My role as a blogger has never been to pick a political side. Rest assured my subsequent analysis of the recent letter sent to Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of Health and Human Services) by influential Congressmen (Republican leaders Dave Camp and Wally Herger, chair of the Ways and Means Committee and its health subcommittee, respectively, and Fred Upton and Joe Pitts, chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its health subcommittee, respectively) is based solely on fact checking and not politics.
I believe that if there is to be a battle to change the course of the Meaningful Use program the initiative will need to be based on solid facts, not flat-out inaccuracies. This attempt to reverse course on EHR adoption is so amateurish that I can’t help but believe that there is ZERO chance that it will succeed.
Let’s break down parts of the letter…
- The Congressmen wrote:
“For example, proposed Stage 1 proposed rules set electronic prescribing and medication reconciliation compliance thresholds at 75 percent and 80 percent, respectively, while the final Stage 2 rules set this threshold at just 50 percent. This is but one example of how the Stage 2 rules ask less of providers and do less for program efficiency.”
Just not true — it’s like comparing apples with oranges. The proposed rule for stage 1 was not the final rule for stage 1. The final rule for stage 1 set the thresholds for electronic prescribing (eRx) and medication reconciliation compliance at 40% and 50% and not 75% and 80%. The new stage 2 final rule is more stringent when compared to the final stage 1 rule for electronic prescribing (50%) and just as stringent for mediation reconciliation (50%). The truth is that meeting these thresholds is really not the issue; when a provider moves to electronic prescribing with MediTouch EHR almost 100% of their permissible prescriptions move electronically.
- The Congressmen also wrote:
“The Stage 1 final rules required providers to test the ability to exchange information with other providers, while Stage 2 eliminates this requirement for Stage 1. As a result, hospitals and physicians who are deemed Stage 1 ‘meaningful users’ are not required to know with certainty whether their systems are capable of exchanging information.”
Once again, a poorly researched statement. Stage 2 final rules did drop the measure called, “exchange information with other providers,” but it replaced the measure with a much more logical and effective one. Before, providers had to perform a single test of information exchange, and now providers must not just test but also make point-to-point communication via a secure email protocol part of their normal workflow. Physicians have been looking for ways to send medical records securely to their colleagues and this new phase of Meaningful Use will meet that need.
The Congressmen who wrote this letter missed an important point with regard to the Meaningful Use Program. If you are a Medicare provider, one way or another you will have to comply with the Meaningful Use Program. Every significant Medicare provider will adopt an EHR even if they don’t receive any incentive payment, because providers will not be able to withstand the ongoing penalties related to lack of participation. Incentives last just 5 years, but penalties last forever. Changing the course of the program would actually delay the penalty phase. At this point it would be illogical for the government to change course, and a change in the Meaningful Use program that slows EHR adoption is just not in the cards.
In every way Meaningful Use Stage 2 raises the bar with regard to challenging EHR/EMR vendors to deliver even better health record solutions. Our role at MediTouch is to incorporate the Stage 2 requirements in such a way that meeting the second stage of Meaningful Use is simple for our providers. After studying the final rule I am confident that meeting the second stage with MediTouch EHR will augment and not impede traditional office workflows.