AMA issues blueprint to improve Meaningful Use

The American Medical Association (AMA), frustrated by physicians' continued struggles with meeting the Meaningful Use requirements, has created a blueprint to refocus and revamp the entire Meaningful Use program.

In a 31-page letter dated Oct. 14 to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, AMA executive vice president and CEO James Madara (pictured) warns that the program is increasing costs and burdens on physicians, decreasing efficiency, interrupting access to patient information and jeopardizing patient safety; many of the Meaningful Use requirements meant to increase patient choice and quality of care were having the "opposite effect."

"After three-and-a-half years of provider participation, we are at a critical crossroad where we believe it is important and necessary to pause and fully assess what is working and what needs improvement before moving ahead to Stage 3 of the program," Madara states.

Several of the recommendations that AMA recommends in its blueprint include:

  • Adopting a more flexible approach for meeting Meaningful Use, such as removing the "all-or-nothing" approach to meeting the objectives and making optional the measures most challenging to physicians, such as view, download and transmit, transfers of care and secure messaging
  • Expanding the hardship exceptions for all stages of the program and to more physicians
  • Improving quality reporting, including increased alignment with other reporting initiatives
  • Addressing the usability challenges, such as adopting recommended approaches to design and removing the requirement that only licensed medical professionals and credentialed medical assistants be allowed to enter orders

"We strongly believe that measures are only meaningful when they meet the ongoing demand and complexity of our health care delivery system and serve the needs of providers and patients. Flexibility is essential to obtaining the envisioned goals of the EHR MU program," the AMA adds.

Many stakeholders have expressed concern about the Meaningful Use program, especially has it progresses beyond its initial stages. The AMA, last month, published a framework to improve EHR usability; ONC's own JASON task force has acknowledged that Stage 2 of Meaningful Use is too complex and has slowed progress "on all fronts."

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

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