Tang: Meaningful use standards should be tougher

The Medicare and Medicaid EMR incentive program is a "$27 billion tail wagging a $2.5 trillion dog," otherwise known as the U.S. healthcare industry, according to Dr. Paul Tang, VP and CMIO of Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation. But, Tang said during a keynote address to the American Health Information Management Association conference in Orlando, Fla., last week, "There's more movement amid providers and vendors than ever before," Healthcare IT News reports.

"All of a sudden we have the docs' attention."

Tang, a member of the federal Health IT Policy Committee, has been a vocal supporter of the stimulus plan, as well as tougher standards for "meaningful use" of EMRs than CMS set for Stage 1, 2011-12, because he believes EMRs are a catalyst for true healthcare reform. Things are moving fast, but perhaps not fast enough for Tang's liking.

The "incentive program was front-loaded, trying to get as many people to move as quickly as possible," Tang said. But he said authorities should ratchet up the requirements for EMR functionality, privacy and patient engagement just as rapidly once providers have their systems in place. The goal of meaningful use should be more than just an electronic health records and a personal health record for all Americans, but "personalized health records," according to Tang.

"This is a different kind of transformation: A transformation of our relationship with patients," Tang reportedly said. And it's something that is "essential for reform."

For more coverage of Tang's speech:
- read this Healthcare IT News story