HHS must address confusion over EHRs, Meaningful Use, group says

The Department of Health and Human Services should consider Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentives and Meaningful Use in its retrospective review of existing regulations, the American Hospital Association (AHA) urges in a letter to HHS Kathleen Sebelius. 

When the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs were introduced, hospital leaders were excited about the opportunity to be rewarded for adopting health information technology. However, the rules set out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) "are overly complex and confusing--leaving many hospitals concerned about their ability to meet the programs' demands," AHA writes.

Simplified regulations that recognize how health information technology is actually acquired, used and implemented are "needed for these programs to fully succeed and for hospitals to be able to meet the national goals of an e-enabled health care system," AHA maintains.

In addition, the requirements for Meaningful Use should be "clear, but not over-specified," it said. Hospitals and physicians should be given easier ways to use a combination of vendor products--but still meet requirements to use certified EHR technology and receive EHR incentive payments, says AHA.

The organization also criticized ONC's certification requirements under Meaningful Use as an example of "regulatory complexity that acts as a barrier" for hospitals trying to use certified technology. This has created the opposite of the intended goal--causing hospitals to buy technology that they will not be using, AHA says.

For more information:
-see the AHA letter
-read the Becker's Hospital Review article