On Wednesday, a coalition of 35 medical societies led by the American Medical Association sent a letter to National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo calling for major changes to the meaningful use electronic health record certification program, The Hill reports.
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
In the letter, the medical societies wrote that they have received complaints from vendors and physician informaticists that meaningful use “certification has become the priority in [health IT] design at the expense of meeting physician customers’ needs, patient safety and product innovation” (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).
The groups also expressed concern about the “lack of oversight [the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT] places on authorized testing and certification bodies for ensuring testing procedures and standards are adequate to secure and protect electronic patient information contained in EHRs” (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 1/22). The letter also alleged that ONC has allowed the release of unsafe EHRs (Gold, Politico Pro, 1/21).
The groups wrote that “there is an urgent need to change the current certification program to better align end-to-end testing to focus on EHR usability, interoperability and safety” (Health Data Management, 1/22).
To improve the EHR incentive program, the groups suggested ONC:
- Separate EHR certification from the meaningful use program;
- Reassess alternative software testing methods;
- Increase transparency and uniformity on user-centered design testing;
- Include exception handling in EHR testing;
- Develop consolidated clinical document architecture guidance and tests to support information exchange;
- Seek stakeholder feedback; and
- Provide more education on EHR implementation (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 1/22).