AOA continues fight to improve meaningful use in 2015

January 16, 2015
Changes sought through legislative, regulatory avenues.

Physicians want to use EHRs for practical purposes.

AOA in 2015 will continue to fight to improve meaningful use requirements and ease the burden on doctors of optometry.

The goal is to push for reasonable changes that would allow doctors of optometry to use electronic health records (EHRs) in practical ways that would benefit their patients.

AOA plans to advocate for improved changes on several fronts.

  1. Supporting legislation

    The AOA supports legislation on Capitol Hill that would provide statutory relief from current meaningful use regulations. As an example, a bipartisan bill, H.R. 270, just reintroduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and other cosponsors would shorten the 2015 MU reporting period to one quarter of the year (instead of the full year).

  2. Reducing the burden of future MU requirements

    The AOA has repeatedly informed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of the challenges of Stage 1 and Stage 2 standards, and that they should be relaxed.

    Doctors of optometry want to use their EHRs in ways that benefit patients, such as exchanging information with peers who may be treating a patient of theirs. AOA believes the goal of meaningful use should be to stick closely to the functions doctors want.

    Instead, regulators have asked doctors to perform multiple untested functions that previously had never been combined in a single product. As an example, very few EHRs had a patient portal before meaningful use, but they're now a requirement under Stage 2.

    This winter, CMS will propose new standards for Stage 3. The agency has promised changes that would better streamline the program and "reduce confusion stemming from multiple stage requirements." However, based on the precedent set by the two previous stages of MU, the AOA is concerned Stage 3 will be even more difficult to implement, despite CMS's claims.

    AOA plans to carefully review the proposed Stage 3 requirements and provide feedback to CMS just as it did for previous stages of the program.

  3. Working with CMS officials

    The AOA will continue to work with officials to provide more flexibility in current Stage 1 and Stage 2 requirements—and to provide relief from audits that presume all practitioners fail to meet MU requirements until proven otherwise. Some of these audits might question whether a doctor faced actual challenges in upgrading to certified EHR technology, for example.

    The hope is the AOA can advocate for changes with CMS officials this year to relax especially burdensome meaningful use requirements.

To learn more about AOA advocacy to improve meaningful use, email Kara Webb, AOA associate director for coding and regulatory policy.

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