AHA urges careful cost-benefit analysis of health IT mandates

Hospitals need more flexibility in complying with Meaningful Use mandates and more certainty that the current ICD-10 deadline will stand, the American Hospital Association (AHA) said in a statement to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

It also asked Congress to enact policies to hold vendors accountable for designing and marketing safe, interoperable products.

While the federal incentives were helpful in offsetting the costs of purchasing and installing electronic health records, the organization said those payments covered only 10 percent of members' implementation costs. It estimated that between 2010 and 2013, hospitals spent an average of $47 billion per year on IT operating and capital costs. Data are not yet available for 2014.

"We believe any future requirements, including the upcoming [Meaningful Use] Stage 3 rule should be informed by field experience and carefully weigh the benefits of new requirements against the expected costs of compliance," the association said in the statement.  

AHA urged lawmakers to allow hospitals and other providers adequate time to transition to Meaningful Use Stage 2, and to hold off on Stage 3 requirements until enough organizations have met Stage 2.

AHA also said: 

  • In Stage 3, the requirements should not hold hospitals accountable for the actions of others. While it's OK to require organizations to have a patient portal, the association opposes being required to meet a specific requirement on the percentage of patients who use it.
  • Existing market pressures are motivating information sharing, making further policy drivers in this area unnecessary and possibly contradict other incentives.
  • Congress should guarantee the Oct. 1 deadline for ICD-10; however, the prospect of a dual-coding period is unworkable.

Though the new code set has been delayed twice, last month members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health made clear they do not support putting off the deadline yet again.

While the Senate committee earlier this week heard more about the barriers to interoperability, the AHA backs conformance testing not only of EHR systems themselves, but their as interfaces to ancillary systems such as laboratory information systems.

To learn more:
- read the statement (.pdf)

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