MA Physicians Must Show EHR Proficiency

Megan Brooks

December 30, 2014

Physicians in Massachusetts now have a roadmap on how to comply with a 2012 state law that requires proficiency with electronic health records (EHRs) as a condition of licensure, as well as the skills needed to achieve the federal "meaningful use" (MU) standard.

Regulations approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine on December 17 establish several ways in which physicians would be in compliance with the state mandate, which goes into effect January 1, 2015.

Under the regulations, physicians are considered to have demonstrated proficiency if they meet any one of the following conditions:

  • Participating in the MU program as an eligible professional.

  • Having a relationship with a hospital certified as an MU participant. This relationship would be satisfied by any one of the following conditions: employed by the hospital, credentialed by the hospital to provide patient care, or having a "contractual agreement" with the hospital.

  • Completing at least 3 hours of accredited continuing medical education program on EHRs that, at a minimum, discusses the core and menu set objectives, as well as the clinical quality measures for MU.

  • Participating or being an authorized user in the Massachusetts Health Information Highway, the state's official health information exchange.

The Massachusetts Medical Society applauded the new regulations.

"The Board's action represents a prudent, common sense approach to complying with the law," said Richard Pieters, MD, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, in a statement. "While it eases physician concerns about licensure, the most important aspect of the Board's action is that it preserves access to care for patients."

"The Massachusetts Medical Society," Dr Pieters added, "believes that [EHRs] have enormous potential for patient care, and the Society's extensive policy on EMRs declares support for them and a desire to work toward improving them. We are grateful that the Board of Registration has taken a reasonable approach on this issue, exhibiting utmost concerns for patient safety and access to care."

Massachusetts appears to be a trailblazer on this issue.

The American Medical Association is "unaware of any other state law or regulation that conditions medical licensure on EHR proficiency," Robert J. Mills, media relations coordinator at the American Medical Association, told Medscape Medical News.

Drew Carlson, director of public relations for the Federation of State Medical Boards, also told Medscape Medical News, "To our knowledge, Massachusetts is the only state with such requirements."

The federation "does not have an official policy or position" on the Massachusetts requirements, he added.


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