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And We’re Off! Meaningful Use Notes from the CMS & ONC Press Briefing July 13, 2010

I was fortunate enough to be listening by phone to the historic (yes, historic) announcement of the final meaningful use rules by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary HHS; Don Berwick, MD, new CMS Administrator; David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology at HHS; Regina Benjamin, MD, Surgeon General and a surprise speaker, Regina Holliday, artist and activist for patient rights.

Kathleen Sebelius

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The memorable quotes I wrote down were:

Kathleen Sebelius: “When electronic health records are well-designed and implemented correctly, they can be a powerful force for reducing errors, lowering costs, raising quality of care, and increasing doctor and patient satisfaction.” That is the best one-sentence description of “Why EHR?” I’ve ever heard.

Don Berwick: “If it’s (EHR) so good, why doesn’t everyone use it? Because it’s HARD.” There is a little slice of honesty that you won’t get from most EHR vendors.

David Blumenthal: “We are only as good in treating patients as the information we have.” Wow, an admission that could rock the medical world if we stopped and thought about it.

Regina Holliday: “I will not stop until we all have the right see our own information.” Regina’s Medical Advocacy Blog is here. Her lauded mural “73 Cents” refers to how much per page she was told by the hospital medical records department she would have to pay to get a copy of her husband’s records while he was still in that hospital.

The Meat: Specifics of Stage 1 Meaningful Use (2011 and 2012)

Meaningful use includes both a core set and a menu set of objectives that are specific for eligible professionals and hospitals.

For Eligible Professionals (definition here), there are a total of 25 available meaningful use objectives. 20 of the objectives must be completed to qualify for an incentive payment. 15 are core objectives that are required, and the remaining 5 objectives may be chosen from the list of 10 menu set objectives.

For Hospitals, there are a total of 24 available meaningful use objectives. 14 are core objectives that are required, and the remaining 5 objectives may be chosen from the list of 10 menu set objectives.

Stage 1 (2011 – 2012) sets the baseline for electronic data capture and information sharing.

Stage 2 (est. 2013) and Stage 3 (est. 2015) will continue to expand on this baseline and be developed through future rule making.

Summary Overview Of Meaningful Use Objectives

(full article from New England Journal of Medicine here)

As I am sure you expect, there will be much more information to come.

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Quick Reference for Acronyms and Buzzwords of ARRA and HITECH

certification @Sgame/Dreamstime.comARRA: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also called “The Stimulus Package” or “The Stimulus Bill.”  Of the $850B in the bill,  $51B is pegged for the health care industry and $19B of that will be used to incent medical practices to adopt EMRs/EHRs.

CCHIT: the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology is a private organization that certifies EMRs and EHRs based on 475 criteria spanning functionality, interoperability and security.  CCHIT does not evaluate ease of use of products, financial viability of the company offering the software; or the quality of customer support offered by the software vendor.  Whether or not CCHIT will be THE certifying organization to approve “qualified EMRs” will be announced at the end of the year.  (Can be pronounced “SEA-CHIT” or each letter can be pronounced as in “C.C.H.I.T.”)

Comparative Effectiveness: Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) compares treatments and strategies to improve health.  For CER, HITECH provides $300M for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, $400M for the National Institutes of Health, and $400M for the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

EHR: The aggregate electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created and gathered cumulatively across more than one health care organization and is managed and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff involved in the individual’s health and care.

EMR: The electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created, gathered, managed, and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff from a single organization who are involved in the individual’s health and care.

HITECH: The HIT components of the stimulus package ”” collectively labeled HITECH are:

  1. Funding to the Office of the National Coordinator of HIT (ONCHIT)
  2. HIT adoption incentives through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement
  3. Comparative effectiveness research for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
  4. Funding for the Indian Health Service
  5. Construction funds for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for community health centers
  6. Funds for the Social Security Administration to upgrade HIT systems
  7. Funding for the Veterans Administration
  8. The Department of Agriculture will receive telemedicine funding
  9. Funds to the National Telecommunications Administration for broadband to enable telemedicine.

Interoperability (hospitals): (as defined by HIMSS- Health Information and Management Systems Society)not yet defined for ambulatory care

Meaningful Use: To qualify as a “meaningful user,” eligible providers must demonstrate use of a “qualified EHR” in a “meaningful manner.” ARRA defers to the secretary of Health and Human Services (HSS) to set specific guidelines for determining what constitutes a “qualified EHR”; however, it does specify that e-prescribing, electronic exchange of medical records, and interoperability of systems will be determining criteria.  Starting in 2011, providers deemed to be “meaningful users” of EHR systems will be eligible to receive $40,000 – $60,000 in incentive payments paid out over five years in the form of increased Medicare and Medicaid payments.

ONCHIT: Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.  In 2004 the position was created by by Presidential Executive Order.  In March 2009, President Obama appointed David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. to the position. The primary purpose of this position is to aid the Secretary of HHS in achieving the President’s goal for most Americans to have access to an interoperable electronic medical record by 2014 (from the HHS.gov website.)

PHR or ePHR: An electronic, cumulative record of health-related information on an individual, drawn from multiple sources, that is created, gathered, and managed by the individual. The integrity of the data in the ePHR and control of access to that data is the responsibility of the individual.

David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P.:Selected by President Obama as his choice for National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Blumenthal will lead the implementation of a nationwide interoperable, privacy-protected health information technology infrastructure as called for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.