Minnesota exempts some docs from EHR mandate

Minnesota is softening its stance on electronic health record adoption a bit, exempting solo practitioners and cash-only doctors from its law requiring all providers to adopt interoperable EHRs.

The original law, enacted in tandem with the federal HITECH Act of 2009, stated that by Jan. 1, 2015, "all hospitals and healthcare providers must have in place an interoperable electronic health records system within their hospital system or clinical practice setting."

The state's commissioner of health, working with an "e-Health advisory committee," was to "develop a statewide plan to meet this goal, including uniform standards to be used for the interoperable system for sharing and synchronizing patient data across systems." The standards, to be updated continuously, needed to line up with federal efforts.

However, concerns had been raised that such an obligation was too onerous for small physician practices. At the urging of patient advocacy group Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) the Minnesota House and Senate each passed amendments to the bill allowing for a limited opt out provision exempting solo and cash-only doctors. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill May 22, according to CCHF.

"Many small clinics and practices cannot afford the cost of the EHR system, and many practices do not want to make their patients' data accessible online," CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase said in a statement.

This is not the first time that a state has softened its stance on EHR adoption. New York, the first state to mandate e-prescribing in large part to combat prescribing abuse, recently delayed the start date of the requirement from March 2015 to March 2016 due to concerns that physicians were not yet able to comply. The federal Medicare Reauthorization and CHIP Reauthorization Act requires EHRs to be interoperable by 2018 and moves physicians to a merit-based reimbursement system based in large part on EHR use.

To learn more:
- here's the CCHF announcement