News | August 21, 2009

‘Meaningful Use’ Definition Not Available Until Spring 2010

David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology

August 21, 2009 - The final definition of the “meaningful use” of electronic health records that will be used to determine eligibility for incentive payments under the economic stimulus program will not be available until the middle or end of spring 2010, stated David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology, in a press conference held Aug. 20.

However, Dr. Blumenthal added, a preliminary definition of meaningful use requirements will be issued by the end of this year, followed by a 60-day comment period.

"In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we will be rolling out a number of pivotal initiatives called for under the HITECH Act," Dr. Blumenthal said in a letter to the public released on the same day. "With the passage earlier this year of the HITECH, we have the tools to begin a major transformation in American healthcare made possible through the creation of a secure, interoperable nationwide health information network."

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), hospitals and physicians can receive Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for making meaningful use of certified electronic health records systems.

A certification workgroup of the federal HIT Policy Committee recently recommended that multiple EHR certification bodies be created. Blumenthal, however, stressed that it’s premature to conclude that the final federal EHR certification rules will, in fact, include multiple certification entities.

For more information: www.hhs.gov

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