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Healthcare groups call on CMS and ONC for meaningful use slowdown

Eight influential healthcare groups have joined the campaign to persuade federal health IT officials to ease up on the meaningful use program’s requirements and timelines.

Rather than focusing on demanding easier attestation requirements for meaningful use stage 2, the tack taken by a broad coalition of health IT organizations, the more recent effort is centered on adjusting ONC’s certification requirements for vendors.

In a 2-page letter to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the groups, led by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), called on the government to orient meaningful use more toward EHR usability and require fewer “strict MU requirements and deadlines that do not provide sufficient time to focus on achieving interoperability.”

The letter signatories argued that too-strict EHR certification measures have forced vendors, providers and other healthcare players to meet arbitrary goals that stifle interoperability and technological innovation.

(However, while the groups are asking ONC to slow down on meaningful use, ONC itself has backed away somewhat from the program to concentrate more on interoperability and standards.)

The AAFP-led coalition is asking for these broad changes:

“• Streamline and focus the ONC certification requirements on interoperability, quality measure reporting, and privacy/security. Removing a heavy handed set of certification mandates and allowing instead for a flexible and scalable standard based on open system architectural features like application program interfaces (APIs) will promote the delivery of more innovative and usable solutions. This in turn will allow data to move more freely across the health care system, reducing data lock-in and promoting more usable systems.

• Foster collaboration among stakeholders to promote the development of new HIT that is focused on meeting clinical care needs.

• Remove restrictive MU policies that stifle HIT innovation.

• Recognize vendors and providers need adequate time to develop, implement, and use newly deployed technology and systems before continuing on with subsequent stages of the MU program. Testing and achievement of specific performance benchmarks should occur before providers are held accountable for any new MU requirements.”

The other groups are: the American Medical Association; Medical Group Management Association; National Rural Health Association; Memorial Healthcare System; Mountain States Health Alliance; Premier healthcare alliance; and Summa Health System.

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