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Defining EHR "Meaningful Use" Begins

The Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee met June 16 to begin the process of defining “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs).

According to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) news release: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act) provides Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to eligible providers, such as physicians and hospitals, to increase the adoption of EHRs. To receive the incentive payments, providers must demonstrate “meaningful use” of a certified EHR.

In a fact sheet, issued June 19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said they intend to publish a proposed rule in late 2009 to define “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology and establish criteria for the incentives programs.

CMS has developed the following timeline based on the current implementation plan:

Date Milestone
  • Coordinate with ONC to develop policies such as the definition of meaningful use
  • Develop proposed rules to allow public input to the incentive program policies
  • Plan systems and other requirements needed to support the incentives programs
  • Plan national outreach program
  • Conduct outreach to eligible professionals and providers and to State Medicaid Agencies
  • Develop systems to support the payment of incentives
  • Develop final rules to establish policies needed to pay incentives
  • Develop systems to monitor and evaluate incentive payments
No sooner than October 2010 Start to pay hospital incentives for Medicare and monitor payments
No sooner than January 2011
  • Start to pay eligible professionals for Medicare and monitor payments
  • Begin and monitor Medicaid incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals
2011 – 2016 Continue paying hospital incentives for Medicare and monitor payments
2011 – 2016 Continue paying eligible professionals incentives for Medicare and monitor payments
2011 – 2021 Continue paying Medicaid incentives to eligible professionals and hospitals and monitor payments
2015 and thereafter Initiate payment reductions to Medicare hospitals and eligible professionals that fail to adopt EHRs

Click here to view a meaningful use matrix released by the HIT Policy Committee meeting. For information specific to the CMS EHR incentive program, visit the CMS Web site.

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