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Eligible Hospitals Progress in Meaningful Use Public Health

Recent data released by ONC put the focus on the progress made by eligible hospitals on meaningful use public health reporting requirements.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use.

Source: Thinkstock.

By Kate Monica

- Of the four meaningful use public health measures available for eligible hospitals to report, active reporting of electronic immunization registry and reportable laboratory results were the two most common.

According to ONC, 4,043 eligible and critical access hospitals (EH) attested for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program in 2015.

Ninety percent of hospitals attested to Stage 2 Meaningful Use, while 93 percent of all hospitals reported active engagement with an immunization registry. Additionally, 88 percent reported electronic reportable laboratory results data, with 76 percent reporting syndromic surveillance data to a public health agency.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use required eligible professionals and eligible hospitals (EHs) to meet different data collection and reporting activities.  Additionally, health information exchange and patient engagement were important objectives in Stage 2 meaningful Use.

EHs are required to fulfill Stage 2 Meaningful Use Meaningful Use through 2017 although they could elect to report on Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. However, CMS requires all EHs to meet Stage 3 meaningful use requirements starting in 2018 and continuing on through future years.

EHs attesting to Stage 2 Meaningful Use were required to report active engagement or claim a permitted exclusion for three of the public health reporting measures. Modified Stage 2 required EHs to report active engagement or claim a permitted exclusion for two of the four measures.

As of 2015, eligible hospitals were required to report on active engagement with a public health agency to submit four types of electronic health data:

  • Immunizations
  • Reportable laboratory results
  • Specialized registries
  • Syndromic surveillance

A majority of the nation’s hospitals attesting to meaningful use through Medicare EHR Incentive Programs in 2015 are in active engagement with a public health agency, and report this data electronically. While all programs are submitting these data electronically, some variation does exist from state to state.

ONC attributes this variation to two major areas.

One, the data reflects reports through meaningful use attestation as opposed to full capabilities for all hospitals. Modified Stage 2 and Stage 2 of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program had variant requirements for public health data reporting in 2015.

Two, hospitals are permitted to claim an exclusion from reporting on a data type under certain circumstances. For example, if the hospital does not immunize patients or has an emergency room, or if the hospital’s state public health agency cannot receive data, it can claim an exclusion from reporting a data type.

In 2018, when EHs will be expected to attest to Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements, there will be less variation on regulations and requirements. CMS has stated EHs will be expected to meet a single set of objectives and measures to lessen administrative and reporting burden on providers.

There will be several changes to objectives and measures in Stage 2 Meaningful Use. These changes are mostly in response to providers voicing concerns regarding the “burden” associated with reporting requirements from years past that detracted from a provider’s ability to focus on patient care.

With this in mind, CMS has removed several measures from stage 3 meaningful use including Clinical Decision Support and Computerized Provider Order Entry. There will also be several reductions to objectives including provide patient access, patient-specific education, and view/download/transmit objectives and measures, among others. 

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