Private Sector Shows Support for Meaningful Use

By David Blumenthal, MD
08:59 AM
Share

Health IT is a team effort. The whole point is to increase communication and coordination among the different players in the health care system. You just can’t go it alone in this field.

The good news is that, when you have a solid plan and a worthy objective, lots of talented people want to join the team and contribute to the effort.

<a href="/directory/health-information-technology-economic-and-clinical-health-hitech-act" target="_blank" class="directory-item-link">The HITECH Act</a> got the ball rolling. But government can only take this so far by itself. To provide real momentum for the widespread adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records, the private sector has to be there to push it along.

Now that the Department of Health and Human Services has announced final rules for meaningful use of electronic health records, we have a framework that will enable action by players across the board—in both the private and public sectors.

Some of those players announced their action plans yesterday—putting their weight behind the meaningful use goals and pledging to work together.

At a recent meeting on Advancing EHR Adoption and Meaningful Use sponsored by Health Affairs and Brandeis University’s Health Industry Forum at the National Press Club, payers, providers, and certification and licensing boards came together to announce early plans for supporting rapid adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records.

  • Payers (Aetna, Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Health Group, and Wellpoint) announced plans for incentive programs that will work in parallel with the CMS program and utilize the meaningful use objectives.
  • Leading provider groups (the Christiana Care Health System, Partners HealthCare, and ThedaCare) announced training and requirements for clinicians.
  • And, perhaps most significantly, certification and licensure bodies (the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Board of Medical Specialties) announced steps for assisting and encouraging physicians in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records, with the ultimate goal that their use will become an element of professional certification.

With the meaningful use goals as their framework, these representatives of the private sector are formulating a strategy for the transformation of health care in our country through the use of health IT. These are indeed significant and encouraging first steps, occurring a mere three weeks after announcement of the final phase 1 meaningful use rules. We applaud their efforts and we look forward to more payers, providers, and others in both the public and private sectors joining the team to move together towards our common goal.

 

David Blumenthal, MD blogs regularly at Health IT Buzz.