Following CMS' recent release of proposed stage two meaningful use requirements that will govern the next stage of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, the AAFP is encouraging members to join in the discussion on the regulations.
The proposed regulations are a joint effort by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. They were published in the March 7 Federal Register(www.gpo.gov).
Jason Mitchell, M.D., assistant director of the Academy's Center for Health IT, confirmed that the Academy is reviewing the 132-page proposal and will provide comments within the 60-day comment period. However, he noted that the Center for Health IT also is eager to engage AAFP members in discussions on their thoughts and concerns about the proposed regulations via AAFP Connection, the Academy's social media website for members. "It's critical that we understand members' concerns," Mitchell said.
The EHR Community is one of the five communities currently active on AAFP Connection. The community is open to all AAFP members interested in EHRs, health information technology and communication technologies, so it is an ideal place for members to engage in a discussion about the stage two meaningful use regulations.
- CMS recently released proposed regulations for stage two of meaningful use requirements for electronic health records.
- The Academy invites members to discuss the proposed regulations and relay their concerns via the AAFP's social networking site AAFP Connection.
- The Academy will take member feedback into consideration as it crafts comments directed to CMS regarding the proposal.
The community currently has more than 300 members, but there is no limit to the number of participants who can start and respond to discussion threads, pose questions, and post files, including letters, policies, procedures and templates that could be helpful to physician colleagues.
"We'd like input from family physicians as we develop comments about these proposed federal regulations," said Mitchell. "I encourage members to begin that conversation online today, because their feedback will help us craft a meaningful response to CMS."
Regarding the content of the proposed regulations, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a CMS press release(www.cms.gov) that broader adoption of EHRs could save money, time and lives.
"We have seen great success and momentum as we've taken the first steps toward adoption of this critical technology," said Sebelius. "As we move into the next stage, we are encouraging even more providers to participate and support more coordinated patient-centered care."
Provisions in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act -- part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- call for incentive payments to be made available to health care professionals and hospitals that implement certified EHRs and use the technology in a meaningful way.
Stage 1 of meaningful use began in 2011, and according to the proposed rule, Stage 2 would be implemented in 2014.
The proposal calls for several new standards, such as patients' being granted online access to their health information and the electronic exchange of health information between physicians and other health care professionals. According to CMS, more than 43,000 health care professionals have collected more than $3 billion in meaningful use incentive payments, thus far.
Family physicians also can submit their individual comments to CMS. The easiest methods of relaying comments to CMS are via online submissions(www.regulations.gov) (follow the "How do I submit a Comment" instructions) or by mail addressed to CMS, Department of HHS, Attention: CMS-0044-P, P.O. Box 8013, Baltimore, MD, 21244-8013.
All comments must be received at CMS by 5 p.m. May 7.