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July 14, 2010

Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records: Final Rules Issued


New Meaningful Use rules for electronic health records were just announced by the Secretary for Health and Human Services. The final modifications ease some of the requirements that the healthcare industry found objectionable, while still attempting to retain “the intent and structure of the incentive programs.” For example, under the rules proposed earlier in January, physicians needed to meet 25 requirements in their use of EHRs to earn bonus payments, while hospitals needed 23. The new rules mandate a smaller core group of requirements: 15 for physicians and 14 for hospitals. Providers must also choose 5 additional procedures from a list of 10. Also, the number of electronic prescriptions a doctor is required to make was reduced from 75 percent to 40 percent.
Other rule changes include: the addition of objectives for providing condition-specific patient education resources, and recording advance directives; defining a hospital-based eligible provider (EP) as one who performs substantially all of his or her services in an inpatient hospital setting or emergency room only; and the inclusion of critical access hospitals (CAHs) within the definition of acute care hospital for the purpose of incentive program eligibility under Medicaid.
Further requirements for meaningful use incentive payments will be phased in over a number of years, increasing standards for performance on IT and quality objectives. As much as $27 billion may be spent on incentive payments over the next ten years. Via Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
For more information, a recap of the final Meaningful Use Rules can be found online at the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ms. Graham is a writer and editor with a current focus on health and wellness. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda

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