The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, in a letter to six U.S. Senators, strongly defends the electronic health records meaningful use program, while calling for a one-year extension of Stage 2 before Stage 3 begins.

Believing meaningful use lacks a path to interoperability and that EHRs cause higher billings and fraud, the senators recently called for a pause of meaningful use to re-examine its strategies and “reboot” the program. While tweaks are needed, a reboot of the program is not necessary, CHIME says.

“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,” according to the CHIME letter. “One of the goals behind meaningful use is to eliminate inconsistency and variability long-since built into health care information technology systems. Through the EHR Incentive Payments program, CMS and ONC have begun to mitigate this fractured and incompatible state for EHRs. Specifically, we believe that the certification process has had a major impact on the adoption and use of health information technology. The work accomplished through meaningful use to reach consensus on transport, vocabulary and content standards is foundational to advancing interoperability and exchange.”

That said, a one-year extension of Stage 2, and delaying Stage 3 by another year, would maximize the opportunity for success of the meaningful use program, CHIME contends. “An extension is vital for providers, vendors and policymakers to ensure the outcomes sought in Stage 3 are realized,” according to the comment letter.  “A year extension of 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.”

Text of CHIME’s comment letter is available here.

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