Health Information Management

HITECH UPDATE: EHRs, meaningful use get spotlight

HIM-HIPAA Insider, May 4, 2009

Hospitals and physicians looking to get a better understanding of what is meant by “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs)—and how they could qualify for health information technology funds under the economic stimulus measure passed in March—got their wishes April 27.

Expanded definitions by an industry group, release of a new consensus framework report, and two days of testimony before a federal panel by nearly three dozen experts got the ball rolling.

Under the new stimulus law, Medicare incentive payments can be made for up to four years to hospitals and up to five years for physicians who meet meaningful use and meaningful user criteria of certified EHRs. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), after input from its membership, released new definitions April 27 to specify the meaning of those terms.

To be eligible for the incentive payments, hospitals and physicians must use the technology in a meaningful manner, exchange electronic health information to improve the quality of care, and submit clinical quality measures—and other measures—as selected by HHS secretary, according to the HIMSS definition.

Also, hospitals and physicians must meet the definition within a specified timeframe, which—as described in the stimulus bill—must be made increasingly stringent over time by the secretary.

Read the full story by Janice Simmons of HealthLeaders Media.

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