AHA: Hurry up with EHR choice expansion
The American Hospital Association has called upon the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator to quickly finalize rules regarding the expansion of choice for certified electronic health records.
[See also: AHA says 'bar too high' for Stage 2]
"The flexibility offered in the proposed rule would support continued adoption of EHRs; without it, many providers are likely to conclude that they cannot meet meaningful use this year and abandon the program," wrote Linda Fishman, AHA's senior vice president of public policy analysis and development, in a June 17 letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD.
She added that, since hospitals have to decide their meaningful use strategy for fiscal year 2014 before the new rule is finalized, one that "narrows the proposed flexibility could unfairly cause significant financial and operational harm to hospitals.
[See also: AHA calls for Stage 2 reporting changes]
"We strongly urge you to finalize, as quickly as possible, the proposal to expand providers' choice of certified EHR technology to be used in 2014," Fishman wrote. "The proposed flexibility is much needed and would offer more choice in the specific meaningful use requirements they must meet in 2014 (Stage 1 or Stage 2). However, we are concerned that the extremely late release of the proposed rule will limit its benefit to hospitals."
The letter also urges CMS and ONC to clarify and simplify the rule's implementation, offer more flexibility in the reporting of clinical quality measures, shorten the MU reporting period for 2015 and take some lessons from the experiences of Stage 2 before finalizing the start date for Stage 3.
As for eCQMs, AHA makes the case that hospitals should have wider berth in the measures they choose to report, irrespective of the specific stage of MU.
"Specifically, hospitals using a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition CEHRT should be able to report either set of eCQMs, regardless of the stage of meaningful use met," Fishman wrote.
Simplification of the rule would also be a boon, AHA argued, specifically were CMS to remove the proposed limitation on providers' ability to take advantage of this new flexibility.
"The proposed rule would limit the selection of an alternative approach to attesting in a manner consistent with the existing rules to hospitals that 'could not fully implement 2014 Edition CEHRT to meet meaningful use for the duration of an EHR reporting period in 2014 due to delays in 2014 Edition CEHRT availability,'" the letter argues. "AHA members have expressed considerable concern that this limitation creates uncertainty that could limit the benefit of the proposed flexibility."