Monday, March 28, 2011

Medical Societies Comment on Stage 2

HDM Breaking News, March 8, 2011

The American Medical Association and 28 other medical societies recently submitted a joint comment letter on initial draft proposals for Stage 2 electronic health records meaningful use criteria and some Stage 3 criteria.

The organizations urged greater flexibility in meeting meaningful use requirements to accelerate use of EHRs. "Inflexible, overly ambitious incentive program requirements will only hinder health I.T. transitions underway today," according to the letter.

To maximize physician participation in the meaningful use program, the medical societies called for the government to take the following actions:

* Conduct a survey of physicians who have elected to participate and not participate in Stage 1 to identify barriers to physician participation before moving to Stage 2;

* Permit a physician to opt out of measures that have little relevance to the physician's routine practice;
* Assess and publicly vet the expected impact, value, risks, efficacy, administrative burden, costs and technological standards before moving Stage 1 menu set measures to Stage 2 core measures;

* Avoid high thresholds for objectives that cannot be met because of lack of available, well-tested tools or bidirectional health information exchanges; and

* Remove measures that require adherence from a party other than the physician, such as patients' accessing a patient portal or labs reporting test results.

The societies also gave specific comment and recommendations on multiple proposed new criteria, including:
* Make the transition to electronic progress notes an optional requirement in the menu set for hospitals and permit scanned notes for eligible professionals; and

* Reduce from 80 percent to 50 percent the number of patients offered the ability to download their relevant hospital information within 36 hours of discharge.

Further, the medical societies oppose mandatory use of physician secure messaging with patients and oppose personal health records requirements in favor of focusing on EHR adoption. The groups also said it is premature to add further public health reporting requirements when interfaces between physicians and public health agencies are lacking.

A copy of the 46-page comment letter is available here.

--Joseph Goedert

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