Health IT Now Coalition Statement on Meaningful Use Delay

HITN Hopes Changed Timeline Offers Opportunity to Reframe MU, Ensure MU Works for Providers and Patients Alike

(Washington, D.C.) – This week, ONC and CMS announced the Agencies would add a third year (2016) to Stage 2 Meaningful use program and begin Stage 3 one year later in 2017.  Under the proposal, providers could also continue to meet Stage 1 in 2014. CMS and ONC argue that providers and EHR vendors need additional time and flexibility to meet Stage 2 standards.

The changed timeline may help providers and vendors, but it does little for patients who expect use of health IT to improve their care outcomes, reduce medical errors and bolster quality.

While HITN may not agree with the reason the Agencies made this change, we believe it presents an opportunity to reframe the program to ensure Meaningful Use works for providers and patients by promoting interoperability. We believe a reason providers find the program burdensome is that it focuses on counting transactions by automating current health care processes with all their attendant inefficiencies.

CMS and ONC should use the time created by the proposed change by refocusing the program on achievable goals that allow providers to share information across platforms to improve outcomes and lower costs. We believe CMS and ONC should focus on securing the promise of interoperability by:

  • Promoting standards based exchange through uniform vocabularies and common data definitions and content
  • Ending information blocking that stops patient data exchange at a provider’s doorstep
  • Recognizing and adopting the exchange standards already used in the marketplace, rather than inventing new standards for exchange.

Health IT Now’s Executive Director Joel White commented on the program change:

“A refocused program must ensure interoperability to promote the sharing of essential patient information across platforms, systems, and devices, ensure systems are designed to enhance the provider and patient experience, and to build a framework that allows patients, providers, and caregivers to interact anytime and anywhere care is needed.”

We at Health IT Now are concerned that if the Agencies do not use the time afforded by the changed timeframe to refocus the program, providers will increasingly pressure the Administration to further delay and weaken standards patients want and need to engage in their own health and wellness.

We look forward to working with CMS and ONC to ensure the Meaningful Use program works for providers, vendors AND patients.