Last week the final rules were released by the federal government for stage two of meaningful use and is set to be effective for patients no later than 2014.
Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health IT, told Healthcare IT News that regulators did their best to ensure "maximum flexibility" in order to keep the burden that often comes with change as light as possible.
He added that providers will be given many options as to how best to proceed and what timing will work best for them.
"It does take time, we've listened and we've heard very clearly," Mostashari said of the process.
The major push with stage two, according to Mostashari, is to move beyond data collection and onto improving patient care.
As reported by the news source, over 120,000 eligible healthcare professionals and more than 3,300 hospitals have qualified to participate in the program. This is 23,000 more than the federal government had hoped to recruit, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Elizabeth Holland, director of health IT initiatives at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said that so far $6.6 billion has been paid out in incentives.
Since the process of installing and using healthcare IT systems is a long one, it's important for medical facilities to be properly prepared. It could be beneficial to partner with a healthcare IT consulting firm to update any computer systems and ensure that employees are properly trained.
Medical facilities could also pair with a firm specializing in healthcare operations consulting to ensure that the implementation of the new incentive program goes smoothly. It's imperative that employees understand how new EMR systems work and that patient safety remains a top priority.