There’s been a lot of concern surfacing in recent weeks about the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements pertaining to the public health (PH) objectives. The PH objectives for Stage 2 are Core 16 and Menu 1: successful ongoing submission of electronic immunization data to an immunization registry and of syndromic surveillance data to a public health agency.
It’s the “ongoing” part of the measures that seems to be worrying people the most. With so many potential obstacles in place that could prevent a provider from establishing an electronic connection with a registry or public health agency, “successful ongoing submission” can seem almost impossible, even with a reporting period of just 3 months, like that of 2014.
Not to worry, though…in a Public Health/Vendor Collaboration webinar held last week, representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services clarified that the intent of these objectives is to ensure that providers are taking steps toward ongoing electronic submission of public health data, not that they’ve necessarily achieved ongoing submission.
So the gist of it is this: as long as you’re somewhere in the process of submitting immunization and/or public health data (the process of reaching a point where ongoing submission is possible), you should meet the PH measures.
As long as you’re somewhere in the process of submitting immunization and/or public health data, you should meet the PH measures.
And what is the process, you ask? It has 3 steps:
- Step 1: A public health agency declares its capacity for accepting electronic PH data. The agency will announce, probably on its website, that it’s ready to receive data.
- Step 2: A provider registers his or her intent with the agency to submit PH data. This has to be done within 60 days of the start of your reporting period. (You can register with a public health agency before the start of your reporting period, but only if your EHR software is already installed and ready to go at the start of the period.)
- Step 3: The public health agency will “onboard” those providers who have registered intent. Onboarding basically refers to a process of prioritization. Public health agencies will have to take various steps to ensure that providers have the capability to submit electronic PH data to them, and those agencies will focus on the providers with the capacity to submit more valuable information. For instance, a provider with the capacity to submit immunization information for 30 patients probably wouldn’t be as high a priority for an immunization registry as a provider with the capacity to submit information for hundreds of patients.
So there’s really no reason to worry about either of these MU measures. If you’re on the latest version of PracticeStudioX16, then you have an EHR capable of collecting the data. If you’ve contacted your local public health agency and they’re not able to receive electronic immunization or syndromic surveillance data, then you qualify for an exclusion. If the agency is capable of receiving electronic PH data, then you simply register with them and wait for them to get back to you. (Make sure you always respond to their messages in a timely manner.) Either they’ll get to you during the reporting period and get your clinic set up for ongoing submission, or they won’t. In either case, you will have done your part.
The Webinar Updates are just what they sound like: posts to let you know the latest information we’ve learned from attending webinars hosted by government agencies, interoperability workgroups, and other participants in the healthcare chain. Check back often for quick updates on the latest news from national healthcare webinars.