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Meaningful Use Has Arrived—and Our Guarantee Stands Strong

by Susan Harmon, Director of Government Affairs

In 864 breezy pages, “meaningful use” is here. We now know a lot more but the details are complicated.  One thing that hasn’t changed is the monetary incentive of up to $44,000 in Medicare funds or $63,750 from Medicaid for doctors who achieve meaningful use of an electronic health record (EHR).

athenahealth has been so confident that our EHR will get our clients these government stimulus payments, we have a standing HITECH Act Guarantee. That commitment hasn’t changed either.

But the final rules have been adjusted, as we learned today. For physicians—referred to in the final rule as “eligible providers” or “EPs”—there are 15 core requirements and an additional 10 discretionary requirements in what’s being called a “menu set.” Providers must select five requirements from the menu set.  Many of the measurement thresholds have been reduced. For example, CPOE (order entry) is now for medications only, and they can be entered by a licensed professional--not only physicians. 

In terms of the quality measures, there are only six required--three core, three alternate, and three discretionary.  Reporting of measures is by attestation only in 2011, and electronically starting in 2012, but the reporting requirements aren’t really clear yet.  The requirements align well with the PQRI measures. athenahealth is an approved PQRI registry, by the way.

To get the ball rolling, physicians can start their 90-day reporting period for use of a certified technology in January 2011, and can begin attestation in April of 2011.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start making payments in May of 2011.

We are currently digesting 864 pages of requirements released today and will break it all down for you in an upcoming free webinar on August 5th. Register here. In the meantime, for an overview of the HITECH Act and meaningful use, watch this video.

There are already some good resources on the web. John Halamka MD, who among other things is CIO of Harvard Medical School and a blogger, posted a helpful analysis. The New England Journal of Medicine also posted a good summary overview.

Stay tuned for more updates.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on meaningful use?

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