Stakeholders to Congress: Don't delay MU Stage 3 without fixing interoperability

Nine organizations, including Intel, athenahealth and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, are warning congressional leaders not to change or pause Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program without also making reforms to improve the interoperable use of health IT.

A delay without better exchange of information would "rob taxpayers and patients of cost savings while doing absolutely nothing to make the program work well for overburdened doctors and hospitals," say the groups in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other leaders.

The organizations add that Meaningful Use has failed to meet its goals to support an interoperable, connected health system and that the current requirements and pace of Meaningful Use have taken time and resources away from fixing interoperability. Stage 3 might divert even more resources away from addressing access and exchange issues, they say.

"The cost of failure is significant. Patients today have no guarantee that their health information will be accessible by their attending physician. Vendors are spending so much time reacting to numerous, and sometimes conflicting, government regulations. ... Worse, medical providers face financial penalties for using products that are not interoperable," the groups write.

The organizations urge Congress to enact legislation focused on facilitating interoperability, which should:

  • Establish a common definition of interoperability
  • Support an end to information blocking in a taxpayer-funded program
  • Provide physicians access to EHR data before buying a system
  • Have a process for reporting problems
  • Penalize vendors for "bad actions"
  • Support the adoption of industry-developed standards

The letter also recommended that ONC focus on interoperability and not manage grant programs since that's not in ONC's core set of competencies.

Many stakeholders have expressed concern about a lack of interoperability in healthcare and that the Meaningful Use program may actually be hindering data exchange. 

Some have called for Stage 3 to be delayed; others, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, have suggested that the program be completely transformed.

To learn more:
- here's the letter