Feature | November 01, 2012

HIMSS Opposes Congress’ Call for Suspension of EHR Incentive Program

Healthcare IT group cites rapid advances in adoption spurred by incentives, acknowledges need for more interoperability

HIMMS Electronic Medical Records Information Technology

November 1, 2012 — HIMSS opposes the Oct. 4 call from four House Republican leaders for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “immediately suspend the distribution of incentive payments until [the department] promulgates universal interoperable standards.” HIMSS emphasizes the significant progress that has been made towards the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and exchange of health information since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) EHR Incentive program began in 2011.

The House Republican leaders’ letter asks HHS to take additional steps to “advance interoperability and meaningful use” of health information technology (IT). HIMSS notes that the Stage 2 final rule, published by the department on Sept. 4, moves the nation definitively towards interoperability.   

While there is still much work to be done, HIMSS observes that adoption of secure, interoperable health IT systems continues to grow, in part due to the mandate of the HITECH provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Recently released CMS data show that more than 2,700 eligible hospitals and 73,000 eligible professionals have attested to meaningful use Stage 1 requirements since the incentive program began in 2011. And since the first incentive payments were made in May 2011, HIMSS Analytics data reports a steady increase in eligible hospitals achieving higher scores on the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM). The group said these are clear indicators that government incentives are working.

HIMSS supports the concept of graduated complexity of meaningful use; this stepped approach recognizes evolutionary maturity of adoption and implementation of health IT — all of which serves as the foundation for healthcare transformation. Significant progress has been made; widespread interoperability is within reach.

As it moves toward meaningful use Stage 2 — which requires greater levels of interoperability between care providers — HIMSS honors its pledge to equip all care providers with the tools and education needed to transform healthcare. HIMSS looks forward to its ongoing work with Congress, the administration, federal agencies and its members to ensure that the EHR Incentive Program and all other federal and private quality initiatives impactfully improve the quality, safety, cost-effectiveness and access to care for the benefit of patients and the nation.

For more information: www.himss.org

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