Meaningful Use Stage 2: Doctors Need Help

 

One of the provisions of the proposed rule for Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) is the requirement that more than 50 percent of an eligible professional’s (EP) patients have the ability to view, download and transmit data, and more than 10 percent of those patients actually have to do so.  Many providers are up in arms because they can’t really force their patients to access their electronic records.  This would mean that they might not qualify for the stimulus if the patient won’t participate.

This rule is meant to encourage patient engagement.  Other requirements never had the patient in the equation as to something they had to do.  CMS said the following:

“We believe that requiring a measurement of patient use ensures that the EP will promote the availability and active use of electronic health information by the patient or their authorized representatives.”

There were not any allowances for different specialties in the proposed rule.  It’s easy to imagine that a chronically ill patient might be more likely to check his records than a healthy one.  Certainly a new parent might use this opportunity to see an infant’s medical records because they are nervous.

The new rule also prohibits the use of flash drives or CDs to meet the requirement.  And older patients might not have the technical skills to use a patient portal on the internet.

The Office of the National Coordinator might step in to clean up the rule so that it is more accommodating.  It might be a good idea to have an agency advertise the fact that this service is now available so the general public will be aware of their rights for access to their personal records.  The government should certainly give doctors some help if this MU provision sticks.

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