Consumer groups: Leverage Meaningful Use, don't reboot it

A coalition of consumer organizations has taken issue with GOP senators call for the Meaningful Use program to be "rebooted," recommending instead that the program be strengthened and perhaps even accelerated.

In April, six senators issued a letter and accompanying white paper to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlining their concerns with the implementation of the HITECH Act. The senators invited stakeholders and others to comment.

In response, the coalition--led by the Consumer Partnership for eHealth and the Campaign for Better Care--defended the Meaningful Use program, praising congress for creating a quick phased-in approach to health IT adoption. The coalition warned that pausing or delaying Meaningful Use would stifle innovation, hamper interoperability and postpone cost savings, noting that "[s]uspending Meaningful Use would only serve to keep us stuck in our current broken, unsustainable healthcare system." They recommended that instead of a reboot, the program needs to be leveraged to incorporate "new learnings" while continuing efforts already underway.

The group also implied that the senators were being unrealistic about the speed at which health IT is being adopted by the industry, pointing out that "we cannot transform the entire nation's health information backbone on a dime" and that "[o]bviously we cannot transform the nation from a mostly paper-based siloed system to electronic interoperability in a few years." 

This is not the first time that the GOP senators have been criticized for their negative views about the Meaningful Use program, with one ONC official calling them "misguided."

To learn more:
- here's the comment letter (.pdf)