From those comments, it's clear that healthcare providers would like it to be easier to comply with basic meaningful use requirements, and they would also like greater clarity on the rules, said Tony Trenkle, director of CMS's Office of e-Health Standards and Services at the Health IT Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday in Washington.
The meaningful use rules will determine whether a healthcare provider qualifies for the more than $20 billion in stimulus funds the federal government plans to start paying out next year to reimburse them for investments in electronic medical record and other health IT systems.
Many of those commenting expressed called for greater flexibility in qualifying for incentive monies, including allowing stimulus reimbursements for organizations that meet only a percentage of the requirements and scaling incentive payments for providers that meet some measures, which CMS can't do, Trenkle says. They also asked reductions in the number of clinical quality measures providers have to comply with as well as the thresholds for compliance
Commenters asked that healthcare providers not have to report the total number of orders for medication, lab work, imaging scans, and other tests. They also raised concerns about the non-clinical, administrative measures being required and overly aggressive requirements for computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems. Some commenters noted that stages two and three of the meaningful use rules haven't been laid out, making strategic planning difficult. Other concerns focused on:
Over the next few weeks, CMS will analyze the rest of the letters looking for common policy themes, Trenkle said. Ones that require major policy decisions, get floated up through the ranks, he said. From there, the organization will create policy papers and have them reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Management and Budget, and the administration, if necessary.
CMS will come back to the HIT Committee in April with a more comprehensive report on the comments. A final rule is expected in late spring.
Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at [email protected]
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