The Impact of the FLEX-IT Act

This past week we saw some significant controversy regarding the Meaningful Use Stage 2 Final Rule which was published late August of 2014.  The controversy lies within the reporting period. The final rule requires a full 365 days of reporting.  Many professional organizations feel that this is to arduous.  Earlier this week Congeresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) introduced The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting  (Flex-IT) Act of 2014.  She states:

 

“Health Care providers have faced enormous obstacles while working to meet numerous federal requirements over the past decade. Obamacare has caused many serious problems throughout this industry, yet there are other requirements hampering the industry’s ability to function while threatening their ability to provide excellent, focused care.”

“The Meaningful Use Program has many important provisions that seek to usher our health care providers into the digital age. But instead of working with doctors and hospitals, HHS is imposing rigid mandates that will cause unbearable financial burdens on the men and women who provide care to millions of Americans. Dealing with these inflexible mandates is causing doctors, nurses, and their staff to focus more on avoiding financial penalties and less on their patients.”

“The Flex-IT Act will provide the flexibility providers need while ensuring that the goal of upgrading their technologies is still being managed. I’m excited to introduce this important bill and look forward to it quickly moving on to a vote.”

 

While I applaud Congresswoman Ellmers I personally don’t feel this is the time to ease the pressure of the transformation of healthcare.  As she states only 9 percent of our nation’s hospitals and 1 percent eligible healthcare professionals have demonstrated the ability to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.  While I certainly don’t argue the statistics around this issue and agree that the Meaningful Use Stage 2 measures are much more difficult to tackle but most facilities both EP & EH wait until the latter part of the reporting period to attest so I can assume that the 9% number is on the low end.   The fact of the matter is that we should be properly documenting all these pieces of information regardless of an electronic record, it is just good patient care.  By easing up the restrictions on meaningful use sends the message that this pivotal moment on our journey to digitize health and further transform our collective system is not as urgent as it should be.  I just don’t think it is in the best interest of our patients.  By limiting the reporting period to 90 days as opposed to 365 is analogous to only treating the Chest Pain patients you see over a 90 day period correctly while extrapolating that the other patients treated over the next 275 days are treated just as well.  I realize that this may be an overly excessive example but I truly feel that we need to maintain the collective pressure to transform the patient care experience and focus on proper data input so patients can feel we as clinicains and the healthcare system as a whole are able to diagnose our collective patients as accurately and efficiently as possible.