Experts Say U.S. Should ‘Stay the Course’ on Meaningful Use

June 17, 2015 in News

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Tuesday, senators and stakeholders discussed how providers and HHS could improve the user experience of electronic health records, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 6/16).

Hearing Details

The hearing was the second in a series aimed at bolstering EHR adoption.

During the hearing, committee members heard testimony from:

  • Boyd Vindell Washington, CMIO at the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in Louisiana;
  • Meryl Moss, COO of Coastal Medical in Rhode Island; and
  • Timothy Pletcher, executive director of the Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services.

In his opening statement, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said that “EHR implementation is falling short,” citing low attestation numbers for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Frieden, MedPage Today, 6/16).

During the hearing, Senate committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) asked the three witnesses whether it would “be wiser to slow down the finalization of” the Stage 3 meaningful use rule, given recent criticism, or whether it would “be better to just push ahead.”

Details of Experts’ Testimony

Overall, the experts said that while some aspects of EHRs and meaningful use requirements can be burdensome, they generally supported moving forward with the incentive program, citing its ability to improve quality of care by using digital records.

In his testimony, Washington said that issues related to EHRs and the meaningful use program should be addressed, such as outdated workflows for insurance claims documentation. However, he said the health care system should “keep the spirit of meaningful use alive,” noting that parts of the program have been “very beneficial” (Modern Healthcare, 6/16).

Washington said that to improve user experience:

  • Billing and quality documentation requirements and processes should better align with new care models (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 6/17);
  • Data input standards should reflect advances in technology; and
  • New standards should be created to facilitate the use of EHRs (MedPage Today, 6/16).

Moss in her testimony said that the large number of quality measures required under the meaningful use program is “onerous” and “inefficient” (Modern Healthcare, 6/16).

She recommended:

  • Quality measures be consolidated; and
  • Standards be developed to assist EHR vendor selection (MedPage Today, 6/16).

Despite those concerns, she noted that her medical group practice has achieved significant improvements under the meaningful use program (Modern Healthcare, 6/16). She said, “We would recommend that [the] incentive programs continue to reward [for] EHR adoption [and] interoperability,” among other things (Health Data Management, 6/17).

Meanwhile, Pletcher in his testimony agreed that the health care system “absolutely ha[s] to stay the course” on meaningful use. He added, “We’re getting better, and we’re all learning” (Modern Healthcare, 6/16).

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