Provider groups call on CMS to delay electronic health record certification requirements

A group of provider organizations and state medical societies led by the American Medical Association has asked federal health officials to delay 2015 EHR certification requirements at least one year to avoid disrupting physician practices.   

Provider groups representing a wide range of medical specialties, along with 44 state medical societies, cited the limited number of vendors that have fully upgraded their EHR systems to meet the 2015 edition of certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT), in a letter addressed to Patrick Conway, M.D., acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Jon White, M.D., acting national coordinator of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

Just 54 EHR products have been certified to the 2015 standards so far, leaving thousands still awaiting certification. Providers are expected to use EHR technology that meets the updated regulations by January 2018. 

“Requiring physicians to upgrade to 2015 Edition technology by 2018 limits choice by forcing physicians to select a system from approximately one percent of existing products,” the letter states. “In addition, physicians may be driven to switch vendors and utilize a system that is not suitable for their specialty or patient population due to this tight timeline.”

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The letter also highlighted patient safety concerns that could come from a “hasty deployment” of CEHRT, arguing that rushed implementation of CEHRT would lead to “overall disruption to physicians’ practices.” Pointing to provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act that call for reduced regulatory burden on providers, the organizations said physicians should be allowed to “identify their own 2015 Edition-rollout timeline independent of federal regulation.”

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The letter comes a week after 16 healthcare associations, including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price calling for an indefinite delay to Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements.