Coalition presses HHS for MU fix

Urges focus on interoperability, reporting relief, revamping EHR certification
By Bernie Monegain
10:05 AM
Man with laptop and tools

A coalition of healthcare associations today called on HHS Secretary to revamp the meaningful use program.

"Without changes to the MU program and a new emphasis for interoperable EHRs/EMRs systems and HIT infrastructure, we believe that the opportunity to leverage these technologies will not be realized," the organizations wrote.

The letter is signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, Medical Group Management Association, National Rural Health Association, Memorial Healthcare System, Mountain States Health Alliance, Premier healthcare alliance and Summa Health System.

The AMA also wrote a separate letter to CMS and ONC, pushing a similar agenda and offering a detailed "blueprint."

The coalition letter to Burwell references the recent final rule that provided some flexibility in cases where certified EHRs were not available.

[See also: Stage 2 meaningful use off to slow start and Stage 2: Rubber meets the road]

"Unfortunately, the recently released final rule that provided relief for unavailable technology did not address or improve the challenges of interoperability and usability," the letter stated. "It also only limited its impact to 2014, despite the growing concern with future stages of the MU program. Our organizations remain concerned that without changes the forward trajectory of the MU program will be in jeopardy."

The coalition recommended the following:

  • Streamline and focus the ONC certification requirements on interoperability, quality measure reporting and privacy/security. Removing a heavy handed set of certification mandates and allowing instead for a flexible and scalable standard based on open system architectural features like application program interfaces will promote the delivery of more innovative and usable solutions. This in turn will allow data to move more freely across the healthcare system, reducing data lock-in and promoting more usable systems;
  • foster collaboration among stakeholders to promote the development of new HIT that is focused on meeting clinical care needs;
  • remove restrictive MU policies that stifle HIT innovation;
  • recognize vendors and providers need adequate time to develop, implement and use newly deployed technology and systems before continuing on with subsequent stages of the MU program. Testing and achievement of specific performance benchmarks should occur before providers are held accountable for any new MU requirements.

[See also: CMS allows for more hardship exceptions.]

Among the AMA recommendations in the letter it sent CMS and ONC were:

  • Adopting a more flexible approach for meeting meaningful use to allow more physicians to successfully participate;
  • better aligning quality measure requirements including reducing the reporting burden on physicians and helping relieve them from overlapping penalties;
  • ensuring quality measures and clinical decision support within the program are current to improve care for patients and ensure physicians are following the latest evidence; and
  • restructuring EHR certification to focus on key areas like interoperability.

More regional news

Digital Transformation

Top row - left to right: Dr Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), HHS Office of the Secretary, US, Tim Kelsey, SVP - Analytics, HIMSS, Australia and Dr Ahmed Balkhair, Saudi Arabia’s Digital Transformation Advisor, Ministry of Health. 

Bottom row: Dr Anne Snowdon, Director of Clinical Research - Analytics, HIMSS, Canada.

By
Malaffi, COVID-19

Credit: Malaffi CEO, Atif Al Braiki

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