Citing the fact that many hospitals have still not met stage one of meaningful use, the American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced its opposition of the fast-approaching deadline for stage two. The AHA is concerned that an unstable foundation of health IT in some facilities could compound integration problems down the road, so it believes a protracted timeline is necessary.
The AHA's position is reminiscent of when the American Medical Association (AMA) first expressed its opposition for the prior iteration of the ICD-10 conversion timeline. Back in November, the AMA said that the October 2013 deadline could cause more harm than good because of cost concerns and a diminished focus on patient health.
In that instance, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) eventually pushed the deadline back one year, in part because of concerns that smaller healthcare facilities would not be able to institute the coding practices in an efficient manner. The AHA is coming from a similar position now regarding the meaningful use issue.
"Evidence also suggests that the digital divide is widening, with large and urban hospitals reaching much higher rates of adoption than smaller and rural facilities," AHA executive vice president Rick Pollack told Healthcare IT News. "Given the experience to date in stage one, the AHA is concerned that elements of the proposed rule for stage two would stand in the way of a successful program to support widespread adoption by all hospitals."
The HHS will not administer its final ruling on stage two requirements until this summer, but it released preliminary criteria back in March. These rules will be available for public comment for approximately the next four months.
Regardless of whether the meaningful use deadline is extended, healthcare providers will need to begin embracing modern care processes eventually. One way to do this is by working with a healthcare IT consulting service. The adoption of health IT tools can be an intricate process, but it will ultimately provide substantial benefits to patients if completed properly.