Although it will probably be several weeks before it issues its formal comments about the 556-pages of proposed “meaningful use” rules that the CMS released Dec. 30, 2009, the 94,700-member American Academy of Family Physicians announced that it “supports the goals” behind the proposed regulations, but said the regulations—as proposed—impose hurdles that will challenge small- and mid-sized practices' ability to qualify for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's health IT subsidies.
“The goals and intent of the regulations, we're very supportive of, and they align with what we've been pushing for over the past decade,” said Steven Waldren, director of the AAFP's Center for Health IT.
A chief concern is that collecting and reporting performance data could become an administrative burden, Waldren said. He said that his recommendation for the final rules would be to “focus on meaningful use and not reporting on the meaningful use.”
Physicians who meet the requirements could receive $44,000 to help pay for their purchase of an electronic health record system, and Waldren said AAFP members have been asking him the basic question: “Will it be worth it?”
“They should not implement health IT to get the $44,000,” Waldren said, they should do it to improve quality and efficiency and to move toward transforming their practices into a patient-centered medical home. “And, if you do that, you'll get $44,000. I don't think there's anything in there that physicians shouldn't be doing or striving for.”
He said the AAFP wants the incentive program—which is expected to pay out between $14.1 billion and $27.3 billion in subsidies—to succeed.
Waldren added that the AAFP is specifically encouraged by the proposed regulations' focus on care coordination, quality and patient-centered care, and he also said the AAFP supports the rules' promotion of using electronic prescribing; clinical decision support; analysis and reporting of evidence-based measures of quality and performance; and the sharing of health information and educational resources with patients.