The members of the House also asked that the criteria include the requirement that electronic health records systems used by providers in the program be tested and certified as capable of receiving patient information from mobile devices.
Other recommendations included broadening meaningful-use standards for data collection to facilitate identifying and tracking people with disparities, including information about disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity variables. The representatives also asked the CMS to require EHRs to incorporate health literacy and communication tools “for patients at a reading level no higher than the sixth to eighth grade,” and also make the information available to people with “visual, cognitive and communication impairments.”
The letter was co-signed by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a former nurse.
“As a healthcare provider, I've seen firsthand the devastating impact on families and communities when they don't get access to the kind of care they need and deserve,” Capps said in a news release. “We know that reducing healthcare costs and improving health outcomes depends on tackling the pervasive problem of health disparities. I hope the administration seizes this opportunity to help reduce current disparities and make a difference for millions of patients and families.”
The representatives, all Democrats, asked the administration, when developing Stage 3 criteria, to look at the Disparities Action Plan submitted last August to the Health Information Technology Policy Committee's meaningful-use workgroup. The plan was developed by the Consumer Partnership for eHealth, a coalition led by the not-for-profit National Partnership for Women and Families.
Hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals participating in the EHR incentive payment program, created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are currently working under either Stage 1 or Stage 2 criteria. Stage 3 criteria, now under development, may become effective in 2007.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn