MGMA sends EHR recommendations to HHS

December 10, 2009

The Medical Group Management Association says many medical groups may not achieve "meaningful use" and will not qualify for the EHR incentives if the criteria are too burdensome.

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) has made several recommendations that it says will improve the electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs mandated as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The association has sent the recommendations to David Blumenthal, MD, MPH, Department of Health and Human Services national coordinator for health information technology. MGMA asserts that if the program is not developed and administered appropriately, many medical groups will not achieve “meaningful use” and will not qualify for the incentives.

“In developing the incentive program logistics, the federal government must ensure that concepts of practicality and achievability serve as the foundation of the process,” William F. Jessee, MD, FACMPE, MGMA president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. “Should clinicians encounter significant and burdensome program-related roadblocks and hurdles in their efforts to achieve and prove that they are meaningful users of an EHR, the government runs the risk of not fulfilling the legislation’s directive, and the program could fail to bring about the system improvements many of us envision.”

Specifically, MGMA recommended:

• Instituting a pilot test before the start of the program and before each new phase of the program.

• Only including criteria for meaningful use that have widespread industry use or have been pilot-tested.

• Using only those meaningful use administrative criteria that are “appropriate and achievable.”

• Instituting a process to permit physicians to test their reporting systems before their “go-live” date.

• Permitting flexibility in achieving meaningful use and avoiding a “pass/fail” approach.

• Developing a simple process for physicians to attest that they have achieved meaningful use.

• Simplifying the data-reporting process and ensuring that the government is ready to accept the data.

• Closely monitoring the industry to ensure that the program logistics operate appropriately and monitoring the vendor community regarding its ability to produce high-quality and reasonably priced software.