This week, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared its strong support for new legislation responding to the depths of doctors’ dissatisfaction with the federal government’s Meaningful Use program. The bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers from North Carolina would address many problems in the Meaningful Use Program by introducing needed flexibility and enhancing EHR to improve patient care and access to health information.
The Meaningful Use program has spurred 80 percent of physicians to implement EHRs in their practices, but the AMA has long held that the program’s ambitious timetable and prescriptive approach has produced undesired consequences that have directly hindered the ability of EHR technology to perform as an effective clinical tool for patients and physicians.
“The AMA thanks Rep. Ellmers for sharing our deep concern with a Meaningful Use program that continues to move ahead without first fixing barriers faced by physicians, hospitals, vendors and patients,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D. “Under Rep. Ellmers’ leadership, federal regulations would be revised to provide greater flexibility for physicians to meet the Meaningful Use requirements and ensure that Stage 3 of the program is developed in step with other efforts to modernize our nation’s health care system.”
The bill also addresses key interoperability challenges by ensuring EHR systems are capable of sending, receiving, and seamlessly incorporating patient data.
“This important bill addresses many of the fundamental shortcomings in government regulations that have made many EHR systems very difficult to use,” said Dr. Stack. “We heard loud and clear from physicians at the AMA’s first-ever town hall meeting on EHRs and the Meaningful Use program that the systems they use are cumbersome, poorly designed and unable to ‘talk’ to each other thereby preventing necessary transmission of patient medical information.”
The town hall meeting held on July 20 in Atlanta with the Medical Association of Georgia echoed physician frustration from a prominent study conducted by AMA and RAND that found most EHR systems fail to support efficient and effective clinical work and are the leading cause of physician dissatisfaction, emotional fatigue, depersonalization and lost enthusiasm.
The AMA wants to make sure physician voices are widely heard on this critical issue.