Leading medical groups have called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to delay implementation of Stage 3 of meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs), saying providers are still trying to implement Stages 1 and 2.
"Meaningful use" refers to provisions in the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which authorized incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid to clinicians and hospitals that use electronic health records in a meaningful way that significantly improves clinical care.
The American Medical Association, which called for a delay in implementation, said the meaningful use program has helped kick start EHR use but noted there are still technical, financial, regulatory, and operational challenges that must be dealt with first.
The American College of Physicians wrote in its comments that Stage 3 measures don't focus enough on patient outcomes, although that was supposed to be their goal. Instead, HHS' measures are a growing collection of functional metrics.
The Association of American Medical Colleges wrote that Stage 3 requirements should strike a balance between imposing difficult measures without having a negative impact on patient care for those providers who don't meet such measures.
In its comments on proposed Stage 3 requirements issued by HHS, the American Academy of Family Physicians called for a delay in implementation until at least 2017, adding it also wants to delay or eliminate penalties for the third and final stage of the EHR incentive program.
HHS finalized its regulations for Stage 2 in August, requiring that physicians complete that stage by October 1, 2014 or face a 1% penalty from Medicare. That was a 9-month delay from its original deadline.
A finalized Stage 3 rule should be released later this year.
Source: Medpage Today, January 15, 2013.