HHS Meaningful Use Final Rule Draws Guarded Initial Praise

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , July 13, 2010

Kahn said it is "essential" that Congress clarifies the definition of an eligible hospital to put all hospitals on a level playing field for the distribution of incentive payments.

In addition, FAH wants HITECH incentive payments to recognize the continuum of patient care. "Congress should expand the legislation's reach to include post-acute hospitals and care," Kahn said. "Doing so is a step we must take to reap the full rewards that information technology can offer patients through improved care integration and coordination."

Christine Bechtel, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, a patients rights advocacy group, applauded the Obama Administration for "making some reasonable concessions but standing firm against industry pressure to gut the regulations."

"Providers who take federal aid will now, appropriately, be required to use IT in ways that improve outcomes for patients and support the caregivers who now struggle to coordinate care in our fragmented system," Bechtel said. "An end is finally in sight for the days when doctors have to sift through incomplete and incomprehensible hand-written medical records—when patients must tote test results from doctor to doctor—and when family caregivers spend endless time trying to coordinate medications and treatments for those who can't do so for themselves."

As HIT gathers momentum, Bechtel said regulations should be strengthened "so providers who violate privacy laws are ineligible for federal IT dollars, and so providers are required to give all patients timely access to their health information as well as to the kind of education resources that help improve their outcomes."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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