We have posted various responses to the Meaningful Use NPRM. Response highlights include:
- U.S. Senators: Meaningful Use Proposed Rules Unite Partisan Senators
- Various Healthcare Trade Groups: Meaningful Use & Healthcare Standards – Expressed Concerns on Proposed Rules
While most of the comments have been calling for a relaxation of the benchmarks in Stage 1 (see above), a group of consumer and employer organizations have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services urging Stage 1 requirements remain with the currently defined strength (as outlined in the preliminary rule).
The bottom line of the letter: You are on the right track; don’t slow the Meaningful Use requirements down.
The letter can be read in its entirety here. The participants in the letter are a unique mix from Walmart to AARP to the National Retail Foundation to the National Council of Jewish Women…
Two key quotes from the letter:
“A final rule that does not lay a clear path in the first year toward tangible improvements in quality and lay the foundation for the systemic changes necessary for reform could waste taxpayer dollars and not launch us on the needed course for the future.”
“The meaningful use incentive program is just that – an incentive program. It is not a mandate, and it does not constitute regulation of the health care industry. Providers who want to implement HIT on a different timeline and with their own resources can do so.”
The points are valid. If we really want to move health IT forward, then the foundation needs to be aggressive and strong. The program is not mandatory; there is a choice of when health care providers can begin, if at all. Essentially, the proposed rules are well-balanced and flexible.
Within the Meaningful Use NPRM, the letter highlights five essential elements which will “mostly likely” improve health outcomes and reduce costs:
- Collecting and reporting on care quality metrics are good; it is only way to improve care.
- Requiring patient electronic access to their information will lead to people taking better care of themselves.
- Computerized physician order entry – CPOE – is a critical capability to enable collecting quality measures and implementing clinical decision support.
- Including patient progress notes in the electronic records is a key enabler of patient safety.
- Added privacy and security requirements in health IT will increase patient trust in the systems.
With all the calls for slowing the Stage 1 requirements, it is refreshing to read a different perspective.
We posted a debate which poses the question: Is the driver of achieving HITECH’s objectives health IT or health IT users?
HITECH is centered on implementing health IT to improve patient care and reducing costs. The approach may be a “Field of Dreams” one – build IT and they will us IT. There are many examples of good technology driving people to be active users of it, and it then becomes a way of life (e.g., ATMs, Apple products). Will health IT be the same, or will users (physicians and clinicians) ultimately decide the fate of HITECH’s success?
This group is saying: Keep the benchmarks strong, so that healthcare technology shift our healthcare system into the modern age; it is the only way to gain quality improvements and affordability.
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