AMA, medical organizations call on Congress to 'refocus' MU Stage 3

The American Medical Association (AMA) is leading a campaign, along with 111 medical societies, calling for Congress to "refocus" Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program.

In letters to the leadership of the House and Senate, the groups, including the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians and others, point to lack of focus on interoperability as a fatal flaw.

"As the regulatory scheme to measure 'meaningful use' of this technology has evolved, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has continued to layer requirement on top of requirement, usually without any real understanding of the way healthcare is delivered at the exam room level," the letters state.

"[W]e believe that the success of the program hinges on a laser-like focus on promoting interoperability and allowing innovation to flourish as vendors respond to the demands of physicians and hospitals rather than the current system where vendors must meet the ill-informed check-the-box requirements of the current program."

The groups write that the Obama administration hasn't taken action to reform the Meaningful Use program, leading them to call on Congress to take action.

The outcry has been growing against Stage 3. In an interview with FierceHealthIT, Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst, who served six years on the federal government's Health IT Policy Committee, called the program's third stage "a mistake."

"What I said around Stage 2 was, it should only be about interoperability and standards. That's all it should have been about. I'll tell you the same thing for Stage 3. … We're not getting to the real root of the problem," he said.

In addition, the Meaningful Use program presents a hurdle to achieving interoperability, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. It diverts resources and attention from other efforts to enable interoperability, the report said.

To learn more:
- here's the Senate letter (.pdf)
- read the House letter (.pdf)