AAFP official tells Congress to watch how CMS administers 'meaningful use'

If history is any guide, a lot of physicians will question whether taking the steps to achieve "meaningful use" of EMRs are worth it because CMS has a poor track record running other incentive programs, a leading primary care physician told members of Congress.

"Given the past efforts of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in administrating incentive programs, such as the Physicians Quality Reporting Initiative, many physicians are not reassured that they will receive the bonus if they attempt to participate in the program," Dr. Roland Goertz, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians testified to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health. "We ask your committee to help make sure that CMS delivers on the execution of this program. If the first rounds of reporting and incentives do not go smoothly, many physicians will turn away from this program."

Goertz urged the subcommittee to keep a close watch on how CMS manages the program and asked the congressional panel to consider postponing the 2013 deadline for practices and hospitals to switch to ICD-10 coding because EMR adoption is draining a lot of physicians' time and capital. "Practices are at their maximum capacities for change," Goertz said, according to Health Data Management.

He did praise the establishment of regional extension centers to assist small physician practices in converting to EMRs and attaining meaningful use, but wondered if they would be able to meet the needs of so many practices that are already stretched too thin. "We are hopeful that the regional extension centers will be able to provide such assistance, but we are concerned about their capacities to provide these critical services," Goertz said.

For more:
- see this Health Data Management story 
- read the prepared testimony of Goertz and other witnesses