'Boston Globe' frames meaningful use in terms of patient safety

We've heard plenty comments about how CMS should weaken or delay regulations for meaningful use of EMRs because so many hospitals and physician offices simply won't be able to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments by 2012 or even 2015, when penalties for non-use kick in. Nearly all of those critiques have come from organizations representing providers in some capacity.

So far, we've heard of a coalition of consumer groups speaking in favor of keeping the deadlines as is and the regulations as stringent as in the current proposal. HIMSS also has argued against watering down the regulations. (Cynics may note that the vendors that comprise much of HIMSS' membership would rather see their sales increase sooner rather than later.)

Put the editorial board of the Boston Globe into the latter camp, which frames the argument in terms of patient safety. "Under no circumstances should the administration backtrack on its threat," a Globe editorial says of the prospect of payment cuts for those that haven't adopted EMRs by 2015.

"Even with the incentive of billions of federal dollars to cover much of the cost of the transition [to EMRs], doctors and hospitals have been slow to take even the first steps toward conversion. Apparently, they feel little or no responsibility for symptoms that get misdiagnosed because of inadequate information about a patient's past medical care, let alone the tests that get repeated because no one has a record of the previous results," the paper editorializes.

"[T]he ultimate responsibility belongs to the doctors and hospitals who are putting their own habits ahead of the clearly demonstrated needs of their patients--and of the taxpayers who foot the cost of many medical bills."

For more:
- have a look at this Boston Globe editorial