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CHIME Calls For Meaningful Use Stage 2 Extension

Following a request for feedback from senators in Washington on the status of HIT adoption, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) issued a response declaring that a one-year extension of meaningful use stage 2 would “maximize the opportunity of program success.”

The organization of healthcare CIOs said the additional 12-months for meeting stage 2 “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 calling for an extension to stage 2, CHIME defended much of the federal incentive program’s progress to date, arguing that fundamental shifts in HIT adoption and EHR product capabilities have been made possible through the policy of meaningful use.

“While we share some of your concerns with the current state of interoperability, 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,” the CHIME letter says. “Through the EHR Incentive Payments program, CMS and ONC have begun to mitigate a fractured and incompatible state for EHRs.”

The response comes amid concerns levied by six senators that the current direction of the HITECH program is flawed. The white paper released on April 16, “REBOOT: Re-examining the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT,” outlines several concerns including increased health care costs, lack of momentum toward interoperability, patient privacy, and long-term program sustainability.

“Your report highlights a number of fair and responsible criticisms of the program and it echoes many of the concerns CHIME has voiced over the last three years,” the letter says. “But given the nation’s increased adoption of EHRs, the increased investments in interoperable solutions, and the early-stage transformations encountered every day by our members, we remain convinced that the trajectory set by meaningful use is the correct one.

“CHIME believes the industry’s guiding principle should be to maximize the opportunity of program success and monitor the timelines needed to do that.  For this reason, we formally and strongly recommend a one-year extension to stage 2 before progressing to stage 3 of meaningful use,” the organization concludes.

CHIME also called upon 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.

Responding to a section of the white paper on audits and program integrity, CHIME says CIOs understand the desire to ensure that incentive payments are going to those who have qualified to receive them, but this intent must not result in unreasonable auditing efforts that are poorly structured, inconsistent, or lack uniform criteria. “We ask that Congress ensure CMS audits are efficient and effective without overburdening providers,” the letter states.

To read the full Senate response, visit the Public Policy section of the CHIME website at www.cio-chime.org/advocacy/policy.asp.

Source: College of Healthcare Information Management Executives