How Ready Are Hospitals for Meaningful Use?

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , January 12, 2010

Because those cultural and workflow changes are often time-consuming to implement, providers should stop waiting and get started now if they plan to capture the incentive payments and be deemed meaningful users of electronic health records. This advice is something that I have been hearing since the announcement of the HITECH Act. But most providers and vendors have been in a holding pattern waiting for the definition of meaningful use. Now it is here, but "the temptation might be to wait until the final, final rule is released," Drazen says.

There are steps that hospitals can take now regardless of the final, final rule, she says. For instance, organizations can start defining order sets, they can assign clinical leaders to work with the IT department, and they can push their vendor to get interim certification. "It has been available since October and very few vendors have done it, but if your vendor isn't going to be certified you won't qualify for meaningful use," she says.

Overall, there have been very few changes to the meaningful use criteria from the HIT Policy Committee's original recommendations, says Drazen. "It is highly unlikely there will be any significant changes, so stop waiting and start moving. At least assess where you are."

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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