HHS soon will issue guidance and specifications on the definition of “meaningful use” of health information technology, National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal said on Friday, CongressDaily reports (Noyes, CongressDaily, 5/8). “Meaningful use is very much on our mind,” he said, adding, “We hope to provide a direction and some specifications in the late spring, early summer” (Goldstein, “Health Blog,” Wall Street Journal, 5/8).
The recently enacted economic stimulus law included $17 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of health IT, such as electronic health records (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/8). Beginning in 2015, the law would levy penalties on those that have not yet installed EHR systems (CongressDaily, 5/8). “Those two words [meaningful use] are the key to success in health information technology policy over the next several years,” Blumenthal said during a media conference call (CQ HealthBeat, 5/8). He said that the effort to establish a national health IT system is “joined at the hip” with health care reform efforts in Congress (CongressDaily, 5/8).
Blumenthal on Friday also announced appointments to the two advisory committees — the Health IT Policy Committee and the Health IT Standards Committee — that were established under the stimulus law and are tasked with making recommendations to Blumenthal on a policy framework for the development and adoption of an interoperable health IT system. The two committees are scheduled to hold their first meetings this week.
Blumenthal did not specify if the Certification Commission for Healthcare IT, which was established under the George W. Bush administration and currently certifies EHR systems now available on the market, will retain its functions along with the two new advisory committees. “The certification process is under review,” Blumenthal said, adding, “There was a complicated committee structure in the past” (CQ HealthBeat, 5/8).