The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released final "meaningful use" rules on how health care providers can access $27 billion in federal economic stimulus money by using electronic medical records. Health care providers can begin to receive these incentives in 2011.
The U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services has released final rules on how health care providers
can qualify for up to $27 billion in incentives to implement electronic medical
records beginning in 2011.
The health care industry
continues to mull over an 864-page document on "meaningful use" rules
from the department's CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Services) and ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information
Health care providers
must demonstrate "meaningful use" of electronic health records to be
awarded Medicare and Medicaid incentives under the Obama administration's
The announcement on July
13 made the requirements more flexible and divided the 25 objectives into two
categories. They include 15 objectives required of physicians and hospitals,
and a "menu set" of 10 procedures, of which five may be deferred to
2011-12. Objectives for after 2012 will be added later.
The government also
requires that hospitals implement patient-education programs and that sharing
of medical tests comply with privacy guidelines under HIPAA and the National
Privacy and Security Framework.
Government incentives for
implementing electronic medical records were established under the HITECH
(Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act.
"For years, health
policy leaders on both sides of the aisle have urged adoption of electronic
health records throughout our health care system to improve quality of care and
ultimately lower costs," Health and Human Services Department Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement."Today, with the leadership of the
president and the Congress, we are making that goal a reality."
HHS estimated that as much as $27
billion could be doled out to the health care industry over 10 years, with
medical professionals receiving up to $44,000 under Medicare and $63,750 under
Medicaid. Meanwhile, under Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals could receive
millions for use of certified EMRs.
According to the HHS, increased use of electronic
medical records could reduce health care costs, increase safety and improve Americans'
health overall. The "meaningful use" requirements are the start of a
five-year government campaign to increase implementation of EMRs.
administration's February 2009 stimulus bill, ARRA (American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act), put the "meaningful use" rules into place.
The last announcement of
regulations on meaningful use came in January. At that time, doctors criticized
the guidelines and noted missing physician narratives
, a doctor's assessment of a
patient's condition. The American Medical Association had called the rules too
Mark Segal, vice
president of government and industry affairs for General Electric Healthcare IT
and past vice chair of the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA),
said the rules were helpful overall for the health care industry and show the
government's commitment to health care IT.
evidence is that health care IT can increase the quality and efficiency of the
health care system," Segal told eWEEK.
GE offers a Centricity
software platform that allows enterprises to
manage the flow of patients and the revenue cycle for a practice. Segal said
clarifications in the rules should allow IT departments to implement them more