Provider groups ask feds to delay EHR upgrade deadline
- The American Medical Association (AMA), 55 other care provider groups and some state medical societies are requesting a delay in the 2015 electronic health record (EHR) certification requirements to ensure clinicians can transition smoothly to the new technology. They want the compliance deadline to be postponed at least until Jan. 2019.
- In a Feb. 27 letter to CMS acting Administrator Patrick Conway and acting National Coordinator for Health IT Jon White, the medical specialty groups plus 44 state medical societies noted that few vendors have fully upgraded their EHR systems and that the majority of certified products are from a limited number of vendors.
- “Requiring physicians to upgrade to 2015 Edition technology by 2018 limits choice by forcing physicians to select a system from approximately one percent of existing products,” the letter states.
According to the letter, just 54 of more than 3700 products have been certified to 2015 standards and posted on the Certified Health IT Product List. Requiring that physicians upgrade to the new technology by 2018 could cause some to switch vendors or select systems that aren’t suitable for their specialty and patient population.
“Requiring the use of 2015 Edition CEHRT by 2018 will result in rushed upgrades, installations, a lack of user training, and an overall disruption to physicians’ practices,” the letter says. Providers should be able to identify their own 2015 Edition rollout timeline independent of federal regulation, it adds. It also suggests that small and solo practices with few technology resources be allowed to continue using both 2014 and 2015 editions and meet modified Stage 2 Meaningful Use and Advancing Care Information measures.
Nearly all U.S. hospitals have adopted certified EHRs. In 2015, 96% of nonfederal acute care hospitals had a certified EHR system and 84% had at least a basic EHR system, according to the HHS. But many EHR platforms fail to meet ONC certification requirements, according to a 2015 analysis by researchers at Medstar Health’s National Center for Human Factors. For instance, one-third failed to meet the requirement of delineating their user-centered design process and nearly two-thirds failed to enroll at least 15 users in EHR usability tests.
Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator for CMS, recently criticized the health IT industry for not responding better to user frustration with many of its products. Asked if taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from the federal government’s $35 billion investment in health IT Slavitt said, “Not yet we haven’t.”
A study published in September in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that physicians spend roughly half their workdays on EHR and administrative tasks. That burden extends to the examination room, where 37% of doctors’ time is taken up with such tasks. Yet in a recent survey of healthcare CIOs, 38% said they plan to invest heavily in EHR optimization over the next three years. Healthcare leaders responding to another survey cited mobility tools, computer-assisted physician documentation and speech recognition among enhancements on their EHR wish list.