EHR meaningful use doomed unless Congress steps in

AMA Wire
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Congress just received an urgent call to action from physicians: Unless lawmakers intervene in the federal electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program, physicians—who are frustrated by the “near impossibility of compliance with meaningless and ill-informed bureaucratic requirements”—likely will abandon the program completely. Physicians laid out the bleak situation in letters delivered to Congress Monday night.

Complex requirements and clear-cut problems

In the face of new regulations that will make program requirements under Stage 3 even less achievable and more disruptive, the AMA and 110 other medical associations sent letters to members of the Senate (log in) and the House (log in), urging them to intervene.

The letters point out that “the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (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.”

Negative consequences of the program have been significant. The letters underscore some of the most serious ones lawmakers need to understand:

  • Physician time is being diverted from patient care to data entry.
  • Patient records are being filled with unnecessary documentation that is unrelated to providing high-quality care.
  • The program has created new barriers to exchanging data and other information across care settings.

Ignoring physician concerns, CMS sets unrealistic expectations

Although more than 80 percent of physicians have EHRs in their practices, only 12 percent of physicians have been able to successfully participate in Stage 2 of meaningful use. The statistic speaks volumes about how physicians embrace new technology while ill-conceived regulations hold back progress.

Physicians have been pointing to the problems with the program for years, asking for remedies that would support physicians in providing the best care possible for patients. Not the least among these concerns is that innovative EHR technologies need to be developed to meet the needs of physicians’ practices and advance the sharing of patient data among the professionals who are providing their care.

“It is unrealistic to expect that doing the same thing over and over again will result in a different outcome,” the letters state of how CMS has handled meaningful use regulations over the years.

“It is time for Congress to act to refocus the meaningful use program on the goal of achieving a truly interoperable system of EHRs that will support, rather than hinder, the delivery of high-quality care,” physicians said in the letters.

3 things you can do

Decision-makers in the nation’s capital need to hear from you. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to speak out about meaningful use. Here are three important ways you can make your voice heard:

  • Email your members of Congress. Tell them that the nation’s patients and physicians need significant changes to Stage 3 of meaningful use. It takes less than a minute to do so via the AMA’s Break the Red Tape website.
  • Submit comments on the Stage 3 regulations. CMS is allowing a 60-day comment period for feedback on the final rule. You have until Dec. 15 to help create a groundswell of physician responses that call for changes to the proposal. makes it simple to comment.
  • Share your story. Join your peers in telling your story about how meaningful use regulations are affecting your patient-physician relationships.
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I still use paper charts and am penalized the same amount as the 88% of physicians who spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of their lives purchasing EMRs that don't fulfill MU. It's time we all stop playing the burocrats' game...
There is no way to make unreasonable things become reasonable, the solution is not to amend it, it should be to abolish it. From the beginning, lot of us already predicted it will fail, but could not do anything to change it, only let the realty to punish the unpractical proposal. We should keep watch it fail and not wast any time on it, just focus to treat patient better. <br/> <br/> Only one thing needs to watch out is to prevent the special group to lobby government to increase the penalty for the people not join It, just like they did it on the begining using the penalty to force us to join.
Lets try to be perfectly clear from a front line provider. Listen up CMS. Meaningful use is dead. The Stage 3 proposal reads like a dark comedy. There is ABSOLUTELY no way providers are going to participate in this. We are NOT data entry personnel. If you want data entry personnel, then hire a million of them and send them out to our offices. It is MUCH more efficient and safer and easier to take the penalties until YOU give up on this ridiculous regulatory nonsense. Let's delineate:<br/> <br/> 1. Renaming measures, objectives and then piling on multiple measures under each objective does NOT simplify NOR improve the program. <br/> 2. Requiring 365 days of reporting will never happen. EVER.<br/> 3. Increasing patient engagement threshold to 10 percent, including APIs, are you serious? Will NEVER happen, unless forced upon our poor patients to send us a "hi" message from the waiting room. As for APIs, sounds great to IT folks but we are PROVIDERS!! Do you understand we provide care, not APIs.<br/> 3. TOC threshold will never happen<br/> 4. Bidirectional exchange with immunizations and public health registries, 6 measures no less, will NOT happen. <br/> 5. SOC and Patient education must be electronic, are you NUTS? Our patients want printouts. The do NOT want us to electronically send them anything. Stupid. <br/> 6. CQMs electronically submitted won't happen. <br/> 7. API to Include patient generated data? Are you simply out of your minds or is this a joke? <br/> 8. Interoperability is the ONE and ONLY thing you should be looking at. You should allow ALL to participate not just certified EHRs. Many of us have given up on MU and use a customized workflow to improve usability efficiency safety and security. <br/> <br/> There is not a SINGLE vendor that will have this ready by 2018, certainly in no efficient meaningful way. No way. Again, I am a front line provider in a group that has ALREADY given up on MU. Its meaningful abuse or meaningless use. Nearly all our colleagues have given up on MU, like 90% of them. There is no way our hospital will meet Stage 2. So even with trying, they will pay tons of money to not make 100% of the pass fail. I thought maybe Stage 3 would bring me back in, but its a deceitful lie that its less measures, and the thresholds and counting numerators and denominators and attesting and all this clicking will NEVER happen. All under the threat of audits. Again, listen to us, please, its getting embarrassing for you at ONC and CMS. Stop this madness. If you were nurses or physicians or actual providers, we are drowning out here. Stop thinking you know what is best for all of us, you don't. Let doctors be doctors. All of us out here are finished with MU and you just do not get it. Everyone take a deep breath and look around the room and say to yourselves, lets STOP all this. Devaluing physicians and providers is what you are doing. You are asking us to be free data entry personnel and then take our data and sell it, analyze it, use it against us, all on the backs of providers simply trying to care of people. We are disenfranchised. LOOK how TERRIBLY stage 2 is going, review that, consider that, not the small percentage of informantic MDs, but the 90% real front line providers, TALK to them, and think about what you are doing to medicine. Angry, overburdened, depressed providers will not improve outcomes. You are killing us. We are quitting in droves. We are hard to replace and not coming back. Stop MU because we have already.
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