MGMA: physicians face significant challenges meeting EHR ‘meaningful use’ requirements

Jan. 6, 2010

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Dec. 31, 2009 – The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) contends that the proposed electronic health record (EHR) incentive program rule and the standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria interim final rule released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) are overly complex and that medical groups will confront significant challenges trying to meet the program requirements. The proposed rules were released Dec. 30 in support of the EHR incentives mandated as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“The Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs must be designed to facilitate the rapid deployment of health information technology,” said William F. Jessee, MD, FACMPE, MGMA president and CEO. “Overly burdensome requirements and needlessly complex administration will only discourage physician participation in the program and the implementation of EHRs. As strong proponents of the use of health information technology in the ambulatory setting, we encourage the administration to simplify the meaningful use criteria and qualifying procedures to ensure success of the program.”

The rules include a number of requirements which will create significant barriers to physician efforts to achieve the designation of and prove that they are “meaningful users” of an EHR including:

  • Unreasonable thresholds for some of the meaningful use criteria (i.e., computerized prescription order entry, electronic claim submission, electronic insurance eligibility verification, and others);
  • Potentially difficult meaningful use attestation after the first year; and
  • A requirement that physician offices provide patients and others with electronic copies of medical records.

“We were pleased to see that the CMS and ONC rules include some flexibility, especially in the areas of escalating stages of meaningful use requirements, straightforward first year attestation and reasonable 90-day reporting windows,” Jessee said. ” However, we firmly believe that the government should make additional changes to achieve wide-spread adoption by professionals in all types of clinical settings.”