Officials outline criteria for meaningful use

By Molly Merrill
12:59 PM

The use of CPOE, compliance with HIPAA and documentation of procedures are included among the government's criteria for "meaningful use" of healthcare IT announced today.

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal, MD, said Tuesday's HIT Policy Committee meeting on meaningful use of health information was the "beginning of a conversation that is going to last for some time."

The meeting was held to develop an ongoing process for the definition of meaningful use, said John Glaser, office of the National Coordinator and CIO of Partners Healthcare. "It will be an evolving idea," he said.

Blumenthal said that the meeting's goal was to focus on where we are going and how the definition is going to get us there in the given timeframe.  He said some of the tensions in defining meaningful use are in the pull of remaining "ambitious but implementable" and "simple but specific" enough to be meaningful.

Paul Tang, MD, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and co-chair of ONC, said other tensions include balancing the urgency of healthcare reform with feasibility issues such as the current capabilities of EHRs and being sensitive to small practices.

Tang and ONC co-chair Farzad Mostashari, New York City Health Department, outlined three parts of achieving meaningful use of health data including: data capture and sharing by 2011, advanced clinical processes by 2013. and improved outcomes by 2015.

Tang outlined the criteria for 2011 objectives and measures including:

  • Capturing data in coded format;
  • Documenting progress note for each encounter (outpatient only);
  • Using CPOE for all order types (using e-prescribing and drug and allergy checks;
  • Managing populations (generating list of patients by specific conditions and sending patient reminders):
  • Engaging patients and their families in their health (providing access to personal health information, educational resources and encounters of clinical summaries);
  • Improving care coordination (exchanging clinical info among providers and performing medication reconciliation);
  • Improving Population and Public Health (submitting electronic data to immunization registries, electronic labs to public health agencies, and electronic syndrome surveillance data to public health agencies); and
  • Complying with HIPAA Rules and state laws, and with fair data sharing practices set forth in the National Privacy and Security Framework.

Tang reiterated that the focus of meaningful use is on health outcomes not software. He said they are working towards a definition that includes reporting measures that are clinically derived and standardized.  

In looking towards 2015 he said that the definition will move from measuring performance to constantly improving outcomes.