"Meaningful Use" Goals Still Out of Reach

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , July 21, 2009

Personal health records. The 2011 recommendations call for physicians and hospitals to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information, including lab results, problem lists, medication lists, and allergies upon request (hospitals must also provide discharge summary and procedures). By 2013 physicians must provide patients access to a PHR populated in real time with health data. Whereas, hospitals must provide patients access to a PHR populated with patient health data in real time by 2013. Again the issue is culture, says Haughom. The penetration of PHRs nationally is not very high. Neither group—physicians and patients—are adopting personal health records very fast. Haughom suggests that leading with a patient portal may be a good first step.

One element that both physicians and hospitals are happy about is the revised timeline, which gives them more time to meet the EHR "meaningful use" criteria. If providers want to receive full reimbursement, they need to have systems in place in the first two years of the program. However, if providers can't start adopting IT until 2013 or 2014, they are eligible for less incentive money, but have the opportunity to participate in the program. Their first adoption year will still be considered 2011, regardless when the provider comes in to the program through 2014.

Haughom doesn't think his organization will have difficulty meeting the criteria as it is currently outlined; however, he's concerned that the bar is still too high for other providers and the impact that it may have on the overall success of the HITECH Act.

"My desire is to move healthcare forward broadly nationally and I think [the objectives] are too stretched to make it realistic."

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at cvaughan@healthleadersmedia.com.

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