A final rule on requirements under Stage 2 of the EHR meaningful use program is unlikely to be significantly different from recommendations from the HIT Policy and Standards Committees, according to a new report from consultancy Computer Sciences Corp.

Consequently, report author Erica Drazen, a managing partner in CSC's health care unit, advises hospitals and eligible professionals to start preparing for Stage 2 now. The final rule isn't coming for a year and Drazen notes that Farzad Mostashari, M.D, national coordinator for health information technology, has himself remarked that if the past is any indication, Stage 2 will look a lot like the committee recommendations.

The free CSC report, "Update on Stage 2: Current Direction and Timing of Meaningful Use Requirements," lays out the recommended measures for the second phase. These include measures unchanged from Stage 1, unchanged but no longer optional in Stage 2, with higher thresholds in Stage 2, and new measures unique to Stage 2.

Despite concerns of vendors being able to meet tight Stage 2 criteria, only a few recommended requirements are actually new to the industry, according to the report. So the major challenge to Stage 2 will be meeting the expanded requirements and not vendor capabilities, Drazen asserts. "For example, e-MAR and physician documentation are available in many commercial products. Work with your vendor to address any gaps in required capabilities, but ensure you have the right foundation in place to actually use those capabilities that are currently available. This is especially true of hospital physician documentation, where pilots now will help prepare for future rollout."

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