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Contributing Writer · May 16, 2011

Meaningful EMR Use Update

The opening of the Medicare attestation window for the CMS EHR incentive program on April 18th signaled the last significant milestone of the Stage 1 Meaningful EMR Use process.

The first payments are expected in four to six weeks for Medicare EPs that qualified for maximum EMR incentives on that date. Each subsequent month should show a rising wave of payments to EPs that have met the criteria.

The uncertainty about the details of the program that have swirled within the HIT industry for the past 18 months are being laid to rest. So, what is next? How about Stage 2?

The process for developing the objectives, required measures, and regulations for Stage 2 is proving to be much smoother than the Stage 1 process, except for one sticky issue. Created during the Stage 1 process was a framework of committees, EHR workgroups, public comment, and Final Rules. Stage 2 details are currently being worked through this existing framework.

The final Stage 2 MU recommendations are due June 8th, 2011. On April 20th, Paul Tang of the HIT Standards Committee, [outlined Stage 2 relevant issues.

One primary concern is the current “timeline for developing and implementing new functionality” for Stage 2. There is a growing apprehension among EHR vendors, physicians, and other stakeholders that the current timeline is unrealistically aggressive and could lead to the inability of many EPs to achieve Stage 2 on schedule.

Four different alternative timing options have been suggested, including delaying Stage 2 until 2014. Draft recommendations are to be presented May 11th at HIT Policy Committee session prior to the final June 8th recommendations. A modification to the Meaningful Use timeline would be an unexpected event. Stayed tuned, it’s not over until it’s over.

Jim Tate

Jim Tate, is a partner at, a leading independent resource to understand the impact of the HITECH Act. He is also President of EMRAdvocate and a veteran of numerous EMR implementations in the United States and Asia. He consults with EMR vendors on interface and functional specifications, marketing strategy, documentation and certification. Jim speaks frequently at national conferences on HIT adoption, EHR certification and Meaningful Use. Jim is committed to the proper use of technology to improve health care and may be reached at