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AMA News Room

May 20, 2015

AMA Commends CMS for Proposed Modifications to Meaningful Use

For immediate release:
May 20, 2015

Changes will allow more physicians to participate in the complex program

Chicago – The American Medical Association (AMA) today supported a number of changes to Meaningful Use proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that could help more physicians successfully participate in the program over the next two years and called for the administration to finalize the new rule as soon as possible. The AMA has been advocating for more flexibility in the Meaningful Use program since its inception to allow more physicians to integrate technologies into their practices in a manner that is meaningful to them and their patients.  

"Physicians want to use new technologies that help strengthen physician-patient relationships, improve health outcomes and make them more efficient," said AMA President-elect Steven J. Stack, MD. "About 80 percent of physicians have already incorporated electronic health records (EHRs) into their practices, but they have faced significant barriers in participating in the Meaningful Use program and many are receiving penalties despite their investments in EHRs. We believe CMS' proposal offers common sense solutions that, if finalized quickly, will help more physicians use EHRs in a truly meaningful way while supporting patient engagement."

In a letter to CMS, the AMA also made recommendations that if adopted could further support successful participation in Meaningful Use. The suggestions include sensible quality measure reporting to reduce needless burdens on physicians, a reporting period after 2015 that is less than 365 days to account for a number of unforeseen circumstances that could jeopardize successful participation and removing the pass-fail structure so that good faith efforts are not penalized.

CMS' new proposed rule was published on April 15 and includes a number of improvements such as:

  • A shortened reporting period in 2015 of 90 days;
  • Streamlining objectives and removing the core vs. menu structure, which created confusion for both physicians and vendors; and
  • Easing the requirement that 5 percent of a physicians' patients view, download or transmit their information through a physician's patient portal while still retaining full access for patients who want electronic access.

"The new rule maintains that physicians must make patient portals and secure messaging available to patients and we encourage our patients to use them so they can be empowered and engaged in their health care," said Dr. Stack. "However, we must acknowledge that different patients have different circumstances and different needs for their medical information. Reducing the threshold for this specific type of activity allows for patients to make their own choices based on their individual situations." 

The AMA has tips on its website for how to successfully engage patients on the use of their patient portal. We are planning to continue to offer tools, further engage with patient groups and provide support to physicians to improve education around digital access to patient information. 

Additionally, we are working with vendors to improve the usability of EHRs and patient portals so they are easier to navigate and patients and physicians can find all of the information they need in one place. The AMA developed a framework to improve usability that calls for vendors to create systems that are high-performing, safe, secure and interoperable so physicians can deliver the best care possible. Having access to cutting edge digital health tools will be critical as we transition to more outcomes-based models of care.

Our collaboration with the administration, policymakers, vendors, patient groups and other stakeholders to improve the Meaningful Use program is part of our efforts to shape a better health care system for all Americans. We are committed to supporting policies at every level of government that improve patient health, enhance access to affordable, quality care and that protect the privacy and trusted interactions patients have with physicians.


Media Contact:
Randi Kahn
AMA Media & Editorial
(202) 789-7442

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