Coalition urges revamp of electronic health record program

A coalition of healthcare groups urged the Obama administration to revamp a program designed to spur the use of electronic medical records after federal health officials announced a series of delays. 

Health IT Now said the new timetable offers the administration a chance to review the program's requirements and make changes to ease the burden of implementation.

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"Providers will increasingly pressure the administration to further delay and weaken standards patients want and need to engage their own health and wellness," said Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White in a statement.

The group noted that delays do "little for patients who expect use of health information technology to improve their care outcomes, reduce medical errors and bolster quality."

The "Meaningful Use" program launched in 2011 with the intention of encouraging doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT.

Provider groups scored a victory Tuesday when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said they would slow down the initiative.

The most notable change would mean that healthcare providers can use electronic health records software that was previously disqualified and still receive incentive payments this year.

If finalized, the shift would prevent penalties from hitting doctors and hospitals that fail to move into stage 2 of meaningful use on time, even if they do not apply for a special exception.

The regulation would also extend stage 2 through 2016, a move that federal health officials had already promised to make.