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AMA Pleased With Improvements to EHR Meaningful Use Requirements, But Challenges Remain to Widespread Adoption

For immediate release
July 21, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – After careful review of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule on meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs), the American Medical Association (AMA) today says that improvements have been made, but barriers to adoption and implementation remain.

“The final requirements for the meaningful use of EHRs are an improvement over previous drafts, but challenges still remain that will make it difficult for physicians to meet the requirements – especially physicians in solo and small practices,” said Steven J. Stack, MD, American Medical Association Board Member.

Strong AMA advocacy for physicians resulted in important improvements to the final rule, including the following:

  • Better flexibility for physicians to pick and choose the meaningful use criteria that best fits their practice.
  • Removal of measures that are not directly related to an EHR, such as checking patient eligibility for care and submitting insurance claims electronically.
  • Limiting the number of clinical quality measures physicians need to report.

Despite CMS’ attempt to simplify the meaningful use requirements, challenges remain. Among the concerns are questions about product availability, the tight timeline for adoption and the high overall number of measures physicians are required to meet. While the volume of measures was reduced overall, the final rule requires physicians to meet 20 measures in the first year which is still too high, especially for smaller practices that are new to the technology.

Currently there is no EHR in the market that does all the things required for physicians to successfully meet meaningful use criteria. CMS expects EHR systems that support meaningful use to become available this fall, giving physicians just a few months to purchase, implement and assess the usability of EHR technology before the January 1, 2011 start date of the incentive program. This is no small feat, considering it can take a year or more to purchase and implement an EHR system.

To help physicians better understand the meaningful use requirements and how to incorporate them into their practice, the AMA will be hosting a free webinar for physicians in August.

“The AMA is committed to EHR adoption that streamlines the clinical and business functions of a physician office and helps physicians provide the highest quality care to patients,” said Dr. Stack.  “We will continue working to address barriers to implementation so physicians can smoothly and successfully adopt new technology.”

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Media Contact:

Lisa Lecas
American Medical Association

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