The federal government will miss a huge opportunity to advance use of electronic health records if it continues on an "all or nothing" approach to meeting "meaningful use" criteria to qualify for incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

In a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the meaningful use proposed rule, the association expressed great concern that many eligible providers won't be able to achieve all criteria by 2011 or 2012. "The AAFP does not want to discourage practices who cannot achieve 100% of the requirements from using, improving or implementing EHRs simply because they will receive no incentive for anything less," according to the letter. "We strongly believe that offering a partial incentive for partial Meaningful Use will vastly increase the number of eligible providers who will make the attempt to become meaningful users."

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