On September 4, Pierce County Medical Society Vice President Dr. Nicholas Rajacich, Treasurer Dr. Khash Dehghan, and Executive Director Bruce Ehrle met with US Representative Derek Kilmer of Washington's 6th District at his office in Tacoma about topics of importance to physicians in our county.
The PCMS leadership raised the ongoing problems relating to achieving meaningful use of Health Information Technology, stressing that flexibility with regard to Stage 3 needs to be offered by CMS. The current landscape of only 20 percent of physicians having achieved success with Stage 2, the very serious interoperability issues where different systems from different vendors can't communicate, and questions about how upcoming quality metrics will be included in meaningful use standards were all discussed in the meeting with Rep. Kilmer.
The PCMS delegation noted that great achievements in patient care, quality improvement, practice management, and cost reduction can be realized with Health Information Technology but that the haphazard nature of implementation has created many difficulties for physicians that will only be exacerbated if Stage 3 moves forward without an effort to fix deficiencies that exist. PCMS leaders advocated that common sense modifications are needed in the push toward meaningful use and those modifications should not come at the expense of physician practices and other providers that have adopted EHR systems in good faith only to find that their systems are inadequate to evolving regulations out of Baltimore and Washington, DC. The PCMS leadership stressed that as any changes are made to EHR systems to fix current shortcomings and as future regulations are released, potential disruption to physician office workflow be kept in mind while a priority is placed on offering technical assistance to providers to help them manage those changes.
The Pierce County Medical Society leadership also noted to Rep. Kilmer that with quality metrics under the new MIPS and Alternative Payment Model due out from HHS and CMS in the next year, it will be vital that those metrics which will determine incentive and penalty payments reflect the reality of front-line care that physicians are experts at. PCMS updated Rep. Kilmer about upcoming interactions planned for the Society with CMS leadership to offer suggestions about those upcoming quality metrics and he stated his belief that it would be wise for CMS to consult with practicing physicians as the agency designs what health care quality will mean in the United States over the coming years. Rep. Kilmer offered his assistance getting access to CMS leaders for PCMS in the event of any roadblocks.
Rep. Kilmer offered to speak to the PCMS membership in the coming months in order to provide an update on federal health care policy. The Society will be looking to schedule a conference call for him to be able to do that--and for PCMS members to interact with one of the US Representatives that has a part of Pierce County in their House District.
PCMS leaders and Rep. Kilmer agreed to remain in close touch on these issues as well as the implementation of ICD-10.