HIMSS publishes 'meaningful use' definitions

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has published two definitions of "meaningful use" as it applies to certified electronic health record technologies and hospital's use.

HIMSS officials announced the definitions Tuesday as the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics Executive Subcommittee began hearings to define "meaningful use."

According to HIMSS officials, EHR technology is "meaningful" when it has capabilities including  e-prescribing, exchanging electronic health information to improve the quality of care, having the capacity to provide clinical decision support to support practitioner order entry and submitting clinical quality measures - and other measures - as selected by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Officials say physicians must meet the definition within a specified time frame, which as described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In order for hospitals to have a reasonable chance of achieving the definition, HIMSS officials say the requirements must be introduced in incremental stages.  In order for hospitals to meet each stage, milestones must be achieved in phases of not less than two years each, commencing in FY11. In the final phase, which must commence in FY15, HIMSS officials believe the mature definition of "meaningful use of certified EHR technology" includes at least four attributes:

  1. A functional EHR certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT);
  2. Electronic exchange of standardized patient data with clinical and administrative stakeholders using the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel's (HITSP) interoperability specifications and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise's (IHE) frameworks;
  3. Clinical decision support providing clinicians with clinical knowledge and intelligently-filtered patient information to enhance patient care; and
  4. Capabilities to support process and care measurement that drive improvements in patient safety, quality outcomes and cost reductions.

HIMSS officials have urged that CCHIT be named as the certifying body for EHR technology.

HIMSS developed its recommendation by drawing up an initial draft of meaningful users of certified EHR technologies in March. The draft was publicly posted with a discussion forum for a three-week period commencing April 1, 2009. The draft was then reviewed by the HIMSS membership community, which consists of more than 3,000 volunteers organized into nearly 80 groups.