Proposed patient access change sparks MU debate

Proposed patient access change sparks MU debate

Abolishing v/d/t threshold could help providers, but patient engagement proponents cry foul

One of the more troublesome measures of Stage 2 meaningful use has been the requirement that providers get at least five percent of their patients to view, download or transmit their digitized health information.

The biggest knock against it has been that, like similar outward-facing measures of Stage 2, it left too much out of health organizations’ hands. As Robert Wachter, MD, puts it in his new book, The Digital Doctor: Hype, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, some of the early challenges related to the rule had to do with the fact that, to work, it “depended on a clinical ecosystem and healthcare culture that did not yet exist.

“To comply with (view/download/transmit), not only did the vendors need to reengineer their patient portals and the hospitals and clinics revamp their workflows, but providers now became responsible for ensuring that their patients were doing something with their newly downloaded data,” Wachter wrote.

But many patients either weren’t aware of, weren’t interested in, or didn’t have the means to access their portals.

“Stuck in this electronic Catch-22, some hospitals are going to fantastic (in both senses of the word) lengths to meet the meaningful use requirements.” Indeed, we’ve reported on some of them here.

Late in the afternoon on Friday, April 10, as many in the healthcare IT industry were packing their bags to head to Chicago for the 2015 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a proposed rule that, among other changes, would relax that 5 percent v/d/t requirement in a big way – instead requiring only that a single patient access his or her data, to merely show that the capacity for digital engagement exists.
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