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Medical Coding News Archives

HIT Policy Committee Proposes Meaningful Use Definition

 
July 14, 2009:

On June 16 the Health Information Technology Policy Committee took its first crack at trying to create a standard definition for “meaningful use” in relation to electronic health records (EHRs). This is significant because a provider must meet the criteria for meaningful use of a certified EHR if he or she wants to receive any incentive payments from Medicare authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The committee recommends that the ultimate goal of EHR meaningful use be to enable significant and measurable improvements in population health through a transformed health care delivery system. The committee indicates that it used a report released in 2008 by the National Priorities Partnership (convened by the National Quality Forum [NQF]) as a “North Star” in developing the definition.

The committee also indicates that the recommended definition of “meaningful use” will depend on the health care setting in which it is employed. For this reason, some of the features and capabilities will be recommended as required in an ambulatory setting before similar functions are expected to be widely used in the hospital.

The committee also recommends that the requirements for meaningful use be tiered and grow more complex each year between 2011 and 2015. After that, penalties would be doled out for not complying with such standards. For example, the committee created a matrix that contains the following categories:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and families
  • Improve care coordination
  • Improve population and public health
  • Ensure adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information (PHI)

Objectives and measures for each of these categories are identified within the matrix, with the standards becoming more complex year after year. For example, with the category of “engage patients and families,” a 2011 measure would be the percentage of encounters for which a clinical summary was provided while in 2013 the measure would be the percentage of summary care that was shared. 

The committee requested comments regarding its recommendations until June 29. Any revisions that result from the comments will be forthcoming in the next few months.

 

 
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