Massachusetts bill softens EHR requirement

The Massachusetts House has recommended that a new law that would have required physicians to demonstrate that they're adept at using electronic health records as a condition of maintaining their license be less Draconian.

The original law, enacted in 2012 and slated to go into effect in 2015, read as follows:

"The board [of Registration of Medicine] shall require, as a standard of eligibility for licensure, that applicants demonstrate proficiency in the use of computerized physician order entry, e-prescribing, electronic health records and other forms of health information technology, as determined by the board. As used in this section, proficiency, at a minimum shall mean that applicants demonstrate the skills to comply with the "Meaningful Use" requirements."

The 2015 House budget recommends that the requirement be softened so that physicians don't need to demonstrate that the practice "utilizes digitized patient-specific clinical information;" rather, they merely need to show that they're familiar with the use of digitized records in patient care.

About 15,000 of the state's 40,000 physicians have attained Meaningful Use; the others are not eligible for a myriad of reasons, according to the Massachusetts Medical Society. The state senate's budget proposal will be debated later this month.

The board had released draft regulations in March that outlined how to meet the requirements, including attaining Meaningful Use, working in a Meaningful Use certified hospital or taking a course.

The Massachusetts law, which was part of a larger measure to enact health reform and rein in costs, was seen by some as "misguided." While other states have attempted to regulate Meaningful Use, those measures, which would have barred the imposition of Meaningful Use penalties or disbanded the state health information exchange, proved unsuccessful.

To learn more:
- here's the law (.pdf)
- read the Medical Society post (.pdf)
- check out the House recommendations (.pdf)