AMA to CMS: Critical changes needed before moving to Meaningful Use Stage 3

The American Medical Association (AMA) called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to address the challenges physicians are facing with the Meaningful Use program before moving on to the next stage. In a comment letter from AMA Chief Executive Officer and EVP James L. Madara, MD, the AMA recommended the program focus on patient safety, privacy and security, interoperability and how we can promote rather than hinder innovation.

“As we’ve said many times, the Meaningful Use program is not meaningful in its current form and is not helping physicians use electronic health records in a way that  facilitates the best care coordination, increases efficiency or improves the quality of care for patients,” said AMA President-elect Steven J. Stack, MD. “We cannot ignore the current problems and barriers that exist with the program. The recommendations we provided address the significant challenges facing physicians, patients and vendors, and, if adopted, will lead to higher quality, cost effective care and increased innovation.”

Despite the fact that more than 80 percent of physicians are now using electronic health records (EHRs), less than 10 percent of eligible professionals were able to attest for Stage 2 Meaningful Use in 2014. The AMA recently supported many of CMS’ proposed modifications for 2015-2017 that could address some of measures that are the most challenging for physicians. However, it will take time for those modifications to take effect, which is one of the reasons why the AMA is calling on CMS to assess the impact of the proposed changes before moving forward with Stage 3. 

The draft Stage 3 regulations were also drafted before CMS had the opportunity to assess the structure, requirements and impact of the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS). The MIPS program, which was created by the recent landmark legislation to reform Medicare, requires significant changes to the physician quality reporting programs, including Meaningful Use. These enhancements will transform Meaningful Use from a stand-alone program to one component of a larger reporting system, which will require alignment, resources and more regulations. Therefore the success of MIPS hinges on the success of Meaningful Use, which means more physicians must continue to participate and have access to the appropriate tools needed to move to an outcomes-based system.

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AMA, American Medical Association, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Certification Criteria, CMS, interoperability, Meaningful Use, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, ONC, Stage 3

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