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Physicians Question Health IT Stimulus Requirements

A physicians practice industry group expresses concern about electronic health record incentive programs.
With physicians' skepticism about upcoming meaningful use criteria, MGMA's letter to Blumenthal suggests several steps the federal government should take in the administration of the federal stimulus HIT program to help make the rewards program a success.

Among the MGMA recommendations is instituting a pilot program in late 2010 so that flaws or other weaknesses are identified before doctors formally attempt to demonstrate meaningful use in 2011.

"Institute a pilot -- Once the final [meaningful rule] is published [at end of 2009,] and well before to the 2011 program start date, we believe that the government should conduct a pilot with a small number of vendors and in a variety of physician practice settings to ensure that the process of demonstrating meaningful use is achievable and practical," the MGMA letter states.

"This pilot could assist in determining potential roadblocks to program success and identify solutions to those roadblocks."

Also, MGMA is urging the federal government to notify doctors when there are problems with meaningful use quality reporting.

"Ensure timely responses from CMS to physicians once data are submitted in support of their meaningful use reporting requirements," said the letter.

"The government must be ready to accept meaningful use data in late 2010 in order for physicians to send test data, receive feedback from an appropriate government agency and still have sufficient time to take the appropriate action to modify their system should they encounter data content or reporting problems."

So far, MGMA has not received a reply to its letter from Blumenthal's office. However, MGMA will submit its recommendations as part of the public comment process when the meaningful use definition is released by the federal government in December, Tennant said.