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Final rule on meaningful use finally released

The main change from the initial proposal is that requirements have been split between a "core" group of required objectives and a "menu set" of procedures so clinics can get partial credit.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Less than three months before the start of fiscal 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finally released its final rule on "meaningful use," which will drive the health IT industry's installation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) under last year's HITECH Act.

(To the right, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius, from the department's Web site.)

The release was done at a Webcast and included Donald Berwick, now director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

A summary of the rule has also been published at the New England Journal of Medicine, but the main change from the initial proposal, released in December, is that requirements have been split between a "core" group of required objectives and a "menu set" of procedures so clinics can get partial credit.

The first vendor press release on the new rules came from Allscripts, whose CEO, Glen Tullman, was an Obama adviser on health care in 2008 and served on the advisory committee that helped come up with the rule. More reaction is expected to follow, and we will cover it at ZDNet.

Along with the meaningful use rule a final rule on certification of systems was also published. The companies which will do the certifying have yet to be chosen, after which vendors will have to line up to assure customers of stimulus cash.

Now that the rules for getting that cash are in place, vendors and customers are in a race against time. The first set of deadlines will be based on six months of use during fiscal 2011, which means software or gear needs to be in place by next April 1 to meet the deadline.

And we don't even know who will certify whether the gear meets requirements. But at least we know the rules under which both certification and use will be measured.

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