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

Monday, Feb. 24, 2014

Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6052

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 American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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