AMA Weighs in on Meaningful Use

The AMA has finally weighed in on the meaningful use final rule and it’s not a glowing recommendation for meaningful use and the changes that were made. Here’s a short summary from the Wall Street Journal healthcare blog.

Now, after “careful review,” the AMA is weighing in. In a memo [PDF] to its board of trustees, the group’s CEO, Michael Maves, says that while “the Administration did move on several points, the [AMA] believes that it will be challenging for many physicians to participate successfully in the program. This will be especially true for those physicians in solo or small group practices who have not previously utilized an EHR.” (That refers to an electronic health record — the Health Blog has traditionally used “electronic medical record.” Tomatoes, tomahtoes.)

The AMA had pressed for reducing the number of criteria physicians needed to meet in order to get the first round of incentives from the original mandated 25 to a choice of any five of those. The final requirements include a “core” group of 15 requirements; providers must choose an additional five from the remaining items. That “is still too high,” the group says.

In addition, the group says no currently available EMR does everything that docs will need to do to meet the requirement — though products should be available this fall — making it tough to ramp up before the beginning of the incentive program. Also included on the list of what the AMA calls “remaining challenges”: high threshold requirements for many of the requirements, a lack of focus on how usable the systems are and the absence of an appeals process for docs if they are declared ineligible for incentives.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Here’s what I posted elsewhere today:

    Meaningful use is in fact quite doable — at least in the outpatient setting

    One clinic I visited yesterday in northern Nevada — Silver Sage — will be an exemplar for me (I’m an REC adoption support workflow specialist). They look to be a shoo-in for Meaningful Use compliance. They use eMDs, and they are really using it. eRx? Check. CPOE? Check. 2-way lab interface feeding back structured data? Check. Reminders? Check. Patient cohort lists by various problem areas? Check. Active meds list (incl drug-drug, drug-allergies, formularies)? Check. Patient portal? Check… etc, etc, etc.

    With the Final Rule relaxation of the MU criteria and what I saw in operation yesterday, I’m now of the “stop-whining-and-just-DO-it” mindset. Use your Regional Extension Center services, too. We’re not in it for the money, we’re in it to improve healthcare, period.

    Yes, you will need a viable, highly “usable” system, and will need to use it in a way that goes beyond just an electronic filing cabinet (e.g., scanning everything in sight into TIFF files, etc). Yes, you will need to re-do workflow in order to eliminate process waste and align information flow. Of course. Just do it. You’ll improve both patient outcomes and your bottom line, attacked adroitly…

    While I have many concerns with the way this whole HITECH Act thing has been rolled out (and with U.S. health care policy more broadly), it’s time for everyone to pull together and make this work.


  • I agree, Bobby G, but people, even doctors (perhaps especially doctors) fear change, and EMRs change everything about how a practice is run. Societies like the AMA represent the interest of what seems to be that majority of physicians: to use and EMR as little as possible because it will “change too much”. It’s not a valid excuse, but for better or worse whenever the government mandates a technology is adopted people are going to feel slighted and confused for a number of years.

  • Hi John – I had chance to read the full AMA document and my comments are below. I would encourage your readers to try (I know it’s hard) to read the source document whenever possible.
    There’s some basis to AMA’s points but I think they’ve missed the boat in some of the conclusions. First of all, one should only decide to adopt EHR with clear goals – whether it’s clinical, patient satisfaction, operational, financial or personal. Incentive program is a voluntary program. Even if you want to participate, you have a choice in when to participate. It can be as early as 1/1/2011 but can be as late as 2012(Medicare) / 2016(Medicaid) and still get the FULL payments. If you don’t care about getting the full amount, you can start even later. Even if you decide to participate in 2011, for Medicaid, all you have to do is adopt, implement or upgrade to a certified EHR anytime during the year. For Medicare, one can show the MU status as late as 10/1 to 12/31/2011. I have first hand appreciation for how much work it really is to “adopt, implement or upgrade” EHR. It is HARD work and only should be done if you know what you want to get out of it. It’s worth it for most.

  • Bobby,
    That’s definitely a point that I think we easily forget. There’s still time to implement meaningful use. Sure, you can start reporting next year if you’re ready, but you won’t miss out on anything if you wait an extra year.

    Not that people should wait forever, but they can do this at a reasonable pace.

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