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Tag: Stage 2 meaningful use

Enabling Patients to Be Part of Their Care

In May 2008, when the Roper poll asked a random sample of Americans “If your medical records and personal health information, such as test results and doctor’s instructions, were available to you online, how likely do you think you would be to access those records and information?” Sixty-five percent said they were somewhat, very, or extremely likely to access their records.  In the February 2009 stimulus bill, Congress asked the Health IT Policy Committee “to facilitate secure access by an individual to such individual’s protected health information” and “…  to facilitate secure access to patient information by a family member, caregiver, or guardian acting on behalf of a patient…”

CMS now proposes that in 2014, hospitals receiving the billions of dollars of Stage 2 federal EHR incentive payments must provide patients with electronic access to their hospital discharge information within 36 hours of leaving the hospital.  CMS is not only asking hospitals to give patients reasonable access to their own current and actionable health information, but it’s also trying to help patients and families address the wasteful and dangerous rates of hospital readmission and failures in continuity of care that haunt American healthcare.  But the American Hospital Association is arguing that “Establishing a web portal or other mechanism to provide patients online access to this magnitude of data is unrealistic and premature.”

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A Fork in the Road to Meaningful Use

The deadline for comments to Stage 2 is upon us and a clear fork has emerged for federal regulators. The cats and dogs here are institutional vs. patient engagement. The institutional fork has been taken by the American Hospital Association. The patient fork is exemplified by the National Partnership for Women and Families. The primary argument is over patient access to their own information. The draft regulation suggests a 36 hour (or 4 days in other circumstances) delay. The AHA wants 30 days. Some patient advocates are seeking immediate and highly convenient access.

The fork in the road for federal regulators, with some $30 Billion dollars of incentives in hand, is whether to micromanage the institutions or to encourage patient-centered innovation. This choice is deeply entangled in the $Trillion realities of payment reform.

The micromanagement of institutions through increasingly complex regulations on EHR vendors, clerical and clinical staff seems like slow torture. We have institutions begging for relief. Large vendors are consolidating their lock-in business model as the barriers to entry into the health information market get higher and higher. Quality transparency is controversial and price transparency is almost unimaginable.

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