Today, the American Medical Association (AMA) and 95 state and specialty medical societies submitted formal comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the proposed rule outlining the meaningful use criteria for the electronic health records (EHRs) incentive programs.
“The AMA is supportive of the widespread adoption and meaningful use of EHRs by physicians, but the Stage 1 criteria proposed by CMS are too aggressive,” said AMA Board Member Steven J. Stack, M.D. “It could unreasonably punish physicians who undertake great efforts to achieve meaningful use of EHRs – only to be denied incentive payments due to overly complex and unattainable criteria.”
To help ease adoption and facilitate meaningful use of EHRs, the AMA suggested a number of revisions to the proposed rule. Among them are:
· Remove the “all or nothing” approach and require physicians to meet five of the 25 proposed objectives and measures instead of all 25.
· Eliminate the objectives and measures that don’t directly apply to EHR adoption, such as checking insurance eligibility electronically.
· Revise the definition of meaningful use for certain hospital-based physicians to broaden eligibility for the federal incentive programs.
· Reduce the number of quality measure reporting requirements and allow physicians to identify only three clinically relevant measures.
“Overall, the proposed reporting criteria require more flexibility,” said Dr. Stack. “We’d like to see more help for physicians in identifying the data necessary for accurate reporting.”
“We are committed to EHR adoption that streamlines physician practices and helps them continue providing high-quality care to patients, but successful integration of EHRs into patient care takes time,” said Dr. Stack. “We support the staged approach to health IT adoption, and we’re hopeful that we can work with the administration to finalize regulations that truly encourage EHR adoption and successful physician participation in the EHR incentive programs.”