October 1, 2009 - While we wait for the definition of "meaningful use," Dr. David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, recommends physicians become "as familiar as possible with the discussion of meaningful use criteria to date."
In a publicly issued message today, Dr. Blumenthal discussed the impact of the the HITECH Act provisions of the Recovery Act, and reminded the medical community that CMS will publish a formal definition of "meaningful use" by December 31, 2009. Which will be followed by a period of public comment on the definition, comments which will then be considered in reaching any final definition of the term.
Don't get discouraged. While you wait to find out how much money your facility is eligible for, do your homework. Dr. Blumenthal suggested, "In the meantime, what can providers do to move toward becoming “meaningful users” – even in the absence of a formal definition? Naturally, while understanding that the final definition will be adopted through a formal rulemaking process, it will be helpful to be as familiar as possible with the discussion of meaningful use criteria to date."
He continued, "Armed with an understanding of the discussion of meaningful use as it unfolds, providers can begin to consider how their own practices or organizations might be reshaped to enhance the efficiency and quality of care through the use of an electronic health record system. Be assured you will not be alone as you seek to adopt an EHR system. Through our recently announced collaborative HITECH grants programs and others to be initiated later this year, we will continue to support providers in moving forward. Additional details about the grants are also available in my previous update."
While providers brush up on the discussion of "meaningful use" criteria, Dr. Blumenthal and the Health Information Technology committee will work on defining what constitutes a 'certified' EHR, "which is one of the requirements to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentives."
For more information: healthit.hhs.gov/meaningfuluse and healthit.hhs.gov/HITECHgrants