Issue Background

Electronic Health Records

The Electronic Health Record (EHR) Meaningful Use program is designed to incentivize physicians to adopt electronic health records and implement them in their practice. The program is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is being rolled out in three stages. Implementation of Stage 1 is underway now and Stage 2 implementation began in 2014. As of June 2014, Stage 3 implementation had been delayed until 2017. The staged implementations require progressively higher levels of EHR use, including submitting data on clinical quality measures, sharing data with a health information exchange, and using clinical decision support tools.

The AAOS believes the potential benefits of EHR adoption are vast, and we believe widespread usage of well-designed EHRs will benefit our patients and the practice of medicine. We recognize, however, the cost of implementation may appear prohibitive to many practices. We have relayed this position in letters to the government regarding the implementation of the Meaningful Use program, stressing implementation that is practical and flexible enough for physicians and their patients.

A central feature of the EHR Meaningful Use program is the use of Clinical Quality Measures. For Stage 1 of Meaningful Use, CMS has a suggested set of core measures that can be useful for physicians treating adult patients. Stages 2 and 3 of Meaningful Use require more advanced use of clinical quality measures. In the summer of 2014, the AAOS launched its Performance Measures Committee to address orthopaedics’ need for useful, specialty-specific performance measures that could be used in quality reporting programs, including the Meaningful Use program.

Starting January 1, 2015, many doctors will see their 2015 Medicare payments cut by 1 percent for failing to meet the program’s Stage 1 meaningful-use criteria in calendar year 2013 (physicians must participate in the program two years proceeding the penalty year). The penalty for not participating increases to 2 percent in 2016, 3 percent in 2017, and can go up to as much as 5 percent of physician’s total Medicare Part B allowed charges.

For more information, see the below AAOS articles, and visit the AAOS Practice Management website at [login required]:

Other Resources

Comment Letters and Position Statements

Related Materials