Changing or delaying Stage 3 of meaningful use would only harm patients, says the Consumer Partnership for eHealth (CPeH) and the Campaign for Better Care (CBC) in response to a recent white paper released by a group of six Republican senators questioning the trajectory of the HITECH Act and the EHR Incentive Program. Meaningful use is “just starting to pay off,” and pausing or delaying the latter stages would only compromise the efforts of physicians and government agencies alike.
The letter, signed by a variety of advocacy groups including the American Association on Health and Disability, the Caregiver Action Network, and the National Partnership for Women and Families, strongly states that any delay or retooling of meaningful use will stifle innovation, slow progress towards interoperability, and keep concrete, important changes to the healthcare system from reaching patients.
“Both lawmakers and their constituents on both sides of the aisle agree that despite the best efforts of deeply caring health professionals, our healthcare system is simply too expensive in both financial and human terms, for patients and providers alike,” the letter says. “We cannot transform the entire nations’ health information backbone on a dime. Through the EHR Incentive Program, Congress provided the nation with the necessary tools to transform American healthcare from the current fee-for-service model to one that rewards outcomes and quality care. These goals cannot and should not be compromised with delays or distractions.”
Meaningful use has significantly advanced progress towards the interoperability of health IT, the letter continues, by leading the way towards technical standards that have streamlined development and incentivized innovation. The federal leadership of CMS has achieved measurable results, and the program should be leveraged, not rebooted, in order to continue making progress. Incorporating routine assessments and necessary changes should be encouraged, but the fundamental shift in direction suggested by the senators’ white paper, titled “Reboot: Re-examine the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT”, would do more harm than good.
“Meaningful use is working,” the letter concludes. “It is imperative that we keep Stage 2 implementation and Stage 3 rulemaking on their intended trajectory and implement the lessons learned in order to ensure that the outlay of public funds through this program results in a healthier population, better care, and more affordable healthcare costs.”