AHA meaningful use recommendations criticized

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The American Hospital Association (AHA) has come under fire for suggestions made to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reports Healthcare IT News.

The AHA made a series of recommendations to the CMS over the attestation procedures for stage two of the meaningful use initiative earlier this week. However, members of the Health IT Policy Committee have dismissed some parts of the AHA’s recommendations as “spurious.”

In particular, the AHA’s assertions that patients should not be given extensive access to their records and hospital admissions data via medical informatics systems was hotly disputed by the National Partnership for Women & Families, a member of the Health IT Policy Committee.

“We know from the last two years of public debate on meaningful use that the association has really pushed back hard on the requirement around giving patients access to their health information electronically,” Christine Bechtel, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, told the news source. “It makes no sense to me that they would fight so hard against it, and create such spurious arguments.”

Members of the AHA argue that providing patients with admissions information electronically violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and that requiring hospitals attesting to stage two meaningful use of medical informatics systems was not feasible under present guidelines.

However, in a blog post published on the Center for Democracy and Technology’s (CDT) website, Devan McGraw, a lawyer and director of the Health Privacy Project at the CDT, said there was no basis for the argument that the CMS could not create attestation requirements that grant patients additional rights to access their health information.

McGraw added that hospitals should be seen as partners in healthcare by patients, and that the CMS were on solid legal ground in creating requirements that mandate hospitals provide patients with greater access to relevant information.

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