HHS Releases Criteria on 'Meaningful Use,' Interoperability to Qualify for Billions in Funds for Electronic Health RecordsWritten by Leigh Page | January 04, 2010
HHS has issued two sets of proposed regulations that clarify standards hospitals, physicians and other providers must meet to be eligible for $14.1 billion and $27.3 billion in funding under the HITECH Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to an HHS release.
1. Definition of "meaningful use." A proposed CMS rule defines the concept of "meaningful use" of technology that providers must demonstrate to receive funds for installing electronic health records.
The criteria would be phased in, starting with basic requirements reflecting currently available technological capabilities and then establishing stricter and more extensive criteria.
A provider would need to be using certified EHR technology in a manner that improves quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare delivery, reduces healthcare disparities, engages patients and families, improves care coordination, improves population and public health and ensures adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information.
The exact criteria that providers have to meet in the first phase of implementation are listed on Table 2 on page 103 of the 556-page proposed rule (pdf).
2. Interoperability standards. An interim final regulation from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology sets down interoperability standards to exchange healthcare data between each provider and between providers and patients.
The regulations describe standardized formats for functions such as clinical summaries, medical descriptions of clinical conditions and test results and how that information is exchanged over the Internet.
The interim final regulation will go into effect 30 days after publication, with an opportunity for public comment and refinement over the next 60 days.
Read the HHS release on HITECH.
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