AAFP says meaningful use rules will be tough for small practices

By Bernie Monegain
11:02 AM

The American Academy of Family Physicians wants changes made to the government's proposed meaningful use regulations to help small and medium-sized practices become eligible for government incentives designed to spur the use of healthcare information technology.

The AAFP, which represents nearly 95,000 physicians and medical students nationwide, has been an advocate of the use of healthcare IT for more than a decade.

“The new meaningful use regulations dictate objectives that align with the AAFP’s mission,” said Steven Waldren, MD, director of the AAFP's Center for Health IT. “We are specifically encouraged by their focus on care coordination, quality and patient-centered care.”

The AAFP also has supported the interoperable computerized exchange of health data, a key element of meaningful use.

The proposed meaningful use regulations will pose hurdles for small- and medium-sized medical practices, Waldren said.

In December, the Department of Health and Human Services published regulations that set out the definitions and processes required for doctors and hospitals to receive incentive payments for meaningful use of certified electronic health records technology. It also set the criteria and standards for certified EHR technology.

The regulations lay the foundation for improving the quality, efficiency and safety of the nation’s healthcare through the use of certified EHR technology.

The meaningful use of EHR technology described in the regulations and advocated by the AAFP include electronic prescribing, clinical decision support at the point of care, analysis and reporting of evidence-based measures of quality and performance and the sharing of health information and educational resources with patients.

The AAFP is expected to provide feedback for improvement in its formal response to the HHS before the deadline at the end of February.

“We want the EHR incentive program to succeed,” Waldren said. “And we hope our suggestions will improve its chances of transforming healthcare for the better.”