To qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentives in the stimulus bill EHRs must demonstrate “meaningful use”.  As readers of these pages know, “meaningful use” has yet to be officially defined. One certain criterion is e-prescribing, as systems need to already have an e-prescribing function to qualify for current Medicare incentives.However beyond that, while there have been many suggestions and speculation, no final definition has been formulated.  Last week, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics , which reports to HSS, held meetings to help more clearly define “meaningful use” of EHRs. Among industry groups in attendance was the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, or CHIME.  CHIME has a membership of nearly 1500 CIOs across the U.S.

CHIME made the following recommendations for “meaningful use” at the hearings:

·         The use of quality metrics and outcomes regardless of technology in place

·         A phased approach that encourages early adoption without raising the bar too high too early

·         Looking into alternative connectivity methods in the short term and connection to a health information exchange over time

·         Brainstorming other ways to exchange health information besides the Continuity of Care Document

The American Medical Informatics Association was also in attendance.  AMIA made a blanket recommendation to the Committee that said “Any EHR used should be certified through a suitable process, but ‘meaningful use’ implies attention to how an EHR is implemented and used for patient care and health promotion”  AMIA did make some specific recommendations as follows:

  • “Meaningful use” Focuses on Process and Care Improvements over Time
  • Develop and Implement a Robust Definition and Application of “Meaningful Use”
  • EHRs Functionality and Capability
  • Establish Approaches to  and Measures of Meaningful Use

AMIA also went on record as saying  the organization believed that the money for EHRs and Healthcare IT in the Stimulus Bill represented a “valuable opportunity to improve care delivery and health outcomes.”