The widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) throughout the healthcare system received another boost last week when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its final criteria for the meaningful use of EHRs within the incentive program established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. After releasing preliminary meaningful use regulations back in January, the agency spent the past several months collecting the thoughts and opinions of anyone and everyone in healthcare who took the time to submit one. CMS has said these factored into the finished product quite heavily, so score one for transparency.

The final meaningful use regulations haven’t diminished the EHR incentive program’s impact on health plans, and its effect on health reform remains the same. If anything, they offer more flexibility than those proposed in January, which should increase EHR adoption within the plan’s first few years. The bottom line is that greater usage of EHRs will get electronic medical data flowing throughout the system. We’ll see more integration and sharing of information among payers, providers and even patients, which is a major step in the path to reform.

-Eric Demers

VP of Health and Life Sciences,MEDecision