CMA urges Congress to fix EHR meaningful use program

November 05, 2015

The California Medical Association, the American Medical Association and a coalition of medical societies are urging Congress to immediately reform stage 2 of the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program, and to delay stage 3. Frustrated with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) refusal to fix the program, organized medicine has turned to Congress to make the necessary reforms before meaningful use drives physicians out of the Medicare program.

“We are writing to express our strong concerns with the decision by the Obama Administration to move ahead with the implementation of Stage 3 of the meaningful use program despite the widespread failure of Stage 2," the coalition wrote in a letter sent to leadership in both houses of Congress.


While more than 80 percent of physicians are using EHRs, only 12 percent of physicians are successfully participating in the meaningful use program, and there has been little improvement in data exchange across care settings.


The program was intended to increase physician use of technology to improve care and efficiency. Unfortunately, the program's unrealistic and unnecessary requirements are hindering participation in the program, forcing physicians to purchase expensive EHRs with poor usability that disrupt workflow, interfering with patient care and imposing administrative burdens.


“Congressional action is needed to refocus this program before physicians, frustrated by the near impossibility of compliance with meaningless and ill-informed bureaucratic requirements, abandon the program completely,” the coalition said in the letter.


"[CMS] has continued to layer requirement on top of requirement, usually without any real understanding of the way health care is delivered at the exam room level," the letter said.


“What has emerged from this morass of regulation is a system that relegates physicians to the role of data entry clerks, filling the patient record with unnecessary documentation requirements unrelated to the provision of quality care. In addition, the program has failed to focus on interoperability and has instead created new barriers to easily exchanging data and information across care settings.”


The coalition of physician associations is urging the administration to take a different path to achieving the vision originally laid out by Congress. “We believe that the success of the program hinges on a laser-like focus on promoting interoperability and allowing innovation to flourish as vendors respond to the demands of physicians, rather than the current system where vendors must meet the ill-informed check-the-box requirement of the current program.""


Contact: Elizabeth McNeil, (800) 786-4262 or emcneil@cmadocs.org.



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