In response to a request for feedback from Senators on the status of health IT adoption, CHIME is asking for a one-year extension of Meaningful Use Stage 2.
“We want to ensure organizations are given the best opportunities for success,” said CHIME CEO Russ Branzell in an interview with healthsystemCIO.com. “And what we heard from both our CIO members and our Foundation members was ‘we just need a little more time for the optimization phase.’”
The organization stated that the additional 12 months “will give providers the opportunity to optimize their EHR technology and achieve the benefits of Stage 1 and Stage 2; it will give vendors the time needed to prepare, develop and deliver needed technology to correspond with Stage 3; and it will give policymakers time to assess and evaluate programmatic trends needed to craft thoughtful Stage 3 rules.”
In the letter, which was written in response to a white paper outlining several concerns, including increased care costs and lack of interoperability, CHIME also voiced support for the federal incentive program. “We strongly believe that EHR incentive payments under the policy of Meaningful Use have been essential in moving the nation’s healthcare system into the 21st Century,” it said. “Through the EHR Incentive Payments program, CMS and ONC have begun to mitigate a fractured and incompatible state for EHRs.”
According to Branzell, the catalyst for CHIME’s statement was twofold; to provide a response to the Senators’ call for input, and to highlight the progress that has been made by Meaningful Use. “We do think the industry is headed in the right direction,” he noted. “And we don’t want to start over again or have a major pause — that would be detrimental.”
That being said, he acknowledged that implementing EHR systems and meeting Meaningful Use “puts a mental and physical drain on organizations. You need time to catch your breath and get the benefits of the technologies that have been implemented before taking the next step.”
Branzell anticipates a positive response from the Senate, and said he welcomes discussion and review from a legislative perspective.
“They’ve given us a lot of money; I hope they ask the hard questions and ask to see proof of the benefits,” he noted. “It’s no different than MU stage 1; you want to make sure the programs in place are appropriate. We want to make sure we’re doing this right, given the time frame of what’s ahead and what needs to get done, we think 12 months is appropriate.”
Along with recommending an extension to Stage 2, CHIME also called on Congress to request an update from ONC on what technologies, architectures and strategies exist to mitigate patient matching errors; seek feedback from the public via congressional hearing or other formal commenting mechanism; and determine how current work at the S&I Framework could be leveraged to address the foundational challenge of patient data-matching.
For more information on CHIME Public Policy initiatives, click here.