Electronic Health Records

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CHIME Pleased with Stage 3 Meaningful Use Proposed Rule

By Vera Gruessner

After the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule was released, healthcare organizations began to show some concern about certain suggested requirements. For instance, many were unsure whether providers would be able to secure more than 5 percent of their patients downloading and viewing their medical information under Stage 2 Meaningful Use rules.

However, under the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule, providers will need to ensure that more than 25 percent of patients use the portal to view and download their healthcare materials. Many are unsure whether this is even achievable for the healthcare industry.

The proposed rule also increased the amount of electronic prescribing and computerized order entry forms healthcare professionals will need to achieve to qualify for payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

After speaking with EHRIntelligence.com, Russ Branzell, Chief Executive Officer at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), mentioned that his organization is “overall pleased” with the “usability and interoperability standards” set forth under the proposed rule. Nonetheless, Branzell imagines CHIME will offer “pages of comments” to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with suggestions on improving the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule.

The proposed requirements also state that physicians will have more options available to communicate with their patients.  When asked whether a variety of communication tools will be beneficial to healthcare professionals or bring them more burden, Branzell said, “Flexibility is the key to communication.” He explained that a variety of tools should be useful to physicians and other medical staff.

“However, if this leads to a process of more and more requirements, there will be some degree of burden on doctors,” Branzell stated. “[The variety of tools] should be very positive but there may be some pushback from physician groups [if more requirements are established].”

When asked whether physicians will be able to achieve the proposed requirement of one-quarter of their patients downloading and viewing medical data through portals, CHIME CEO Russ Branzell found it unlikely.

“This is going to be a significant challenge. The reason for this is because we don’t have aggregate patient population numbers,” Branzell said.

He went on to explain that patient portals are not established for every possible care setting such as the emergency room. While there are exact numbers of patients using portals available for “primary care and wellness settings,” there is no exact data surrounding “episodic care.”

“The requirement is probably not achievable, which is why we’re now seeing pushback from physicians,” Branzell mentioned.

With regard to the requirement proposing increasing the use of electronic prescribing and computerized order entry, Branzell mentioned that this endeavor is achievable among the medical industry.

“If you look at e-prescribing, the numbers are much higher than in previous [meaningful use] requirements,” the CHIME CEO said. “Once they created the workflow, physicians haven’t utilized these systems for only half of their patients. In my own care, I have not received a single paper prescription in the past three years.”

Branzell concludes by explaining that technology is now more mature and capable of meeting the majority of the requirements set forth under the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule.

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