EHR Regs: Missed Opportunity or Too Tough?

July 21, 2010

Are CMS’ final rule for EHR meaningful use too weak to improve patient care, or too strict for providers to achieve?

Are CMS’ final rule for EHR meaningful use too weak to improve patient care, or too strict for providers to achieve? 

During a House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee meeting yesterday, some Republicans challenged the final rule, according to HealthLeaders Media. The regs “represent a missed opportunity to improve patient care and reduce waste," said Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA).

The final rules were more flexible and included lower overall measures of the critieria. Instead of meeting 25 criteria to show meaningful use of an EHR, and therefore qualify for federal incentives, providers must meet 15 core requirements, as well as five additional ones chosen from a list of 10.

Meanwhile, the AMA said they wer pleased with the improvements that made the requirements more flexible, but the organization said barriers still remain. According to the AMA statement: “Among the concerns are questions about product availability, the tight timeline for adoption and the high overall number of measures physicians are required to meet. While the volume of measures was reduced overall, the final rule requires physicians to meet 20 measures in the first year which is still too high, especially for smaller practices that are new to the technology.”

The AMA also said there is no EHR on the market that does all the things reuqiremd to achieve meaningful use. But aren’t many vendors offering guarantees that thie rproducts will pass muster?

Clearly, reactions are mixed on the rule, and David Blumenthal, of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s response to lawmakers offers a glimpse of the delicate balancing act. According to the HealthLeaders Media article, Blumenthal said that if the regs set the bar too low, "I think we would indeed be in danger of not getting value for money. If we went too high, we would be in danger of stifling the program right at the beginning."