Experts say that electronic health record vendors are encountering difficulties getting their products certified for use under Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, Government Health IT reports (Brino, Government Health IT, 10/22).
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
A Modern Healthcare review found that as of September 25, fewer software developers had certified electronic health record systems for use by health care providers under Stage 2 meaningful use requirements than under Stage 1 of the program.
The report found that only 79 companies, providers and other health care organizations had developed software that was tested and certified to meet standards for Stage 2 of the program. In comparison, there were 988 developers of health IT systems that were tested and certified for Stage 1 of the program.
Hospitals that had demonstrated at least two years of meaningful use of a certified EHR system under Stage 1 of the program were required to begin Stage 2 of the program on Oct. 1. To continue to qualify for incentive payments and to avoid cuts to their Medicare reimbursements, hospitals must demonstrate meaningful use under Stage 2 criteria for 90 consecutive days.
However, the limited number of Stage 2 certified EHR systems could cause problems for hospitals and office-based physician practices, according to Modern Healthcare (iHealthBeat, 9/26).
Vendors Face Challenges
Alisa Ray -- executive director and CEO of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology -- said, "It has been a slow start," adding that EHR vendors are "navigating a higher bar and increased complexity" to obtain certification for Stage 2.
According to Ray, three areas of Stage 2 have proven significantly challenging to vendors, including:
- Automated measure calculation for reporting metrics;
- Clinical quality measures; and
Amit Trivedi -- health care program manager at ICSA Labs -- said some vendors might also be experiencing certification fatigue.
She noted that there were about 3,000 listings on The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's Certified Health IT Products List for products certified under Stage 1, with some vendors listing multiple products. However, there are less than 300 listings for Stage 2 products, she said (Government Health IT, 10/22).