ONC Releases “Meaningful Use” Draft Definition
ONC released a draft definition for the “meaningful use” of EHRs today, prepared by a workgroup of the Health IT Policy Committee.
The definition will in part determine which providers are eligible to receive incentive payments for the use of health IT under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Providers who are “meaningful users” of health IT can receive up to $44,000 in increased Medicare and Medicaid payments over five years.
Public comments are due June 26.
The proposed definition features a series of evolving objectives and measures for 2011, 2013, and 2015. The objectives are keyed to five healthcare outcomes policy priorities identified in a 2008 report from the National Priorities Partnership, convened by the National Quality Forum.
The workgroup recommends meaningful use support the following five goals:
- Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
- Engage patients and families
- Improve care coordination
- Improve population and public health
- Ensure adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information
The policy committee workgroup highlights several aspects of the proposal for feedback in particular. In a preamble to the draft, it writes:
“We seek specific stakeholder feedback on whether the recommended timeline of requirements is overly aggressive based on the current state of technology and the demands on new provider workflows, or not challenging enough to result in significant transformation, in light of the declining level of Medicare incentives in future years.”
The draft recommends that the definition of meaningful use vary by setting. Thus “some features and capabilities will be recommended as required in an ambulatory setting before similar functions are expected to be widely used in the hospital.”
The group also singles out measures reporting for feedback, noting that there are currently “considerable gaps in EHR-generated measures available to monitor key desired policy outcomes.”
The workgroup’s proposal will not be the final word on meaningful use. In fact, it won’t be its own final word—the group has already been asked to present revisions at the full committee’s next meeting on July 16. Ultimately ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will weigh a range of input and develop a proposed rule later this year. That proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days.
updated June 17