In Remaining HIT Priorities for 2015, Payers, Not Patients, Will Get the Love

Scott Mace, April 21, 2015

At this year's HIMSS conference, the patient engagement provision of Meaningful Use stage 2 was a major casualty. Is that a problem?

Another HIMSS conference has come and gone, and what do we know now that we didn't before?

Without even a hint of a new ICD-10 delay, I will go out on a limb and predict that the transition will occur as scheduled this October 1. Payers will love it. Providers will endure the pain and the vast majority will survive unscathed.


Russ Branzell
President and CEO of CHIME

Meaningful use stage 2 rules will be relaxed, as proposed in the CMS/ONC NPRM released just before HIMSS, to permit 90-day attestation in 2015, avoiding many payment penalties throughout healthcare. Providers will endure the pain of meeting the 90 days of compliance, and the vast majority will survive unscathed.

There has been a major casualty in HIT priorities, however. The patient engagement provision of MU stage 2 is being thrown under the bus by CMS and ONC, aided and abetted by providers.

You may recall that one provision of stage 2, as initially approved, was that providers demonstrate that 5% of their patients had viewed, downloaded, or transmitted some portion of their medical record. The provision was never popular with providers, but no one expected CMS and ONC to relax the requirement to a single patient. That's right—evidence of a single patient doing so will now be sufficient to attest for stage 2 through 2016, and if the provider chooses to, extended through 2017 as well, according to the new NPRM.

Patient advocates are livid, but CHIME CEO Russell Branzell says many patient records will remain inconsistent and incompletely downloaded while meaningful use is still a work in progress.

"I would love for [patient records] to be successful now," Branzell tells me. "With lack of patient matching, with lack of true data quality, some of what is occurring now is you're seeing data corruption and in some cases errors, because we haven't done some of the building blocks."

Thus the act of viewing, downloading, or transmitting a portion of the patient record, by itself, is often of little or no value, Branzell says. "Do I want [view, download, and transmit] now? I want it yesterday."

But what about patients with serious conditions who want to make sure that physicians down the line have the proverbial longitudinal record, which empowered patients or their caregivers strive to carry with them everywhere?

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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