For stage 1, providers were required to meet 5 of 10 menu objectives and could defer the rest to stage 2. Many did so, knowing that in stage 2 the objectives would likely become mandatory. The objectives that were deferred most often, according to an American Medical Association article, include:
- Summary of care record for each transition of care/referrals (84 percent)
- Send reminders to patients for preventive/follow up care (80 percent)
- Provide electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies (68 percent)
- Provide patients with timely electronic access to their health information (66 percent)
- Medication reconciliation (55 percent)
Of these, syndromic surveillance is the only one that will remain a menu objective in stage 2. The others have all become mandatory core objectives, and providers will need to attest to them in order to qualify for meaningful use incentives.
Many of the deferred objectives are related to interoperability, which is a major focus in meaningful use stage 2. It requires being able to share data with third parties from EHR to EHR or through health information exchanges. Healthcare organizations that do not have the means to do so will have a lot of work to do to get the systems in place before 2014. Trying to tackle these stage 2 requirements without prior experience may make it more difficult to successfully attest on the first try. Another factor that could complicate meeting interoperability-related objectives is that they are going to carry higher thresholds for compliance in stage 2 than they did in meaningful use stage 1.
A good suggestion for providers leading up to meaningful use stage 2 will be to keep track of percentages for different objectives. This way, they can get an idea of whether or not they will be able to meet the thresholds required for stage 2. It is also going to be important for providers to work closely with their EHR vendor to ensure that interoperability requirements will be able to met.