Organizations Seek Changes to 2015 EHR Requirements

A coalition of 17 medical associations and trade groups is calling on the US Department of Health and Human Services to amend its reporting 2015 requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.

A coalition of 17 medical associations and trade groups is calling on the US Department of Health and Human Services to amend its reporting 2015 requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.

In a Sept. 15 letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, the American Hospital Association, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association and several other groups asked for greater flexibility on EHR reporting requirements for Fiscal Year 2015. The groups are worried many members won’t meet the Stage 2 Meaningful Use standards if the agency keeps in place its full-year reporting requirement for 2015. Instead, the organizations are asking for a shortened, 90-day reporting requirement, which they say would help providers stay in the incentive program instead of having to drop out due to the deadlines associated with the full-year reporting period.

The letter notes that a new rule passed in May helped ease concerns associated with Fiscal Year 2014, but didn’t address 2015.

“Our organizations remain incredibly concerned that a full-year reporting period will diminish the benefits of the rule HHS proposed in May and complicate the forward trajectory of Meaningful Use,” the associations write.

According to the letter, 3,800 hospitals face an Oct. 1 deadline to meet the Stage 2 EHR requirements and more than 237,000 professionals must meet the requirements by Jan. 1. However, less than 4% of hospitals have thus far demonstrated an ability to meet the requirements and only 1.3% of professionals have done so.

“Our commitment to the success of this program remains strong,” the organizations write. “We believe that giving providers a small amount of meaningful time to complete the transition to Stage 2 is the right policy to keep the program on track.”

The problem appears to stem in part from usability challenges with EHR software. This week, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced a new framework for EHR usability, which the organization said would help address the biggest challenges providers face converting to EHR.

The framework calls for better EHR design, better data sharing capabilities and digital patient engagement features, among other items.

“Physicians believe it is a national imperative to reframe policy around the desired future capabilities of this technology and emphasize clinical care improvements as the primary focus,” said Steven J. Stack, MD, president-elect of AMA.