AMA wants penalties removed from MU

Calls for renewed focus on EHR interoperability, usability
By Mike Miliard
11:07 AM
Doc at computer

With just 2 percent of physicians having managed to attest to Stage 2 meaningful use, clearly something is holding back the vast majority of docs from succeeding in the program. The American Medical Association says they should not be penalized.

[See also: AMA worried about ONC 'gap']

In a policy approved this week at the AMA's Interim Meeting, the physician group continued its call for penalties to be abolished from meaningful use – and said the program should be reframed to focus more on interoperability.

"The AMA has been calling for policymakers to refocus the meaningful use program on interoperability for quite some time," said AMA President-elect Steven J. Stack, MD, in a press statement.

[See also: AMA seeks to remedy 'cumbersome' Stage 2 rules]

The "whole point" of meaningful use, he added, was to "allow for the secure exchange of information across settings and providers and right now that type of sharing and coordination is not happening on a wide scale for reasons outside physicians' control."

The certification and cost of electronic health records has been a challenge for physicians, AMA argues. And the long lag times as vendors rush to add new mandatory features for new mandatory features often leads to late deliveries, making it difficult for docs to report for a 365-day period, as still required by CMS despite vocal calls for a shorter window.

As vendors are compelled to check boxes for meaningful use certification, moreover, their attention is diverted from making their systems more usable, innovative and interoperable, says AMA.

In addition to calling for EHRs to be more interoperable, AMA is also recommending that policymakers ease regulations so that providers and vendors could better focus on making  EHRs more usable, citing a 2013 study that found EHRs were a major source of dissatisfaction for physicians.

That report found that physicians want to embrace health IT, but are frustrated that regulatory requirements are forcing them to do clerical work and distracting them from paying close attention to their patients.

Docs also raised concerns about interoperability in that study, complaining of EHRs' inability to "talk" to each other, the transmission of patient medical information when it is needed.

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