Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Defining "Meaningful Use" Begins Today

We've all been waiting for today. Today (June 16), those in the health information technology (Health IT, HIT, or HITECH) industry began getting glimpses of the definition of "meaningful use" from government leaders. If physicians use an electronic health record (EHR), they must use it in a meaningful way if they are to reap the benefits and avoid the punishments stated in the ARRA. Who gets to decide if you're using an EHR in a meaningful way? The government.

Today is just the beginning of a long conversation, according to Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Today, the HIT Policy Committee met and highlighted some of the essential components that outlines this mysterious phrase, "meaningful use." We won't see physicians meaningfully using an EHR overnight. This will happen in three stages (although many things will also be happening simultaneously):
  1. Data capture and sharing by 2011
  2. Advanced clinical processes by 2013
  3. Improved outcomes by 2015
Here are some key points of data capture and sharing:
  • Physicians must actually document outpatient progress notes using an EHR (so can you still dictate your note and have it manually transcribed into the EHR?)
  • They must use computerized physician order entry (CPOE) for all order types, including e-prescribing
  • They must improve care coordination (that's a bit nebulous if you ask me, but I'm sure they will eventually iron out the critiera for this)
  • Submit electronic data to registries and other databases to improve public health and assist with disease surveillance
  • Comply with HIPAA Rules and state laws (isn't this obvious?)
So, this is just the beginning of a long conversation. Any surprises here, or have we simply stated the obvious?

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