Since the HITECH Act became law as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year, health care organizations and those who do business with them have been curious about how the Department of Health and Human Services would define "meaningful use" of electronic medical records systems for purposes of qualifying for the federal incentives authorized in the act.
When the HHS regulations were finally released, the overall mood of those subject to the HITECH Act shifted from curiosity to concern. Several aired those concerns in the media and directly to HHS. For example, the American Hospital Association's executive VP, Rick Pollack, said:
As proposed, the current regulations may actually make it more difficult for hospitals and doctors to adopt health information technology. Unless significant changes are made and timelines re-examined, it is unlikely that the vast majority of hospitals can meet the proposed standards.
In response to this reaction, the federal health IT policy committee is back at it, reworking the meaningful use requirements. And a collective of 56 different organizations has offered its opinions on what those revised regulations should look like. According to a statement issued Tuesday, the Markle Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings coordinated the effort of the group to provide comments to the proposed rules on meaningful use, and the resulting 35-page document was also released Tuesday.
Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center at Brookings and a former Medicare and Medicaid administrator, said:
Health information technology can be a very effective tool to help providers and patients get better, less costly care. That's why investments in health IT should prioritize key quality and outcome reporting requirements, while also streamlining the administrative overhead. Our comments lay out a feasible path toward measuring and supporting a key goal of health care reform-achieving better results for patients-so that providers can focus their efforts on what's most important for reaching this goal.