Senate Panel Promotes Delay of Stage 3 Meaningful Use Rules, Physicians Agree

The Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee is asking to delay Stage 3 meaningful use rules. The Committee’s chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been meeting regularly to advocate their policy suggestions and draft regulations to be implemented by HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.

Stage 3 meaningful use rules would require providers to send electronic summaries for 50% of patients they refer to other providers, receive summaries for 40% of patients that are referred to them and reconcile past patient data with current reports for 80% of those patients. The purpose of Stage 3 is to prevent “information blocking” since there is substantial evidence that some organizations are intentionally setting up barriers to access information. However, compliance is almost impossible since providers must depend on other providers to fulfill Stage 3 requirements. This is a very likely scenario as only 25% of physicians say they are compliant with Stage 2 requirements.   

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently hosted a town hall where physicians expressed their dissatisfaction with EHRs and Stage 3 meaningful use. Criticism of any substantial new regulations is common and many believe “information blocking” is being handled with the shift from a fee-for service to a value-based purchasing system, which disincentives the hoarding of patient information. While 80% of physicians use EHRs, use of the technology often reduces their efficiency, diminishes their effectiveness and in actual fact gets between them and their patients. Many physicians expressed EHR concerns and are doubtful that Stage 3 will help their situation since the healthcare industry is still trying to comply with so many other federal rules.

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Alison Killian is a recent graduate of Grove City College who majored in Business Management and minored in Biology Studies. She is a contributor to Medical Groups and passionate about all facets of healthcare. She plans on continuing work in the healthcare field especially in management. She is very interested in healthcare innovation and finding ways to improve the current system. She hopes to go back to school in a few years to earn a degree in medicine.