Do Meaningful Use Requirements Need the 5% Objective Back? | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Ever since the proposed modifications to Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements were announced, a wide variety of opinions and objections surfaced throughout the healthcare industry. For instance, patient engagement advocates are calling for a Data Independence Day. Other medical societies are sending forward their comments about both the proposed Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements as well as the potential modifications to Stage 2.

HIMSS is one organization that supports some aspects that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is pushing forward in the latest proposals for Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. For instance, reducing redundant reporting is very beneficial for the healthcare industry, according to a letter HIMSS representatives sent forward to CMS.

For example, HIMSS is supportive of the new 2015 Stage 2 Meaningful Use change to a 90-day reporting period. However, HIMSS is also looking to encourage CMS to develop a phased-in approach to meeting the Patient Electronic Access objectives under meaningful use requirements.

“HIMSS recommends a balanced approach for meeting this objective that recognizes the challenges that some providers are encountering as they try to get their patient population more engaged on viewing, downloading, or transmitting their information to a third party,” the letter stated. “As a part of this approach, given the tight timeline between the publication of this Final Rule and the end of calendar year 2015, CMS could leave the proposed measures in place for 2015, and then phase-in increased threshold requirements for 2016 and 2017, increasing each 1%, 2% to 3% per year to propel the field forward... Overall, HIMSS believes a phased-in approach for the patient electronic access objective to be an appropriate and balanced step forward.”

The Consumer Partnership for eHealth (CPeH), the Consumer-Purchaser Alliance (C-P Alliance), and other organizations sent a letter to CMS expressing their concern over a specific modification on patient engagement objectives under Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements. Now that CMS intends to only have one patient view, download, and transmit their information under Stage 2 Meaningful Use, many organizations are pushing for bringing back the prior 5 percent requirement.

“CPeH, C-P Alliance, and the undersigned organizations and individuals are dismayed that CMS intends no longer to require that five percent of patients1 view, download or transmit their health information or send a secure message to their providers,” The letter from the Consumer Partnership for eHealth states. “Instead, CMS proposes that doctors and hospitals merely show that just one patient used online access to their health information, and that secure messaging was merely turned on, not whether any patient has actually used it. We are deeply disappointed in CMS’s reversal of these essential commitments to patient and family engagement.”

Healthcare providers should be able to meet the 5 percent requirement and better engage patients with their medical information, according to the letter. Additionally, prior analysis shows that this should be achievable, which is why the new CMS modification is causing such an uproar in the medical community. Research shows that more than half of patients want to be able to email their healthcare provider, which is why the secure messaging aspect of a patient portal should increase patient engagement if properly leveraged. CMS would be wise to take these comments under advisement as they continue to develop meaningful use requirements.