Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Process Begins to Define "Meaningful Use" of Electronic Health Records

Building on the historic $19 billion investment provided through the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), efforts
continued today to further the national adoption and implementation of
health information technology (HIT) -- an essential tool to modernize
the health care system and bring about improved health for all
Americans. The Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee, a
Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) to the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS), met today to begin the process of defining
"meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHRs). This meeting is a
first step for the department, as it investigates possible definitions
for meaningful use.

"We are moving fast to achieve the President's goal to improve the
health and well-being of every American through the on-going use of
health information technology," stated HHS' National Coordinator for
Health Information Technology David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. "The work
of the policy committee is a first step toward assuring that technology
-- the electronic health record -- is used in a meaningful way to
provide better patient care."

The Recovery Act provides Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to
eligible providers, such as physicians and hospitals, in order to
increase the adoption of EHRs. To receive the incentive payments,
providers must demonstrate "meaningful use" of a certified EHR.
Building upon the work done by the HIT Policy Committee, the Centers for
Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with the Office of the
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), will be
developing a proposed rule that provides greater detail on the incentive
program and proposes a definition of meaningful use. CMS expects to
issue the proposed rule in late 2009, which will be followed by a
comment period.

The recommendations discussed today represent extensive work by the
Committee's Meaningful Use Workgroup to review and evaluate diverse
ideas and contributions from Workgroup members along with information
from a public hearing on meaningful use convened in April by the
National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS). The NCVHS
hearing brought together key healthcare and information technology
stakeholder groups. The workgroup also reviewed written comments from
additional diverse stakeholders.

A public comment period on today's recommendations will be open through
the close of business on Friday, June 26, 2009. Instructions on how to
submit public comment can be found at http://healthit.hhs.gov.

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