The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which represents more than 110,600 family physicians and medical students nationwide and its Center for Health Information Technology recently made an appeal to CMS “not to delay the implementation of MU Stage 2 but to extend the timeframe for compliance with MU Stage 2 requirements by 12 months.”
In the letter sent on August 7th to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, MS, AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I. said,
“We are increasingly concerned that the regulatory expectations of MU Stage 2 and its current timeframe will outstrip the capacity of many certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) vendors and ambulatory family medicine practices. We agree conceptually with a staged approach to enhanced care safety, quality, coordination, patient engagement, and population health through the effective implementation and use of health information technology (IT). However, 2014 brings a perfect storm of regulatory compliance issues for family physicians that, we fear, may derail health IT adoption and substantially interfere with our shared progress toward achieving better care for patients, better health for communities, and lower costs through improvements to the health care system.
AAFP’s main concern is that members will fail to obtain the products, implementations, services, training and support required to successfully meet Meaningful Use stage 2 deadlines set by CMS and the ONC.
“Though we do not wish to impede the progress of early adopter physicians poised for MU stage two on Jan. 1, 2014, we do not wish to see other family physicians who have committed to health care transformation through the thoughtful application of health IT abandon the MU journey due to factors beyond their control,” said Stream.
Also in the letter, Stream outlines an AAFP proposal that would advance the priorities of meaningful use while at the same time maintaining the current momentum of health care transformation.
The four-color proposal illustration shows how AAFP’s Meaningful Use stage 2 extension proposal would meter 2014 CEHRT upgrade demand while simultaneously maintaining the current momentum of healthcare transformation.
The proposed timeline change would create three distinct cohorts of physicians and other eligible professionals, each of which would be affected differently by the modified schedule. In his letter, Stream outlined the requirements for each of the three groups:
- cohort one would include physicians who attest to MU in 2014 as their first payment year and who then would follow a specific timeline for MU reporting to receive a bonus payment;
- cohort two would include physicians attesting to MU in 2014 as their second payment year, and they would follow a separate set of EHR upgrade and reporting period guidelines to receive a 2015 bonus payment; and
- cohort three would include physicians attesting to MU in 2014 as their third or fourth payment year. This group also would have to comply with specific EHR upgrade and reporting period guidelines, and qualifying physicians would receive both their 2014 and 2015 MU bonus payments.
According to Stream, “this modified timeline would allow exemplar practices to implement MU stage two requirements early in 2014.”
“Pressure would be kept on vendors to be ready for MU stage two by Jan. 1, 2014, while distributing the strain of conversion of vendor product and physician workflow over a 21-month period rather than a nine-month period,” said Stream.