AMA, others call for change in EHR interoperability measures

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The American Medical Association (AMA) and 36 specialty medical associations recently sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of Health Information Technology (ONC) to urge them to “rethink the way [they] measure the interoperability of electronic health records.”

The letter says that “[the groups believe that] the current direction will require physicians to spend too much time meeting measures that will do little to make electronic health records valuable to patients and medical practices.”

AMA says, “The comment letter is in response to a request for information on assessing interoperability under the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the bipartisan payment reform bill that became law last year.”

According to AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D., “The lack of interoperability is one of the major reasons why the promise of electronic health records has not been fulfilled. Vendors have been incentivized to meet the flawed benchmarks under the Meaningful Use program. We need to replace those benchmarks with ones that focus on better coordinated care. MACRA offers that opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it.”

The letter explains that “the vast majority of vendors offer products that simply exchange static documents, thus satisfying the minimum Meaningful Use requirements. Many in health care view this level of exchange as little more than digital faxing.”

Finally, it says that rather than using data exchange as the metric for measuring interoperability CMS should “focus on usefulness, timeliness, correctness and completeness of data, as well as the ease and cost of information access. That would benefit patients more than counting how many times voluminous documents are sent back and forth.”

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