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The push to make meaningful use meaningless

If the definitions are watered down almost anything could be justified for HITECH subsidy, yet nothing would be required to work.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Having apparently failed to make CCHIT certification the definition of meaningful use, vendors and large users are now pushing NCHIT David Blumenthal to make the term meaningless.

Blumenthal asked his advisory committee to revise their recommendations as soon as they were received last month, and those changes are due for discussion on Thursday.

An example of what is happening is the letter sent by the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems to Blumenthal, dated June 26. (This image of Uncle Sam, first published July 6, 1916, may indeed be the most famous poster in the world.)

See it through the patient's eyes, the group asked. Patients will only use EHR systems deemed "safe and effective" by a trusted authority, which some see as a call to revisit the denial of CCHIT's final authority over the rules.

The letter went on to ask that 2011 standards be sharply focused on data capture and sharing, and that the 2013 deadline for using Computerized Physician Order Entry be deferred.

The problem is that if the definitions are watered down almost anything could be justified for HITECH subsidy, yet nothing would be required to work.

Local reporters like Jason Roberson of The Dallas Morning News have found greater support for regional health information exchanges than for any mandates on individual hospitals or providers.

Over at The Health Care Blog, Rick Weinhaus finds this trend disquieting.

The national HIT Policy Committee needs to keep EHR certification rules simple and focused on standards for data, interoperability, and privacy. Keeping certification rules simple will allow physicians and hospitals to select well-designed, user-friendly EHR software that can be used meaningfully from the start.

If the call to water down meaningful use is an attempt to get CCHIT in through the back door, Thursday's meeting needs to slap that down hard.

Patients need automation to limit mistakes, and to get the feedback of other doctors' experience before decisions on tests and treatments are made. They don't care whose name is on the box, or whether four out of five dentists surveyed recommend it.

They simply want the service, and the committee should stay focused on that.

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