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Women's Health Leader Dismayed by Proposed Changes to Meaningful Use Criteria

Statement of Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families:

"The proposed modification to meaningful use for 2015 to 2017, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday, is a startling and unwelcome departure from the administration's commitment to health care transformation that produces higher value, more patient- and family-centered care. All of us who care about achieving the 'Triple Aim'—better care, better health, and lower costs—know that success depends on patients being equal and engaged partners, true cocreators, of their health and their care. This rule signals a turn in precisely the wrong direction.

Of particular concern is the changed requirement for health care providers in stages 1 and 2 of the meaningful use incentive program. Current regulations require that individuals, patients, and families can access their health information online and send secure electronic messages in stage 2. The new CMS proposal would put progress in reverse because providers would now only have to show that one patient, rather than 5% of their patients, used online access to their information and that secure messaging was merely turned on, not whether any patient has actually used it.

Meaningful use will help us improve care if it is used not just by doctors, but by patients as well. Health care providers must honor their responsibility to help patients engage in their care; effective communication between patients and providers is a two-way street. If adopted, these changes would undermine the momentum to give patients tools that would improve their ability to understand and manage their care, communicate effectively with providers, and participate in efforts to enhance coordination of care across settings and providers—which is essential to improving health and our health care system.

This rule is a dramatic retreat from essential, ongoing efforts to make patients and their families equal partners in improving health through shared information, understanding, and decision-making. It would undermine recent initiatives that advance value-based delivery system reform.

We were stunned and dismayed by Friday's announcement, and hope the proposed rule will be revised significantly to account for the needs of patients and their families, as well as providers. As advocates for patients and families, we will do all we can to ensure that happens."

This statement can be found online at www.nationalpartnership.org/news-room/press-releases/womens-health-leader-dismayed-by-proposed-changes-to-meaningful-use-criteria.html.

Source: National Partnership for Women & Families