ACR, HIMSS Comment on MU2 Proposed Rule Changes

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The public-comment period for MU2 entered full swing this week, as both ACR and HIMSS weighed in on proposed rule changes to the federal EHR Incentive Program.

“We worked with our IT and informatics committee to compile input from a variety of folks, including our own members, leaders, even stakeholders who aren’t even from the radiology domain, into those comment letters,” Mike Peters, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs for ACR, told Imagingbiz. “It’s a huge effort that took place over the past couple of months.”

According to a news story from ACR, “ONC’s proposed rule suggests a long awaited change to the definition of ‘certified EHR technology’ that would eliminate many unused but currently required HIT functionalities.”

“In the current CMS regulations, if you meet the threshold of the exclusion, it’s just as good as satisfying the objectives,” Peters says. “On the technology side, everyone is still required because of ONC's regulatory definition of "Certified EHR Technology" to have products that enable them to do all the things CMS has excluded them from needing to do."

Peters says that his group “felt that it was not a logical thing” for ONC to require eligible professionals to have technology certified for criteria that correspond with any objectives from which they are excluded by CMS. For example, not having to e-prescribe, but still needing to have access to technology certified for the capability to e-prescribe.

One practical application of such technology could involve cloud-based or other distributed image-sharing solutions, although Peters says it’s more important, from the ACR perspective, to stay focused on the details within the proposed rules.

“To the extent that that incentivizes image-sharing and things of that nature would be fantastic, but when we commented on these NPRMs (Notices of Proposed Rulemaking), we did so at a very granular level,” he says. “Our interest in the program certainly is fueled to a certain degree by these larger policy issues, like image sharing, but when we comment on proposed regulations, it’s important to do so in the weeds so that there are no unintended consequences.”

Another key stakeholder in MU2, HIMSS, also offered its take on the proposed changes this week. Its wishlist included: greater alignment among federal and state requirements for quality reporting, the use of mobile technology in engaging patients, and questions around data portability.

“I will say that it’s important for folks to realize that there’s a large number and variety of stakeholders, and radiologists are not the agencies' top priority on this issue,” Peters says of ACR. “It’s an uphill battle constantly getting the attention for the things we want to see in the program.”

Final rules are expected to be published in the late summer of 2012.