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AMA Tabs Stage 3 Meaningful Use a Top 2016 Health IT Concern

“The medical community immediately called on policymakers to put physicians back in control of their practices and put patients before bureaucracy after the rule was released and will continue these efforts this year.”

By Sara Heath

Among the top healthcare IT concerns for the upcoming year is Stage 3 meaningful use, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

american medical association AMA meaningful use

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its schedule and requirements for the final stage of the EHR Incentive Programs, scheduling the required Stage 3 meaningful use implementation for 2018. These changes, according to AMA, will be one of the top concerns for health IT professionals in 2016.

This burdensome regulatory program is scheduled to move forward next year, following the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) release of the meaningful use Stage 3 meaningful use final rule late in 2015,” wrote AMA staff writer Troy Parks. “The medical community immediately called on policymakers to put physicians back in control of their practices and put patients before bureaucracy after the rule was released and will continue these efforts this year.”

Most notably, the AMA spoke out against the timeline for Stage 3 meaningful use, calling for a delay considering the cumbersome requirements of the program.

At the end of 2016, AMA submitted comments to CMS, explaining that meaningful use needs a major overhaul to help improve physician workflow, patient engagement, interoperability, and quality measures reporting.

AMA’s comments spelled out what the organization thinks Stage 3 meaningful use should look like, stating that the program needs to both work with pre-exisiting EHRs and realistic physician workflows.

“[O]ur revised vision of Stage 3 utilizes real-life care scenarios to encourage all participants to exchange data and improve technology. This new framework is not a complete redesign, since we know we must work with already implemented EHR systems,” wrote AMA’s executive vice president and CEO James L. Madara, MD, the author of the letter.

Furthermore, AMA created a physician-led, grassroots campaign against Stage 3 meaningful use entitled Break The Red Tape, calling on physicians to demand an end to medical bureaucracy and a delay in Stage 3.

AMA also referenced health data security and telemedicine as major health IT concerns for the upcoming year.

Over the past two years, the healthcare industry has been dealing with a significant influx of health data breaches, with nearly 81 percent of health IT executives reporting at least one data breach at their organization in that timeframe, according to AMA. The organization’s goal is to work with the federal government to create standards for health data storage that would protect against threats of health data breach.

“With such private information so vulnerable to attack, appropriate protections for sharing and data storage must be a focal point for health IT,” Parks wrote. “The AMA is working with the federal government to ensure better protections for health information.”

In fact, healthcare data breaches are a top concern for most individuals across the healthcare industry, according to Experian. This is because health records will continue to contain valuable information such as Social Security numbers that could potentially be used for identity theft. This information make health records a prime target for thieves to take advantage of.

AMA also reported that telemedicine will be a vital concern throughout the healthcare industry, especially due to its ability to deliver fast care to those in areas where healthcare is harder to come by.

Specifically, AMA hopes to work with the government to develop the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which would allow a physician who is licensed in one state provide telehealth care to an individual located in another state.

The government is also considering further changes that could potentially help the expansion of telemedicine. Currently, the Senate Finance Committee is considering changes that would expand telemedicine coverage over Medicare. If passed, these changes would make telemedicine a key part of chronic care management for Medicare patients.

AMA listed several other key health IT concerns for the upcoming year, including Medicare reform, health insurance mergers, provider networks and balance billing, prescription drug abuse and addiction, graduate medical education funding and student loan relief, and prescription drug costs.

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