Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

How Meaningful Use Requirements Hinder EHR Interoperability

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Changes to meaningful use requirements over the next two years must go into effect for the sake of advancing EHR interoperability.

HIMSS believe modified meaningful use requirements are essential to EHR interoperability

That is one of the claims made by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in its comments on the proposed modifications to the EHR Incentive Programs between 2015 and 2017. And it comes in response to a provision of the proposed rule that would reduce the meaningful use 2015 reporting requirements from a full year to 90 days.

"As HIMSS has repeatedly stated in advocating for the 90-day reporting period in 2015, a full year of reporting endangers the Meaningful Use Program’s objectives of achieving nationwide adoption of interoperable EHRs and the transformation of healthcare in America," write President & CEO H. Stephen Lieber, CAE and Board Chair Paul Kleeberg, MD. A full year of reporting potentially reduces the number of providers participating in the program."

According to HIMSS, provider participation in meaningful use is instrumental to the task of advancing EHR interoperability because of its requirements for exchanging health information.

"We anticipate that CMS granting flexibility in the 2015 reporting period will help many providers remain in the overall program, effectively meet the requirements for Meaningful Use in a safe manner for patients, and continue progress toward the goal of delivering more value-based care," states the letter to the Centers Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.

The reducing meaningful use reporting period in 2015 will likewise prove beneficial to the transition to the tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10).

HIMSS has called on CMS to move quickly to finalize the proposed meaningful use modifications so that eligible professionals and hospitals have sufficient time to implement the appropriate certified EHR technology (CEHRT):

Our overriding concern is continuing to enable providers to utilize health IT in the march toward healthcare transformation, and that is best accomplished by providers remaining as participants in the Meaningful Use Program. There will be very little time for providers and developers to make any adjustments to their technology and their workflow and get a full 90 days of meaningful use reporting started and completed before December 31, 2015. We ask that any changes finalized in this rule take in account the tight timeline between Final Rule publication and required implementation dates.

The association has also thrown support behind modificaitons to health data exchange requirements pertaining to summary of care objectives and measures, again for the sake of advancing EHR interoperability.

"Standards in creating the summary of care record can significantly reduce the complexity of interfaces between different systems and promote widespread exchange and interoperability," maintain Lieber and Kleeberg. "Overall, we applaud the changes proposed by CMS that increase flexibility for providers while continuing to drive interoperability across care settings and encourage further innovation."

CMS now has the job of reviewing comments and finalizing these meaningful use modifications.