American Academy of Family Physicians Calls on Health and Human Services to Delay Stage 2 Certified Electronic Health Record Technology Requirement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Monday, Feb. 24, 2014

Contact:
Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5223
mmoriarty@aafp.org

LEAWOOD, Kan. — The American Academy of Family Physicians and other physician and hospital organizations are calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to extend the implementation date for Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program.

Initially scheduled to be put into place in 2014, the Stage 2 requirements would create an onerous burden on current EHR users that would discourage the continued use of EHRs and could jeopardize patient safety. If no action is taken, more than 5,000 hospitals and 550,000 physicians and other eligible professionals must adopt the 2014 edition of the Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) standards and meet a higher threshold of meaningful use criteria over the next seven months. Unfortunately, only a fraction of the EHR products certified to the previous 2011 edition requirements would pass muster under the 2014 edition.

“EHR vendors have not been able to keep up with the pace of change necessary for the jump to Stage 2,” said Reid Blackwelder, MD, president of the AAFP. “Forcing the implementation of Stage 2 in 2014 would hinder the progress so many of our members have made in adopting EHRs.”

If the 2014 date is not altered, Blackwelder said, there is growing concern that some practices may rush to implement the required changes, disrupting patient care.

“Our members’ top priority is providing the best, safest care possible,” Blackwelder said. “Forcing these changes through without giving clinicians adequate time to learn the new systems could pose a risk to patient safety.”

For these reasons, the AAFP has strongly recommended to HHS that it:

  1. Extend the timelines providers have to implement 2014 Edition Certified EHR software and meet the program requirements (Stages 1 and 2) through 2015;
  2. Add flexibility in meaningful use requirements to permit as many providers as possible to achieve success in the program.

The AAFP is one of nearly 50 medical societies to have signed a letter to Sec. Sebelius last week requesting these changes. The AAFP also voice concerns about meaningful use Stage 2 requirements in August 2013.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 115,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 214 million office visits each year — nearly 74 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.


To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).