A defining moment: Final meaningful use and certification definitions proposed

Two big announcements have been made in regard to electronic health records (EHRs). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued its draft definition of “meaningful use” , and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has issued an interim final rule on certification criteria . Meaningful use The meaningful use definition describes the proposed criteria for achieving meaningful use. As expected, the definition follows the major parameters actually written into the bill: An EHR should be certified, include e-prescribing, be able to exchange information, and be able to report quality data. However, the criteria are now broken into stages. Initial meaningful use criteria are referred to as Stage 1. Two additional updates—referred to as Stage 2 (proposed by the end of 2011) and Stage 3 (proposed by the end of 2013)—are anticipated. Here are the basics. Stage 1: The meaningful use criteria in this stage focuses on electronically capturing health information in a coded format; using that information to track key clinical conditions and communicating that information for care coordination purposes; implementing clinical decision support tools to facilitate disease and medication management; and reporting clinical quality measures and public health information. Stage 2: The proposed goals expand upon Stage 1 criteria “to encourage the use of health IT for continuous quality improvement at the point of care and the exchange of information in the most structured format possible, such as the electronic transmission of orders entered using computerized provider order entry (CPOE) and the electronic transmission of diagnostic test results (such as blood tests, microbiology, urinalysis, pathology tests, radiology, cardiac imaging, nuclear medicine tests, pulmonary function tests and other such data needed to diagnose and treat disease).” Stage 3: The proposed goals focus on promoting improvements in quality, safety, and efficiency; decision support for national high-priority conditions; giving patients access to self management tools and comprehensive patient data; and improving population health. Certification The IFR on certification details the technical specifications necessary to support secure, electronic exchange and meaningful use of health information. An ongoing process Keep in mind that meaningful use as defined for 2011—as well as the certification criteria to support it—are only the first major steps in a continuing process. “These criteria will set a level of expectation for what can be achieved today and in the near future through the adoption and use of a certified EHR system,” wrote David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology, in a press release. “We fully expect that, over time, as needs and technologies evolve, the expectations can evolve as well. “ You can weigh in Finally, the initial proposed rules aren’t final yet. We are currently in a 60-day comment period to help inform the final 2011 meaningful use criteria. And although the certification standards will go into effect 30 days after publication, after publication there will be an opportunity for public comment for 60 days. We encourage you to voice your opinion. You can comment on behalf of your organization by visiting the Department of Health & Human Services or by using the Regulations.gov portal .

Two big announcements have been made in regard to electronic health records (EHRs).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued its draft definition of “meaningful use”, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has issued aninterim final rule on certification criteria.

Meaningful use

The meaningful use definition describes the proposed criteria for achieving meaningful use.

As expected, the definition follows the major parameters actually written into the bill: An EHR should be certified, include e-prescribing, be able to exchange information, and be able to report quality data.

However, the criteria are now broken into stages. Initial meaningful use criteria are referred to as Stage 1. Two additional updates—referred to as Stage 2 (proposed by the end of 2011) and Stage 3 (proposed by the end of 2013)—are anticipated. Here are the basics.

Stage 1: The meaningful use criteria in this stage focuses on electronically capturing health information in a coded format; using that information to track key clinical conditions and communicating that information for care coordination purposes; implementing clinical decision support tools to facilitate disease and medication management; and reporting clinical quality measures and public health information.

Stage 2: The proposed goals expand upon Stage 1 criteria “to encourage the use of health IT for continuous quality improvement at the point of care and the exchange of information in the most structured format possible, such as the electronic transmission of orders entered using computerized provider order entry (CPOE) and the electronic transmission of diagnostic test results (such as blood tests, microbiology, urinalysis, pathology tests, radiology, cardiac imaging, nuclear medicine tests, pulmonary function tests and other such data needed to diagnose and treat disease).”

Stage 3: The proposed goals focus on promoting improvements in quality, safety, and efficiency; decision support for national high-priority conditions; giving patients access to self management tools and comprehensive patient data; and improving population health.

Certification

The IFR on certification details the technical specifications necessary to support secure, electronic exchange and meaningful use of health information.

An ongoing process

Keep in mind that meaningful use as defined for 2011—as well as the certification criteria to support it—are only the first major steps in a continuing process.

“These criteria will set a level of expectation for what can be achieved today and in the near future through the adoption and use of a certified EHR system,” wrote David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology, in a press release. “We fully expect that, over time, as needs and technologies evolve, the expectations can evolve as well. “

You can weigh in

Finally, the initial proposed rules aren’t final yet. We are currently in a 60-day comment period to help inform the final 2011 meaningful use criteria. And although the certification standards will go into effect 30 days after publication, after publication there will be an opportunity for public comment for 60 days. We encourage you to voice your opinion. You can comment on behalf of your organization by visiting the Department of Health & Human Services or by using the Regulations.gov portal.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.