My inbox has been flooded the past couple of days with notices from trade associations, law firms, consultants and others that they filed comments with ONC regarding looming Stage 3 meaningful use regulations.

The comments were filed in response to the federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee'sdraft Stage 3 recommendations, published Nov. 26 in the Federal Register. HITPC is the body that makes recommendations to ONC and CMS. Think of it as a MedPAC for health IT.

The AHA, AMA (login required) and CHIME all delivered a similar message: before "rushing ahead to set Stage 3 requirements," the feds should conduct an "external" and thorough evaluation of what's happened since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted in 2009. As you'll recall, that's the law that gave rise to the incentive program for adopting health IT. The AHA said that HHS should not only study the progress that's been made, but also seek "to understand why, more than two years into the program, the large majority of hospitals and physicians have yet to attest to meaningful use."

The groups went addressed such critical issues as the nation's health IT infrastructure, interoperability and adoption timeframes.

That question of what's been achieved and what obstacles remain to deploying IT across health care settings is one that we've been asking for nearly two decades through our Most Wired survey. But we go beyond CPOE, clinical decision support, patient access to records and other meaningful use-like applications. The Most Wired survey delves into four categories:

  • Infrastructure
  • Business and administrative management
  • Clinical quality and safety (hospital inpatient and outpatient)
  • Clinical integration (ambulatory-physician-community)

One of the key findings over the past few years is that at the most technologically savvy hospitals, IT is now considered a critical part of the overall strategic plan. It's not IT for IT's sake. As witnessed in our cover story last July, Most Wired hospitals recognize the true value of a robust IT system across the entire enterprise.

On Tuesday, we officially launched the 2013 survey. It is open for all hospitals to take and we encourage you to do so. Those that achieve Most Wired status get recognized in the July issue of H&HN and at our Health Care Leadership Conference in July. Every hospital completing a survey gets a customized benchmarking report comparing its progress to other participating organizations. To me, that's the real value in the survey.

As always, we've made some tweaks in the survey this year — adding some new questions and taking some off, but the bones remain the same. We know that hospital leaders are extremely busy, but the Most Wired survey has proven value and can be a great tool in your strategic planning process. The survey closes March 15.