On December 30th, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT issued regulations defining “Meaningful Use” and the rules for setting standards for Electronic Health Record incentives. The regulations are needed to help implement the EHR incentive programs enacted under the Recovery Act. Public comments are encouraged to help finalize the regulations that are due in 2010.
As required by the HITECH Act, HHS issued an initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria needed to enhance the interoperability, functionality, utility, and security of HIT. According to Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for HIT, the adoption and meaningful use of IT in healthcare is central to a necessary and overdue modernization of the U.S. health system.
The criteria outlined in the Interim Final Rule (IFR) on Standards & Certification Criteria details the requirements for certified electronic health record systems and the technical specifications needed to support the interoperable nationwide electronic exchange and the meaningful use of health information. The IFR interim final rule will become effective 30 days after the information is published with comments requested for the next 60 days.
In a related announcement, CMS issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that outlines provisions governing the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs including a proposed definition for the concept of the meaningful use of EHR technology.
“These regulations are closely linked”, said Charlene Frizzera, CMS Acting Administrator. “The CMS proposed regulation defines the meaningful use of EHR technology as required as a prerequisite for receiving the Medicare incentive payments.
The Recovery Act established programs to provide incentive payments to help eligible professionals and hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid adopt and make meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Incentive payments may begin as soon as October 2010 to go to hospitals and incentive payments to go to eligible providers beginning in January 2011.
For more information and details on the regulations, go to www.federalregister.gov then click on Public Inspection for the draft regulations that are due to be published on January 13th. To view the CMS proposed rule and fact sheets go to www.cms.hhs.gov/Recovery/11_HealthIT.asp or go to http://healthit.hhs.gov/standardsandcertification to view ONCs interim final rule.