AMA calls MU Stage 2 'too demanding'

There are suggestions for improvement, and then there’s outright opposition.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is one of a number of groups asking the feds for adjustments to the Meaningful Use Stage 2 proposal, but in a new editorial the association jumps to the latter position in no uncertain terms.

Before coming to its point, the writers note, "Tens of thousands of physicians have implemented EHRs and registered them for the Medicare or Medicaid bonuses available to meaningful users of the technology. Many more doctors have determined for a multitude of reasons that they are not able to make the paperless leap just yet. After all, achieving meaningful use during Stage 1 requires not just installing and training on a costly new system but also using that system to meet numerous performance measures in a way that satisfies federal minimums."

Having alluded to the difficulties many providers have been having with Stage 1, the writers then declare that "the proposal [for Stage 2] in its current form is just too demanding, and physicians can see that clearly. That’s why the American Medical Association and more than 100 state and specialty medical societies sent formal comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services calling for significant revisions to the agency’s proposed rule outlining Stage 2 before the system can proceed to that advanced level."

They cite a number of reasons for their opposition, but, in more general terms, they argue that "the shift is being done in a way that would leave too little room for error and raise the chances too high that a practice will come up short on one or more key measures, rendering it ineligible for the thousands of dollars of bonus money that it was counting on to help recoup its substantial EHR investment."

More specific to the Stage 2 proposal, however, they focus on the ramped-up patient engagement requirements, noting "there’s only so much guidance and encouragement that physicians can give when it comes to patient behavior, and beyond that, matters are out of doctors' hands. Physicians have enough trouble getting patients to follow their clinical instructions, and it’s not fair to doctors to demand that they enforce patient adherence in this area as well."

Naturally, it will be interesting to see how ONC and CMS respond to such vociferous complaints, but in the meantime the AMA’s opinion gives us the perfect opportunity to ask a new poll question.

What do you think: Is MU Stage 2 "just too demanding?"

Jeff Rowe blogs regularly at