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AMA, provider groups call for delay of 2015 certified EHRs

The American Medical Association and 102 other physician groups have called on CMS and ONC to delay the use of 2015 certified EHRs beyond the current timeframe of required use starting in 2018 because they are concerned the EHR technology is not widely available yet.

“The undersigned organizations are writing to request a deferment from implementing 2015 Edition certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) until such technology is widely available,” the letter said. “We believe that the technology will not be readily available to physicians across a wide variety of specialties and that the use of 2015 Edition CEHRT should remain voluntary.”

The letter goes on to say that few EHR vendors have fully upgraded their systems to be 2015 Edition certified. Only 54 of the over 3,700 EHR products are currently certified EHRs and posted on the Certified Health IT Product List.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician groups said in the letter that requiring physicians to upgrade to the 2015 edition EHR technology by 2018 would limit the choice of EHR technologies since so few are actually certified EHRs at this time. The AMA added that keeping with the current timeline could force physicians to choose and implement a system that is ultimately not suitable for their specialty or patient population.

“This is not only contrary to the purpose of an electronic health record (EHR)—a tool to help physicians respond to patient care needs—but also jeopardizes a physician’s chance of success in the [Quality Payment Program] QPP and [Meaningful Use] MU,” the letter said.  “Physicians should not be subject to financial penalties under the QPP and MU because vendors have not certified their 2015 Edition products in a timely manner.”

The letter also points out that the switch to the 2014 CEHRT created similar issues and the result was a large backlog of products. To overcome this challenge, CMS eventually had to create a hardship exemption for technology delays.