Docs send Congress meaningful use SOS

AMA and 111 medical societies urge ‘refocus’ of Stage 3
By Bernie Monegain
10:25 AM
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Congress

The rallying cry to do something about the meaningful use program is getting louder and more insistent.

Earlier this week, the American Medical Association and 111 medical societies sent pleas to Congress urging a reprieve - or at the very least, a "refocus" of Stage 3 of the program, they write.

"We are writing to express our strong concerns with the decision by the Administration to move ahead with implementation of Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program despite the widespread failure of Stage 2," they state in their Nov. 2 letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid.

[See also: EHR meaningful use doomed unless Congress steps in.]

Interoperability should be front and center now, they say.

"We believe that the success of the program hinges on a laser-like focus on promoting interoperability and allowing innovation to flourish as vendors respond to the demands of physicians and hospitals rather than the current system where vendors must meet the ill-informed check-the-box requirements of the current program," leaders of the medical organizations write.

They claim the Administration has not responded to this need and instead has chosen to perpetuate the current failed program through the release of Stage 3 Meaningful Use.
 
"It is unrealistic to expect that doing the same thing over and over again will result in a different outcome," they write. "We believe, therefore, that it is time for Congress to act to refocus the Meaningful Use program on the goal of achieving a truly interoperable system of electronic health records that will support, rather than hinder, the delivery of high quality care."

[See also: AMA presses CMS for meaningful use hardship exemption and AMA docs fed up with EHR woes.]

In their letter to House Majority Leader Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, they write: "Congressional action to refocus this program is urgently needed before physicians, frustrated by the near impossibility of compliance with meaningless and ill-informed bureaucratic requirements, abandon the program."

In a move that surprised many healthcare providers - both in hospitals and in physician practices - CMS released the final rules for both Stage 2 and Stage 3 in one fell swoop October 6.

[See also: CMS drops final EHR meaningful use rule.]

In the months leading up to the reveal of the final rules, many stakeholders continued to hope for a delay of Stage 3 requirements.

By the time 600 or so CIOs met for CHIME's Annual Fall Forum in Orlando in mid October, the rules were out - and CIOs Pamela McNutt and Liz Johnson were prepared to analyze and advise.

They were specific about their concerns:

There still remains an opportunity to comment on the rules through December 15.

"It is your right and duty to comment," Johnson told a packed room one of CHIME forum's sunrise sessions in Orlando.