AAFP: Meaningful Use time frame will 'outstrip the capacity' of vendors, docs

The American Academy of Family Physicians, in a recent letter to federal healthcare officials, called for a one-year extension to the timeframe for compliance with Meaningful Use Stage 2, saying that the current time frame "will outstrip the capacity" of both vendors and family doctors.

In the letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., said that such an extension would create "three distinct cohorts:"

  • Cohort 1, which would include eligible professionals attesting to Meaningful Use in 2014 as their first payment year;
  • Cohort 2, which would include EPs attesting to Meaningful Use in 2014 as their second payment year, and;
  • Cohort 3, which would comprise EPs attesting to Meaningful Use as their third or fourth payment year

For the proposal, EPs in each of the cohorts would be required to follow specific but distinct timelines for Meaningful Use reporting to receive their bonus payments.

"This modified timeline would allow exemplar practices to implement Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements early in 2014 and for their experience and learnings to be leveraged by vendors, implementers and other providers to optimize subsequent transitions," Stream said. "Pressure would be kept on vendors to be ready for Meaningful Use Stage 2 by Jan. 1, 2014, while distributing the strain of conversion of vendor product and physician workflow over a 21-month period rather than a nine-month period."

Stream added that while AAFP agrees "conceptually with a staged approach" to EHR implementation, "2014 brings a perfect storm of regulatory compliance issues for family physicians." Providers also must switch from the ICD-9 coding system to ICD-10 by Oct. 1, 2014.

The Meaningful Use Incentive Program has come under heavy fire in recent weeks. At a Senate Finance Committee hearing in mid-July, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to pause and reassess the program.

And speaking in front of the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees late last month, four hospital CIOs representing the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives also called for a one-year extension for Meaningful Use Stage 2, expressing worry over a combination of increasingly rigorous demands and shorter deadlines.

To learn more:
- read the AAFP letter (.pdf)