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Provider Advocacy Groups Express Concern to Burwell over Meaningful Use

October 15, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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A group of stakeholders sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell expressing concern with the meaningful use program and the current state of interoperability and usability of health information technology.

The stakeholders argue that their needs to be a focus in the MU program on interoperable electronic health record (EHR) systems and HIT infrastructure. The stakeholders argue that currently most EHR systems do not facilitate data exchange but rather “lock-in” important patient data and other information that is needed to improve care. They cite data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) which notes that less than 14 percent of physicians are able to electronically transmit health information outside of their organization.

“These barriers to data exchange proliferated as result of a variety of factors; include strict MU requirements and deadlines that do not provide sufficient time to focus on achieving interoperability,” the stakeholders write.

The stakeholders include:

  • 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
  • Summa Health System

The groups are requesting that HHS streamline and focus 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 (APIs) will promote the delivery of more innovative and usable solutions,” they write.

The stakeholders also request HHS 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. They say that testing and achievement of specific performance benchmarks should occur before providers are held accountable for any new MU requirements.

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