Sixteen healthcare provider associations have joined to send a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price asking for indefinite delays in implementing Stage 3 of the electronic health records meaningful use program as well the Stage-3 like measures in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

Additionally, the groups say providers should not be required to move to the 2015 Edition of certified electronic health records systems.

Provider associations signing the letter include American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American College of Cardiology, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, America’s Essential Hospitals, Association of Black Cardiologists, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Medical Group Management Association, North American Spine Society, Premier Healthcare Alliance and Urgent Care Association of America.

“Our members are very concerned with the unrealistic timeframe and the difficult-to-meet requirements laid out in Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program, as well as with the related requirements under MIPS,” member associations contend in the letter to Price.

Furthermore, the current schedule for providers to implement the 2015 Edition by January 2018 does not take into account provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act that include improving the usability of EHRs and reducing regulatory burdens.

The letter likely will receive a warm reception because Price, a physician, has criticized the overall usability of EHRs. During his time in Congress, he introduced the Meaningful Use Hardship Release Act of 2015 (H.R. 3940) and was an early co-sponsor of the FLEX-IT Act (H.R. 5001). Both bills sought to reduce regulatory burdens so physicians could focus more on patient care.

During his confirmation hearing, Price said it was imperative to ensure that meaningful use metrics “actually correlate with the quality of care that’s being provided, as opposed to so many things that are required right now of the physician or the provider that make it so they are wasting their time documenting these things so that it fits into some matrix somewhere, but it doesn’t result in higher quality of care or outcomes for patients.”

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The provider organizations also told Price that only 1 percent of EHRs have been certified for the 2015 Edition of certified electronic health records systems. “Since the 2015 Edition is required for use in 2018 by providers for Stage 3 and MIPS, it is extremely unlikely that vendors will be able to deliver the systems in time for providers to test and deploy them by January 1, 2018,” the letter noted. “Without these systems, providers face rushed implementations, which may jeopardize patient safety coupled with the potential for substantial financial penalties.”

Providers also are being forced to contract with third-party vendors to support quality measure reporting, because some certified EHRs are not able to handle reporting requirements, the associations told Price.

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“In short, we see no reason to hasten the expensive move to 2015 Edition certified electronic health record technology, especially since doing so is not alone sufficient for achieving interoperability and does not cure the problems associated with electronic clinical quality measure reporting and gives clinicians little time to acclimate to MIPs.”

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