Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) today released the comments they have been collecting from industry stakeholders on the concerns they raised in their health information technology (health IT) white paper released in April of 2013. “REBOOT: Re-examining the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT,” outlined the Senators’ concerns with current federal health IT Meaningful Use program, including possible increased health care costs, lack of momentum toward interoperability, potential waste and abuse, patient privacy, and long-term sustainability.
The white paper was part of a broader effort to solicit feedback from the administration and foster an ongoing conversation on improving the health IT program with the administration and stakeholder community, including health care providers, technology vendors, and others. Industry stakeholders were eager to engage on the issue of health IT and provided dozens of comments.
The comments received from industry stakeholders generated consensus around several points the Senators outlined in their white paper. Several provider and vendor groups agreed that the lack of interoperability requirements under Meaningful Use is a major barrier to data exchange. Physicians groups and individual practitioners also expressed concern that the Meaningful Use requirements do not take into account the scope or size of a practice. Physicians groups, including the American Medical Association, and individual practitioners expressed frustration over the user experience of some electronic health record systems. These systems often are not adapted to physician workflows. The full list of the comments from industry stakeholders can be viewed here. The Senators recognize that some of the concerns may be addressed in the next stage of implementation of the Meaningful Use program.The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had two months to review the white paper and provide the requested feedback to a letter by June 16, 2013. However, no comments or response has been received from HHS to date. The Senators look forward to receiving a response and working together to address stakeholder concerns.