Health Policy

‘Meaningful Use’ of e-Health under discussion

Health care reforms have been the talk of the town lately and some big progress is being made on the healthcare IT front. The criteria on which healthcare providers must meet to qualify for more than $20 billion of stimulus rewards for using e-health systems, is under discussions by the policy group advising the U.S. health department, has completed an important chunk of its work. A consensus was reached by the Health Information Technology Policy Committee on the ‘meaningful use’ definition it recommends used to set requirements for what healthcare providers will need to do with their e-health systems, such as electronic health records, in order to qualify for government financial incentives starting in 2011.

Out of the two panels, the HIT Policy Committee is advising President Obama’s health IT czar, David Blumenthal, and U.S. secretary of health Kathy Sebelius on national goals and details related to health IT adoption programs. The biggest health IT program of course is the US$20-plus billion HITECH portions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law in February. One of the biggest changes is in computerized physician order entry requirements. Earlier recommendations had required all doctor orders, like drugs, to happen via CPOE by 2011. But the new requirements have hospitals needing to generate 10% of their orders through CPOE by 2011. it is hoped that the healthcare providers who are just starting up with these technologies will get some help with the new relaxed timeline, especially considering it’ll take a year or more to get many of these systems implemented.

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