"They have already expressed great concerns about Stage 2. I am of the view that [Office of the National Coordinator] and [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] ought to develop a way for rural hospitals to achieve Stage 2 while allowing more advanced healthcare systems and providers to move on to Stage 3 if they are ready. The question would be will you commit to giving rural providers more time to achieve Stage 2?"
Mostashari replied that federal officials "have been quite open to dialog with the rural community and how we can help them achieve success and not necessarily accept that they are necessarily going to be further behind."
While challenges remain, Mostashari says that rural providers have made tremendous progress in adopting electronic health records. In fact, Mostashari says he is so confident in the advances that smaller hospitals are making, that deadlines have been moved up, not back.
"We set a goal of getting 1,000 critical access hospitals to meaningful use by 2014. We are going to revise that goal to get 1,000 critical access hospitals to meaningful use by the end of this year," Mostashari says.
"We think we are making good progress with those hospitals through the technical assistance and coordination that is possible. So, we are open to dialog. But I would much rather see the rural hospitals be able to keep up rather than me acknowledge that they are going to fall behind."