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Health IT News: EMR Overhaul, Meaningful Use Reporting, & Patient EMR Access

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 18, 2014 9:08:00 AM
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AMA Speaks Out In Favor of EMR Overhaul.

Health IT, HIT, EHR, EMR, Meaningful UseThe Wall Street Journal (9/16, Beck, Subscription Publication) reports, under the headline “AMA Urges Overhaul Of Electronic Medical Records,” that the AMA is backing physicians’ concerns that the current electronic medical records options are not user friendly and get in the way of patient care. AMA president-elect Steven J. Stack, MD, told the Journal that current EMR technology “is not supporting the quality of care we need it to.”

Dr. Stack criticized the Federal Meaningful User program, managed by HHS, and its requirements for the issues doctors have with EMR technology. Dr. Jacob Reider, currently the deputy national coordinator for health IT at HHS, said the agency welcomes the AMA’s feedback and noted that the agency is prioritizing usability. Dr. Reider was joined by other industry representatives in telling the Journal that usability was a priority for them but that improvement would be gradual and take a few years. 

Health IT Stakeholders Lobby for 90-day Meaningful Use Reporting Period in 2015

When CMS issued a final rule in early September granting providers the flexibility in meaningful use attestation the agency had originally proposed back in May and finalizing the extension of stage 2 through 2016 for providers that started attesting in 2011 or 2012.

The rule finalizes the proposed attestation flexibility for providers that were unable to implement 2014 CEHRT in time to successfully attest due to vendor delays. These providers will be able to use 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition to attest to either stage 1 or stage 2. They will also be able to attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use 2013's clinical quality measures.

The rule was generally welcomed by provider organizations and other stakeholders, with one notable point of contention — the final rule keeps the 2015 reporting period at a full 365 days rather than the 90-day period industry members had urged.

This week, 17 industry organizations wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to again request the reporting period be shortened to 90 days. The organizations' main concern is that many of the providers who weren't able to implement 2014 Edition CEHRT in time to attest this year won't be ready to do so in the next 15 days, when the 2015 reporting period starts.

"For roughly 3,800 hospitals, the final rule requires implementation of 2014 Edition CEHRT configured for stage 2 measures and objectives by Oct. 1, 2014," according to the letter. "More than 237,000 eligible professionals will need to be similarly positioned by Jan. 1, 2015. This is in addition to the 1,200 hospitals and 290,000 EPs who also must have 2014 Edition CEHRT implemented before the beginning of their reporting year at stage 1."

However, current meaningful use attestation numbers suggest the vast majority of these providers will not be ready. Just 143 hospitals have met stage 2 thus far, or about 4 percent of the hospitals that will be required to begin stage 2 reporting next month, according to the letter.

Reducing the attestation period to 90 days, and thereby giving hospitals until July 1, 2015 (and eligible professionals until Oct. 1, 2015) to start the reporting period, would "help hundreds of thousands of providers meet stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner," according to the letter. "This will reinforce investments made to date and it will ensure continued momentum towards the goals of stage 3, including enhanced care coordination and interoperability."

The letter's 17 signatory organizations include the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, the American College of Physician Executives, America's Essential Hospitals, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, Catholic Health Association of the U.S., Children's Hospital Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Federation of American Hospitals, HIMSS, Medical Group Management Association, National Rural Health Association and Premier healthcare alliance.

ONC: Half of Patients Given Online EMR Access Use It

In 2013, about three in 10 patients were offered online access to their medical record. About half of those patients offered access logged on at least once, according to a news brief from the ONC.

The ONC surveyed 661 patients with online EMR access. Of those patients, 21 percent viewed their record once or twice, 15 percent viewed it three to five times and 10 percent viewed it more than six times. Fifty-four percent did not access their record at all.

Of those who accessed their medical record online, 60 percent said it was "very useful."

The brief comes at a time when hospitals and health systems are struggling to meet the view/download/transmit requirement of meaningful use stage 2, many worrying about low participation among their patient populations. This brief indicates patients may be more receptive to accessing their records online than providers think, according to an ONC blog post.

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, AMA, Health IT, Patient Access

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