Delay in Meaningful Use program timeline should be used to improve program and achieve truly interoperable systems
Washington, D.C. – Late on Friday afternoon, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule on modifications to the timeline for meaningful use and certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT).
“Health IT Now is pleased to see that all eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and CAHs are required to use the 2014 Edition CEHRT in 2015. This will help clear up ambiguity about what standards and functionalities will be available in 2015,” said Joel White, executive director of HITN. “However, we remain concerned that multiple timing changes and delays put off interoperability between doctors and hospitals, which ultimately harms patients. We also believe ONC must capitalize on the opportunity a delay creates to more aggressively address the interoperability challenge in a way that reduces burdens on providers by making EHRs more usable and useful.”
As HITN has long contended, a delay in meaningful use fails to move the needle for patients who are seeking improved access to care and decreased costs. HITN released a statement and submitted comments for the record urging CMS and ONC to reconsider the delay and reframe the debate. However, as the delay is now assured with the issuance of the final rule, CMS and ONC have an opportunity to focus on interoperability.
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
- 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
“Now that the delay is finalized, the extended time frame must be used to improve upon the meaningful use program and ensure our systems are truly interoperable,” White continued. “We plan to work with ONC on confronting this challenge and improving the program going forward to ensure meaningful use works for providers, vendors and patients.”