The ACP Advocate Blog

by Bob Doherty

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is what you do meaningful enough?

One doesn't usually look to the Federal Register to define meaning or purpose (philosophers, yes, but bureaucrats?), but yesterday, the federal government officially ruled on what constitutes "meaningful use" - for the purposes of distributing dollars to clinicians for electronic health records.

The Wall Street Journal's health blog has an excellent synopsis of the rule and the reaction from different interest groups and experts, and the New England Journal of Medicine has a very clear explanation and summary of its key elements by David Blumenthal, MD, FACP, the federal governmen'’s coordinator of health information technology.

Dr. Blumenthal writes that:

"The meaningful use rule strikes a balance between acknowledging the urgency of adopting EHRs to improve our health care system and recognizing the challenges that adoption will pose to health care providers. The regulation must be both ambitious and achievable. Like an escalator, [it] attempts to move the health system upward toward improved quality and effectiveness in health care. But the speed of ascent must be calibrated to reflect both the capacities of providers who face a multitude of real-world challenges and the maturity of the technology itself."

The final rule appears to offer substantially more flexibility and addresses many - but not all of the concerns - that ACP expressed about an earlier proposed rule.

The final rule has enormous stakes for internists and other clinicians, since it will largely determine who will be eligible for a piece (as much as $44,000 from Medicare or $63,750 from Medicaid, per clinician) of the $27 billion in recovery act dollars to be distributed to clinicians whose EHRs comply with the "meaningful use" requirements.

The final rule, though, wasn't the only big development yesterday on electronic health records. The American College of Physicians announced a new, free, online community, called AmericanEHR Partners, to help practices compare EHRs and learn about meaningful use. AmericanEHR Partners was founded by ACP and Cientis Technologies and currently includes eight participating professional societies and 16 participating vendors. ACP's announcement says that the AmericanEHR Partners site will help practices:

- Evaluate readiness to adopt an EHR and provide a list of recommended resources to help overcome identified challenges;
- View comprehensive EHR user ratings on different solutions (ratings are based on surveys of physicians conducted through their professional societies);
- Sort EHR solutions based on medical subspecialty and desired functionality; and
- Provide side-by-side comparisons of EHR systems.

The site also provides educational content though newsletters, podcasts, webinars, blogs, and more.

As a final rule, the "meaningful use" may be the federal government's definitive ruling on what you and your EHR will need to do to access federal dollars, but AmericanEHR Partners provides the practical roadmap, from an unbiased and trusted source, on selecting an EHR that best meets your needs and also satisfies the government's requirements.

Today's questions: What is your reaction to the meaningful use rule? And to ACP's announcement of the AmericanEHR Partners site?


Blogger ryanjo said...

Despite involvement with national medical IT initiatives by both the Bush & Obama administrations, Blumenthal and his proteges have failed to set standards that network diverse EHR offerings, and (looking at EHR adoption rates) have not convinced most physicians that EHRs will improve health care quality or reduce costs.

Moreover, the complex requirements of "meaningful use" mainly serve the EHR companies (who, not surprisingly, had a hand in developing the rule), by scaring doctors into buying extra assistance and complex EHRs which purport to meet the criteria.

With his ridiculous statement that failing to jump on the EHR bus is "unethical", Blumenthal holds the stick close, but the carrot just out of reach.

ACP's response to the final rule? Again, feeble and reminiscent of the PPACA endorsement: "Well, we got part of what we wanted." The ACP membership can only dream for a tough approach by our leadership to government meddling in medicine. Consider the victory by the National Automobile Dealers Association, successfully avoiding new government restrictions for auto transactions in the financial reform bill. Whatever your opinion on this outcome, their leadership got the job done for their members...and ours didn't.

July 17, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

About the Author

Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog

Email Bob Doherty:


Bookmark and Share

The ACP Advocate Blog


The 2009 Medical Blog Awards
Voted Best Health Policy/Ethics Blog 2009

Healthcare Bloggers
10 Healthcare Bloggers We're Thankful For

Blog log

Health Blog
The Wall Street Journal's blog on health and the business of health.

Health Affairs Magazine Blog
The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere.

The Health Care Blog
Everything you always wanted to know about the Health Care system. But were afraid to ask.

MD Whistleblower
Vignettes and commentaries on the medical profession.

The New Health Dialogue Blog
From the New America Foundation.

Kevin MD
Medical Weblog

DB's Medical Rants
Contemplating medicine and the health care system

EGMN Notes From The Road
Bloggers post from medical meetings, press conferences, and policy gatherings from the U.S. and around the world, providing readers with a tasty analysis of the buzz, the people, and the stories that don't get told.

FutureDocs Blog
A blog dedicated to medical education, news, and policy as well as career advising.

Disease Management Care Blog
An ongoing resource for information, insights, peer-review literature and musings from the world of disease management, the medical home, the chronic care model, the patient centered medical home, informatics, pay for performance, primary care, chronic illness and health insurance.

Medical Professionalism Blog
The Medical Professionalism Blog was created by the ABIM Foundation to stimulate conversation and highlight best practices related to professionalism in medicine.

Powered by Blogger

Comment policy & copyright info