Meaningful Use Rules Drop Today

by | Jul 13, 2010

Nearly a year after the HIT Policy Committee’s meaningful use recommendations were approved by ONC chief Dr. David Blumenthal, an extensive comment period that solicited some 2,200 comments, the final Stage One meaningful use rules will be released today at 10:00am.  Details for today’s conference call are:

WHAT: CMS and ONC will host a press briefing to announce the final rules on Meaningful Use and Standards and Certification under the HITECH Act’s Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive program.
WHO: Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Donald Berwick, M.D, Administrator, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services
David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., Surgeon General
WHEN: Tuesday, July 13, 2010
10:00 a.m. EDT
WHERE: Great Hall, Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20201
Dial In: Call in: 800-857-6748
Verbal Passcode: HHS

A Couple of Thoughts on the Pending Release
A significant amount of effort by many a talented and dedicated individual has gone into providing the initial policy framework and ultimately the final language for these rules.  Hats-off to them for their service for what they may have done is defined much of the future core elements of healthcare IT systems in the decade to come.  Granted, this is only Stage One rules, we have only an inkling of an idea as to what to expect in Stages 2 & 3, but there is no doubt in our minds that these rules will have an impact on the HIT market, more broader technology adoption and use in healthcare and even more broadly, a fundamental change in healthcare delivery and the role of the citizen/patient.

While these rules will have a noticeable impact, we are less confident that they will have a lasting impact for two primary reasons:

  1. It remains to be seen just how many physicians will take the bait (incentives) to buy a “certified EHR” and jump through all the hoops to demonstrate their meaningful use of said EHR.  Yes, $44k may seem like a lot initially, but when you start digging a little deeper into what the total cost of ownership is for an EHR and the number of hoops you must jump through to get that incentive payment, that attractive $44k starts looking less attractive in a hurry.
  2. Looming on the horizon, just beyond the street noise that is meaningful use and the HITECH Act, is a far larger change agent, the Healthcare Reform Bill that was passed into law earlier this year.  Tucked into that legislation are a number of significant changes, primary among them, payment reform via CMS’s Innovation Center.  Following the old adage, “follow the money,” we at Chilmark foresee a restructuring of the healthcare delivery system that will necessitate the adoption of IT not for the aforementioned “meaningful use” but to more efficiently and effectively run operations.  (Over in the radiology world, an article on Aunt Minnie clearly directs radiologist to start thinking efficiency.) This is what organizations both large and small, and not just radiologists, need to be thinking about as meaningful use, in retrospect, may be seen as more of a distraction than anything else.


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