CHIME and AMA show support for new Flex-IT 2 Act

Leading organizations back potential EHR Incentive Program revisions

The majority of health care providers have implemented or expressed plans to adopt electronic health records to streamline their daily workflows and cater to an evolving industry where patients are looking to be more in control of their health. However, many industry experts believe that the EHR Incentive Programs need to be revised to allow physicians to reap the full benefits from their EHR systems. 

Industry leaders work to make EHR Incentive Programs more flexible
According to FierceEMR, the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act (Flex-IT 2 Act) has recently been introduced as a way to make the EHR Incentive Programs easier to adhere to for providers. The act was established by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers and would revise the meaningful use requirements. 

Among its supporters are the American Medical Association and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. Both organizations expressed that their support of the act does not mean that they do not support the meaningful use requirements, as these regulations have the potential to be very effective. However, they do believe that reform is necessary.

Although many aspects of the EHR Incentive Programs benefit providers, factors like difficult deadlines can be improved. Many health professionals have explained that they are so caught up in trying to meet these deadlines that their efforts begin to interfere with their ability to provide high-quality patient care. The CHIME noted that the intent of the meaningful use standards is good, but the requirements simply need a little tweaking to work efficiently for providers. 

The Flex-IT 2 Act would ensure that revisions are made to the EHR Incentive Programs before the stage 3 meaningful use requirements are implemented. Ellmers explained that the likelihood that the new meaningful use standards will have a positive impact on the industry is small until some of the requirements are revised.

What exactly would the Flex-IT 2 Act do?
If the Flex-IT 2 Act is implemented, it would delay the start of the stage 3 meaningful use standards, as the regulations under stage 3 would undergo editing. Ellmers highlighted a few of the objectives that the standards would meet.

The bill will enhance EHR interoperability, work toward revising the yearly reporting period to 90 days, establish more room for a greater number of hardship exemptions, make the stage 3 requirements less repetitive and delay stage 3 until 2017 or until stage 2 meaningful use requirements are met by at least 75 percent of health care professionals.

Ellmers, a nurse, noted that she knows firsthand what it takes to put the safety and health of patients first. The bill is a big step in the right direction, as it ensures that providers and hospitals are sharing essential data. This allows them to establish a higher quality of care for patients. 

The CHIME announced in a public statement that officials throughout the organization believe the legislation is the perfect opportunity to improve the EHR Incentive Programs, which are vital to supporting an evolving health care industry. The AMA also agreed that the bill would greatly enhance interoperability throughout the sector.  

"This important bill addresses many of the fundamental shortcomings in government regulations that have made many EHR systems very difficult to use," AMA President Steven Stack, M.D., said in a statement. "We heard loud and clear from physicians at the AMA's first-ever town hall meeting on EHRs and the Meaningful Use program that the systems they use are cumbersome, poorly designed and unable to 'talk' to each other thereby preventing necessary transmission of patient medical information."

The act will improve the ability for providers to send, receive and incorporate patient data among EHRs. More organizations are expected to show their support for the bill.