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AMA and Other Medical Societies Call for a Change in Interoperability Measurements

The American Medical Association (AMA) and 36 specialty medical associations recently urged the Administration to rethink the way it measures the interoperability of EHRs. The coalition of physician and medical organizations believes the current direction will require physicians to spend too much time meeting measures that will do little to make EHRs valuable to patients and medical practices.

In letters delivered to Andrew Slavitt, the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Karen DeSalvo, the national coordinator for health information technology, the physician organizations said regulators should toss out measures that focus on quantity of records and instead focus on achieving interoperability and care coordination goals. The comment letter is in response to a request for information on assessing interoperability under the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the bipartisan payment reform bill that became law last year.

"The lack of interoperability is one of the major reasons why the promise of electronic health records has not been fulfilled," says AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD. "Vendors have been incentivized to meet the flawed benchmarks under the meaningful use program. We need to replace those benchmarks with ones that focus on better coordinated care. MACRA offers that opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it."

According to the letter, the vast majority of vendors offer products that simply exchange static documents, thus satisfying the minimum meaningful use requirements. "Many in health care view this level of exchange as little more than digital faxing," the letter says.

Rather than using data exchange as the metric for measuring interoperability, the letter urges CMS to focus on usefulness, timeliness, correctness, and completeness of data, as well as the ease and cost of information access. That would benefit patients more than counting how many times voluminous documents are sent back and forth.

"There is no reason to carry over the flawed measures from meaningful use," Stack says. "MACRA gives us a chance to start fresh and produce metrics that enhance the wellness of patients. We are willing to work with CMS and ONC to get there."

Source: American Medical Association