Experts Discuss Meaningful Use Changes, Shortcomings at HIMSS15

April 16, 2015 in News

At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference this week, health IT stakeholders have discussed concerns about and expectations for the meaningful use program, EHR Intelligence reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

ONC Panel Discusses Proposed Changes to Meaningful Use

During a panel discussion with leaders from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, experts discussed proposed rules for Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the meaningful use program.

For example, National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo sought to explain the distinction between health IT certification and EHR certification.

She said that the distinction was being made “to make certain that we’re allowing for technology to evolve and being able to protect consumers and their information instead of being focused on EHRs because they are only one part of the story.”

ONC officials also discussed a proposed rule for Stage 2 of the program that would reduce the threshold of patients required to electronically download, review and transmit their health data from 5% of all patients to just one patient (Gruessner, EHR Intelligence, 4/14).

Jodi Daniel, director of ONC’s Office of Policy, noted that the proposed change would not remove the certification requirement for EHRs to contain electronic view, download and transmit capabilities.

Meanwhile, DeSalvo said that the proposed rule has spurred a great dialogue. She said, “We want to bring people to the table. This is the time for comment. This is much more than technology” (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 4/15).

DeSalvo also said that she hoped more patients would be encouraged to access their EHRs.

DeSalvo said, “I would be delighted if there were a maelstrom of requests for people to want to have access to their electronic health information and that not only spurred conversation but [also] action.” She added, “[L]et’s move well beyond 5%. Let’s see that it’s ubiquitous” (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 4/15).

Intermountain Healthcare CMIO Lambasts Meaningful Use Program

Meanwhile, Intermountain Healthcare Chief Medical Informatics Officer Stanley Huff during a keynote speech at HIMSS15 criticized the meaningful use program, saying that despite driving an increase in health IT adoption, the program has introduced unforeseen problems, Clinical Innovation Technology reports.

For example, Huff said that the meaningful use program:

  • Has not shown evidence of improving care quality;
  • Does not allow for interventions beyond information systems; and
  • Locks providers into technologies, rendering them “stuck” when “something better comes along.”

Huff said, “If we hadn’t taken the [program's] incentive money, I think our patients would be receiving better care and our clinicians would be happier” (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 4/16).

Former President George W. Bush Touts Health IT

In related news, former President George W. Bush — who created ONC through an executive order — said that health IT was a “logical solution” to improving health care, Healthcare IT News reports.

During a discussion at HIMSS15, Bush said the technology “is one way” to maintain the country’s high quality of health care. He said that while there are still challenges, health IT was an “inevitable” solution to them (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 4/15).

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