Most healthcare organizations participating in theincentive program are focused right now on achieving Stages 1 or 2, but the MU program goes on long past that, says one expert. Organizations need to start considering how they will make meaningful use sustainable into the future.
Laura Kreofsky, principal at Impact Advisors and lead of the group’s meaningful use service line is also the program director for California-based Sutter Health’s MU program. As she describes it, she does nothing but work, eat, sleep and dream MU.
"When we got into this, nobody had any idea how complex and long-term this effort would be," she says of the incentive program. Healthcare organizations are going to have to find ways to "operationalize" their MU strategies, she explains – and this will be difficult.
By 2015, Kreofsky predicts most organizations will be experiencing "MU fatigue."
"We will have been slogging with MU for five years, and with so many things on our radars, in some respects MU may fall to the back burner," she says.
After the stages of MU are achieved, organizations will need to sustain MU to avoid penalties and some of the responsibilities of MU that may have been assigned to a temporary project team will begin to fall to the IT department or be parceled out to various permanent staff. It will take time to “operationalize” MU into a sustainable program, Kreofsky says.
"Many organizations are finding out MU is turning out to be a longer-term project than they thought it would be. Stage 1, 2 and 3 [combined] could become eight to ten years long," she says.
Recently, theCEO Russell P. Branzell and CHIME Board Chair urged Congress to consider a one-year extension of Stage 2, to "maximize the opportunity of program success."
With many providers struggling to meet Stage 1 requirements on top of additional regulations outlined in rules such as HIPAA and, the industry needs the extra breathing room, say CHIME officials.
Kreofsky says she can see where CHIME is coming from, and she agrees. She also cautions that the extension of Stage 2 will only work ifreleases the final Stage 3 rules with plenty of time to allow for vendors and providers to prepare.
"If CMS delays the final rules," she says, "then that’s not a win."
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