America's two-party system is both important for legislation and often responsible for a lot of bickering. As Fierce EMR notes, a mix of both of these have come out of a recent call for EHR meaningful use overhaul from a group of six senators. While the points the senators make are pertinent to physicians and practices trying to find traction with meaningful use - what role does the rhetoric itself play?
The REBOOT request
On April 16, six republican senators from Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas and South Dakota wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, asking for congressional oversight of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.
The senators note in their letter that their concerns about the HITECH Act include a lack of data supporting the current administration's assurance that taxpayer investment is being spent in such a way as to actually maximize health IT. The senators also included a white paper outlining each of their qualms with the HITECH Act - from cost to patient privacy to sustainability, among other issues - and effectively call for a reboot of the system.
However, as Marla Durben Hirsch notes in her Fierce EMR op-ed, the senators' request is being handled "respectfully." Hirsch takes time to quote from the letter and white paper the senators sent to Sebelius, pointing out not only its courtesy but the earnestness with which the senators seem to want to improve the advancement of meaningful use.
Regardless of senate or house politics, Hirsch notes, this sort of bipartisan respect could lead to important collaboration and - in the end - better health IT adoption.
Secretary Sebelius responds
In a recent Senate Finance Committee budget hearing, Healthcare Informatics reported that Sebelius responded to the senators' report, noting that HHS hadn't yet reached stage 2 meaningful use implementation yet.
"You might be reading the final chapter before we launch it," she told the senators.
As the meaningful use system is refined and improved, physicians and other small practices can get the help they may need pursuing EHR through consultancy and medical practice management software. Just as important as bipartisanship advancement in health IT is that EHR-adopting healthcare providers have the resources they need to stay current with meaningful use stage 2 criteria.