It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The following summary of the proposed regulations for Stage 2 meaningful use and certification says it all—literally and figuratively!
Thanks goes to the Advisory Board Company for reviewing the proposed rules and “simplifying” the requirements for public consumption. (Of course, this poster can be blown up and printed in a readable size . . . if you have 24 square feet of wall space available!) You will see that the requirements for Stage 2 are even more numerous and complex than those for Stage 1. Don’t be fooled by the fact that providers would still have to meet only the same number of measures (20)—many of these measures now have multiple components and subcomponents that incorporate additional requirements that used to be counted as measures in their own right.
Why does meaningful use have to be so complicated and over-specified? How did we go from the original intent of the HITECH Act—encourage EHR adoption to facilitate the three goals of ePrescribing, reporting on quality measures, and exchanging clinical information—to the over-engineered chart above? We have surely lost sight of the forest for the trees.
Physicians cannot be expected to understand the requirements of a program that is so complex that it takes 455 pages to explain. The government is inviting their input on the proposed regulations, but how can busy physicians be expected to comment on a rule that they cannot possibly even have time to read?
I am not denying that the program is the product of a lot of time and hard work on the part of many very smart people who represent the interests of the multitude of stakeholders in the healthcare industry. However, the explosion of requirements is going to frustrate providers and ultimately undermine the success of the entire program, and this is particularly true given the large number of IT-related programs that physicians must comply with now and in the next few years. We have created an administrative nightmare for physicians, and spawned an industry of consultants who are paid by physicians to interpret meaningful use and other complicated incentive programs.
Physicians want to do the right thing—provide better care, improve outcomes, and reduce costs. But they can be pushed only so far before they justifiably start to push back. On March 28, the AMA sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, signed by 61 professional associations and all 51 state medical societies, that describes the situation as an “imminent storm” creating an “extraordinary financial and administrative burden as well as mass confusion for physicians.”
It’s time to speak up. Submit your comments on the proposed Stage 2 meaningful use rule.