31 health systems demand stop to Stage 3 meaningful use, call program a diversion

Beth Israel Deaconess, Geisinger and Henry Ford among provider heavyweights pressing the Department of Health and Human Services to halt the program.
By Bernie Monegain
10:23 AM
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Thirty-one top health systems, hospitals and clinics are urging the Department of Health and Human Services to think again about pressing forward on Stage 3 meaningful use.

Among them are Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Partners HealthCare in Boston; Geisinger Health Systems in Pennsylvania; Henry Ford Health System in Michigan and Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City.

In a January 14 letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the organizations say they are concerned that Stage 3 might even thwart much needed improvements to electronic health record systems.

[Also: Meaningful use will likely end in 2016]

“We recognize that the MU program has successfully driven the adoption of EHRs, with over 80 percent of hospitals and physicians now using these systems,” they write, adding that now is the time to make sure all practices “have high-functioning technology to achieve interoperability across all care settings.”

Their pleas come on the heels of CMS chief Andy Slavitt’s claim that meaningful use would come to an end in 2016, a statement he made January 12 at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. He gave few details beyond that, except to say the program would be replaced by something better.

John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, posted the letter on his blog. Halamka had already called for a halt to the program back in November.

[Also: Did meaningful use spawn or stall EHR innovation?]

“In particular, the MU program has diverted clinician, staff, and other resources away from activities with greater patient benefit and has forced technology to develop in a way that limits innovation,” the healthcare organizations said in their letter to Burwell.

Also, the group points to the meaningful use program as the driving factor behind the poor design of EHR technology.

“We believe Stage 2 EHR design requirements have been a fundamental drag on interoperability and that Stage 3 will worsen these problems,” they said. “The Stage 3 final rule, like its predecessor rules, is too focused on pass-fail requirements and lacks emphasis on outcomes. By maintaining this flawed structure, we do not believe Stage 3 will support movement towards more innovative care models or encourage continued participation.”

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Robert M. Wachter, MD, a professor and the interim chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, in a Jan. 16 opinion piece in the New York Times pointed to several measures that he said have failed doctors and teachers.

“Of course, we need to hold professionals accountable,” he wrote. “But the focus on numbers has gone too far. We’re hitting the targets, but missing the point.”

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