Stage 2 Meaningful Use Implementation: Deriving Opportunities from Challenges

The proposed rules for Stage 2 Syndromic Surveillance present both a challenge and an opportunity for public health professionals. Now that the Stage 2 requirements have been submitted for public comment, there are less than two years remaining before Syndromic Surveillance becomes mandatory. Non-compliance will result in ineligibility for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

The greatest challenge ahead lies in connecting hospitals to the Syndromic Surveillance systems set up by state and local health departments. In addition to the monetary incentives for compliance, Syndromic Surveillance offers an opportunity for public health professionals to easily access timely, critical health information. Associated with this challenge is another opportunity—to work closely with hospital associations and medical societies. These organizations are engaged in communicating with their member hospitals to answer questions that arise as they face their own Meaningful Use challenges.

Now more than ever, building strong relationships with hospital associations is especially beneficial to public health. Hospital associations are actively seeking public health’s guidance through the Meaningful Use and Syndromic Surveillance implementation process.

A good deal of the work at HMS is focused on coordinating with hospital associations and public health to connect the remaining acute care facilities to the system. We’ve discovered that there is significant enthusiasm—and a willing audience ready to relay messages and coordinate webinars—for the overall process.The end result is a win-win-win situation for all: the hospital association, hospital, and public health.

— kjh