Sunday, May 3, 2009

Timely Report Published

Healthcare leaders at a forum hosted by the Markle Foundation on April 30th discussed the just released 2009 report “Achieving the Health Objectives under ARRA: A Framework for Meaningful Use and Certified or Qualified EHR”. The document examines how the meaningful use of EHRs can be accomplished when qualifying for CMS incentives under ARRA.

A diverse group of consumer, business, and health organizations under the auspices of Markle Connecting for Health worked together to provide the input to the document. The goal was to set a strategic course for the health IT provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The document basically stresses the importance for measuring progress when trying to accomplish specific goals. This is essential to improve healthcare quality, reduce the growth in costs, stimulate innovation, and protect privacy.

Opening the forum, Zoe Baird, President of the Markle Foundation said “there is an enormous potential to keep improving our healthcare system through using modern information tools. To do that, we need to set clear goals, define meaningful use as the use of information to improve health, and adopt an approach to technology and standards that fosters market innovation.”

David Blumenthal M.D., M.P.P, the newly appointed HHS National Coordinator for Health IT, told the attendees that he enthusiastically relates to electronic records, since he has used electronic records for the past ten years. He found that using technology has not only saved him from making mistakes in prescribing medications but also from ordering unnecessary tests.

As he pointed out, the HIT field was not advancing when only the private sector was involved, but now with the Federal government on board, this partnership will help the healthcare community move forward with health IT.

Dr. Blumenthal realizes that there is an enormous amount of work to do to accomplish the goals included in the ARRA legislation and to make those concepts concrete. To start, he plans to meet immediately with the advisory committees on standards and policy.

Mark McClellan, Former CMS and FDA Director, and now Senior Fellow and Director, Engelberg Center for Healthcare Reform at Brookings Institution, emphasized that the technology issues involving health IT have to fit into the big healthcare picture and be interrelated. The primary goal should be to study the impact of technology on healthcare and determine if those investments are making a difference.

To download the report, go to