AMA: Meaningful Use approach 'not working'

The American Medical Association is attempting to make the Meaningful Use program more palatable to physicians, this time in a letter recommending a myriad of changes.

The May 8 letter, from AMA Executive VP and CEO James Madara (pictured) to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, warns that unless the electronic health record incentive program is substantially modified, more physicians will drop out, patients will face disruptions and inefficiencies, thousands of physicians will incur financial penalties and outcome-based delivery models will be jeopardized.

The AMA recommends, among other things, that the program:

  • Remove its existing "all or nothing" approach and replace it with a 75 percent pass rate
  • Allow physicians who meet at least 50 percent of Meaningful Use avoid financial penalties
  • Remove the concept of menu v. core
  • Streamline and reduce the number of requirements
  • Remove mandates outside the control of physicians; make the remaining ones evidence-based and tied to tested and high performance standards
  • Consider costs
  • Redesign the certification process  

"Adding flexibility, both to the threshold required to earn the MU incentives and to avoid the penalties ... is the single most pressing change needed to ensure physicians can successfully participate in the MU program," Madara says. "Expecting every physician to meet the same set of requirements despite varying specialties and patient populations is an ill-defined approach that is not working."

The AMA has been very vocal in its concerns about the Meaningful Use program, most recently in its comments of the proposed rule outlining the 2015 edition of certification criteria, where AMA recommended the program be "substantially overhauled."  But the association is not alone; HIMSS, Congress and other stakeholders also have attempted to reshape the program.  

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