Delegates to the American Medical Association's House of Delegates interim meeting, starting Nov. 7 in Houston, will hear a pair of information technology-related policy resolutions. One is on the “fair use” of personal health records and the other is on providing aid to physicians to relieve their “increased financial distress” in the transition to the ICD-10 clinical coding system.
A resolution from the Michigan delegation takes note of the rise of personal health records with the entrance into that market of technology giants Microsoft and Google, joining existing PHR players like WebMD. Such consumer-directed systems, according to the resolution “are useful in treating patients by a variety of physicians” but also “generate several issues such as privacy and the use of health data by third parties,” and that individuals who decide to use PHRs “may not be aware of the full implications of such databases.”
The resolution calls on the AMA to formulate guidelines for PHRs and “use these guidelines to lobby Congress to enact legislation for fair usage of personal health records.”
Delegates from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont joined in drafting a resolution that points out the CMS has set an Oct. 10, 2013 deadline for use of the ICD-10 code set, increasing the number of diagnosis and procedure codes physicians must use to more than 155,000 codes from about 16,000 under the current ICD-9 system. The cost of transition to ICD-10 for a three-physician practice has been estimated at $84,000, the resolution said, citing several studies.
On top of the ICD-10 conversion, physicians are being asked by Congress to adopt and “meaningfully use” electronic health record systems by 2015 under threat of Medicare reimbursement penalties. Because of this double whammy, “Physicians are under increased financial stress and will receive no reimbursement for the expenses of the upgrade,” the resolution said. The New England delegates are there for asking the AMA to “develop systems to help physicians transition to the ICD-10 coding system.” The type of assistance was unspecified by the resolution.
The interim meeting is scheduled to run through Nov. 10.