AMA calls for a change in EHR interoperability measures

June 10, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Electronic Health Records Health Information Technology MACRA 

The American Medical Association (AMA) and 36 specialty medical associations urged the Obama Administration to rethink the way it measures the interoperability of electronic health records (EHR).

In a letter delivered last week to Andrew Slavitt, the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Karen DeSalvo, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the physician organizations said regulators should toss out measures that focus on quantity of records and instead focus on achieving interoperability and care coordination goals.

The vast majority of EHR vendors offer products that simply exchange static documents, thus satisfying the minimum meaningful use requirements. “Many in health care view this level of exchange as little more than digital faxing,” the letter said.

“The lack of interoperability is one of the major reasons why the promise of electronic health records has not been fulfilled,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D. “Vendors have been incentivized to meet the flawed benchmarks under the meaningful use program. We need to replace those benchmarks with ones that focus on better coordinated care. The Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA) offers that opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it.”

Rather than using data exchange as the metric for measuring interoperability, AMA urged CMS to focus on usefulness, timeliness, correctness and completeness of data, as well as the ease and cost of information access. Those would benefit patients more than counting how many times voluminous documents are sent back and forth.

“There is no reason to carry over the flawed measures from meaningful use,” Dr. Stack said. “MACRA gives us a chance to start fresh and produce metrics that enhance the wellness of patients. We are willing to work with CMS and ONC to get there.”

The letter was written in response to a request for information on assessing interoperability under MACRA, the bipartisan Medicare payment reform bill that became law last year.

Click here to read the letter.


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