As requirements for Stage 3 of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs continue to be finalized, the Health IT Policy Committee’s Meaningful Use Workgroup is looking for feedback from stakeholders on their overall experiences to date with meaningful use.

The workgroup will hold virtual listening sessions on May 20 (eligible hospitals and professionals) and May 27 (ACOs, EHR developers/vendors, payers, purchasers, and Regional Extension Centers) to hear about stakeholders' successes and challenges in achieving meaningful use. Specifically, the workgroup is interested in experiences with achieving Stage 1 and steps stakeholders are considering as they approach Stage 2. The workgroup also wants know what stakeholders believe are specific areas that should be focused on to provide the most impact in achieving the Stage 3 requirements.

In March, the Health IT Policy Committee approved scaled-down recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services on criteria for Stage 3 of the meaningful use program. The goal was to tighten the focus of Stage 3, reduce the burden on providers and rely on available and mature standards. Nevertheless, the American Medical Association is warning that many physicians will not be able to advance to Stage 3 and is suggesting radical changes to all three MU stages. Absent significant changes, more physicians--already struggling with the first two stages--will drop out of the program or be unable to move to Stage 3, AMA recently argued in a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D.

Adding fuel to the fire, last month an independent group of scientists advising the federal government found that the criteria for Stages 1 and 2 "fall short of achieving meaningful use in any practical sense" and that "large-scale interoperability amounts to little more than replacing fax machines with the electronic delivery of page-formatted medical records." And, at a public hearing earlier this month on how the EHR certification process can be improved, a HIT Policy Committee workgroup received was an ear full from stakeholders fed up with the number and pace of meaningful use requirements.

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