A coalition of 25 consumer groups and unions sent a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT urging officials to remain steadfast on proposed requirements for Stage 2 of the meaningful use incentive program, Health Data Management reports.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments (Goedert, Health Data Management, 2/28).
The letter states, "Robust advancement of meaningful use criteria is essential both to ensure a return on investment for taxpayers who are funding the incentives and to lay a firm foundation for meeting the broad goals of health care reform" (CMIO, 2/28).
Organizations that signed the letter include:
- Consumers Union;
- Families USA;
- National Partnership for Women & Families; and
- Service Employees International Union.
The coalition said that ONC should resist pressure from health care providers to scale back requirements (Health Data Management, 2/28).
The consumer groups and unions expressed support for several issues, including:
- Transitioning all "optional" criteria in Stage 1 to "required" criteria in Stage 2;
- Advancing key criteria that have an impact on quality and safety, such as electronic prescribing and medication reconciliation;
- Improving collection of advance directives (CMIO, 2/28); and
- Providing patients with online access to their health data, as well as secure messaging capabilities.
The groups also urged federal officials to increase health information exchange requirements in Stage 2.
The letter states, "If Stage 2 meaningful use is meant to focus on [health information exchange], then providers receiving incentive money should be well-beyond simply testing their ability to exchange information; they should be doing it on a regular basis, at least for a subset of their population" (Health Data Management, 2/28).
It adds, "Two-way exchange of information is critical to harnessing the full potential of health IT to deliver the kind of care patients want" (CMIO, 2/28).