“Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) released a proposed regulation giving hospitals, doctors and vendors more time to upgrade their electronic health records to the national standards released in September 2012 for use this year. While this proposed delay gives some parties time they need to overcome difficulties, it also means patients will have to wait longer for better access to health information, better care and better health, which they deserved and expected this year.
We recognize that the work is not simple or easy but at the same time, it is disappointing that, once again, patients and families will have to wait to realize many of the benefits of health IT.
Delays in implementing advanced functionalities in electronic health record (EHR) systems mean delays in improving the quality of care and health outcomes. We believe this additional time should be used to strengthen the Meaningful Use Program and ensure that it is designed and implemented in ways that meet the needs of patients and families across the nation and improve their health care experience. And we should ensure that there are no recurrences of these difficulties and delays.
As we said last December, the delay also gives all parties additional time to implement Stage 2 effectively and to develop all the critical criteria and standards pending in Stage 3 for better outcomes. For example, CMS should use the additional time associated with Stage 3 to revisit the recently withdrawn requirements to send patient reminders for preventive or follow-up care. Patients and families need Stage 3 criteria and electronic tools to ensure their access and participation in care planning and coordination. There should be substantial improvement in Stage 3 criteria to reduce health disparities across the United States, including full access in languages other than English for the one-fifth of the nation that speaks a language other than English at home.
We remain grateful for the resources lawmakers invested in implementing health IT, and determined to see that taxpayers and families realize the full benefits of that investment. On behalf of patients and families, the National Partnership will be monitoring this new implementation timeline closely. We hope to work with ONC and CMS to realize the health IT benefits that patients and families need and expect.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.