CMS issues 'meaningful use' regulations for EHRs

January 14, 2010

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) are seeking public comment on two regulations that lay a foundation for improving quality, efficiency, and safety through meaningful use of certified EHR technology, the agencies said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) are seeking public comment on two regulations that lay a foundation for improving quality, efficiency, and safety through meaningful use of certified EHR technology, the agencies said.

The long-awaited regulations are designed to help implement the EHR incentive programs enacted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

One regulation, issued by CMS, is a proposed rule that outlines proposed provisions governing the EHR incentive programs, including defining the central concept of "meaningful use" of EHR technology. A second, issued by ONC, is an interim final regulation that sets initial standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology.

"Widespread adoption of electronic health records holds great promise for improving health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety," said National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal, MD. "The Recovery Act’s financial incentives demonstrate Congress’ and the administration’s commitment to help providers adopt and make meaningful use of EHR technology so they can give better care, and their patients’ experience of care will improve.

"Over time, we believe the EHR incentive program under Medicare and Medicaid will accelerate and facilitate health information technology adoption by more individual providers and organizations throughout the health care system."

The proposed rule would define the term "meaningful EHR user" as an eligible professional or eligible hospital that, during the specified reporting period, demonstrates meaningful use of certified EHR technology in a form and manner consistent with certain objectives and measures presented in the regulation.

The interim final regulation calls for a standardization in the way in which EHR information is exchanged between organizations. It also outlines certified EHR technology criteria.

The CMS proposed rule can be viewed at www.cms.hhs.gov/Recovery/11_HealthIT.asp. The interim final regulation can be viewed at http://healthit.hhs.gov/standardsandcertification.