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Interoperability knowledge hub

Get everything you need to know about interoperability in healthcare and what it means for hospitals and providers today.

Government Programs

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, established The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, commonly called the Meaningful Use (MU) program. This program mandates "the use of certified EHR technology to achieve health and efficiency goals"8 within a specific timeline, broken into three stages. The first stage, which had deadlines set from 2011 to 2012, involved building systems to capture patient information electronically and share that information in order to coordinate care. Other specifications for Stage 1 included using a patient's EHR to monitor a patient's clinical profile, reporting quality care measures and reportable public health information, and using the information to involve patients and family members in their care. Stage 2 of the MU program, with an initial deadline in 2014, involved conducting a more robust health information exchange (HIE) and the interoperability of health information systems, incorporating more electronic prescribing practices and lab results, transmission of the patient's medical record across different settings, and involving the patient in contributing to his or her patient record. Stage 3 of MU, required for all providers by 2018, focuses on improving health outcomes for patients through improved EHR practices, supporting clinical decision making about high-priority national conditions and promoting public health, ensuring patient access to self-care tools, and ensuring access to comprehensive patient information through health information exchanges (HIEs).9  

HITECH also established penalties, which reduce reimbursement rates and dock pay for non-participants. And these penalties are already underway, beginning in 2015. Many physician groups are calling for extending the deadline. The American Medical Association points to a decline in physician participation in MU from 54% of participation at Stage 1 to 10% participation at Stage 2 as an indication that the MU standards at these stages are too high.10


8 https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/ehr-implementation-steps/step-5-achieve-meaningful-use

9 https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/how-attain-meaningful-use

10 http://breaktheredtape.org/ehr-design-mismatch

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