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.
“The workgroup’s recommendations demonstrate the breadth of meaningful use and the linkage of use to individual care and population health outcomes,” stated Dr. Blumenthal. “ONC and CMS recognize that achieving meaningful use will not be easy, but it is a journey we must take if we are to improve care through the use of EHRs.”
Officials from ONC and CMS will host a press call to answer questions about the HHS process from the time it receives the FACA recommendations to announcing the Department’s final definition for meaningful use. The call will take place on June 16 at 3:00 pm EDT. Contact [email protected] for details.