Patient safety should be the primary focus of the federal government's proposed criteria for the "meaningful use" of electronic health records , TMA told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in a March 15 letter [ PDF ] to Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera. The letter from TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD, and Joseph H. Schneider, MD, MBA, chair of TMA's Ad Hoc Committee on Health Information Technology, addresses numerous points in the CMS proposal, including incentive payments, quality measures, and e-prescribing.
The 2009 federal economic stimulus bill includes Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to physicians for the meaningful use of certified electronic health records technology.
"TMA is concerned about the 'unintended consequences' of EMRs, particularly in hurried implementations," they said in the letter. "A 2009 TMA survey reported that 33% of respondents experience new types of errors and find these to be major dissatisfiers with their EMRs. New types of errors are now well-known but the EMR industry still has no mechanisms for handling these systematically. We strongly encourage the development of a national 'no-fault' reporting system for errors and near-misses that occur through the use of EMRs. The ability of a physician to report EMR safety issues to such a system should be a part of the criteria for achieving Meaningful Use in 2013."
Drs. Fleming and Schneider said TMA "has a keen interest in health information technology." In fact, they wrote, "one of its priority strategies is to 'Increase Texas physicians' understanding, adoption, and appropriate utilization of vital information technologies, to support efficiency, efficacy, and quality-of-care measurement.' TMA believes federal stimulus incentives and meaningful use guidelines, if implemented appropriately, are crucial to the success of nationwide EHR adoption."
Action , April 1, 2010