We’ve Come a Long Way with Health Information Technology, But Next Phase Will Be Difficult
February 20, 2014 | By: Martin Ciccocioppo
During April 2004, President Bush signed an executive order
creating the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information
Technology (ONC) and set a goal that: “Within ten years, every American must
have a personal electronic medical record.”
While it wasn’t called the “triple
aim” at that time, the overall objective was the same:
- Use modern technologies to
improve the care provided to each patient
- Use standardized
electronic data to improve the process of care
- Reduce the cost to our
health care system
We’ve come a long way since then.
Three years after Stage 1
meaningful use became official during 2011, providers have received more than
$19 billion in incentive payments:
- Nearly 9 out of 10
eligible hospitals have made a financial commitment to an electronic
health record (EHR)
- Nearly 3 out of 5 Medicare
and Medicaid eligible professionals have made a financial commitment to an
- Over 340,000 Medicare and
Medicaid eligible professionals have
received an EHR incentive payment
These statistics demonstrate that Stage 1 of meaningful use
can be achieved over time. However, even with significant financial incentives
during the early years of the programs, many providers could not, or chose not
to, meet Stage 1 requirements.
When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
and ONC defined Stage 2 meaningful use during September 2012, they changed
nearly all of the meaningful use objectives and standards, rewrote some Stage 1
requirements, and required all providers to implement 2014 Certified
Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) during 2014.
Several issues threaten the ability of providers to continue
as meaningful users:
- Limited availability of
2014 certified EHRs
- Delays in certified
- The burden of meeting new
If providers fail to achieve or maintain meaningful use
during 2014, they will lose EHR Incentive Program payments and will be subject
to Medicare payment penalties during 2016.
In order to maintain momentum towards greater use of EHRs,
we recommend that all hospitals and physicians have the option to make the
transition to the 2014 Edition Certified EHR and the Stage 2 requirements (or
revised Stage 1 requirements) over the course of 2014 or 2015.
We have made monumental advances in:
- Electronic capture of
structured health data
- Tracking key clinical
- Care coordination
- Reporting for clinical
quality and public health information
Stage 2 meaningful use and standards for 2014 certified EHRs
have set a path for leveraging this wealth of electronic clinical data to
support advanced clinical processes of care.
Unfortunately, the federal
government is threatening our ability to move health care forward by forcing
the entire industry through a narrow path at the exact same time.
As we approach the tenth anniversary of President Bush’s
call to action, we can be proud that most Americans now see providers who use
electronic health records.
However, the health care industry and EHR vendors
need more time to allow pioneers to venture forward, clear obstacles, and widen
the path so that, eventually, all providers can move further ahead with:
- Empowered patients.