Government // Leadership
Commentary
3/8/2010
12:15 PM
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Feds Still Seeking 'Meaningful' Feedback

Want to weigh in the federal government's proposed meaningful use criteria before it's written in stone? Act soon. There's only about a week left to submit your comments to the feds.

Want to weigh in the federal government's proposed meaningful use criteria before it's written in stone? Act soon. There's only about a week left to submit your comments to the feds.Public comments on the proposed rule covering the HITECH incentive programs and meaningful use requirements need to be submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by March 15.

After the public comment period closes next week, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services--specifically its Office of National Coordinator for Health IT team--will begin reading through the comments to see what suggestions make sense for the final rule.

At the Health Information Management Systems Society conference last week in Atlanta, Dr. David Blumenthal, who was appointed by President Obama last year as national health IT coordinator, said his office is anxious to sort through the feedback. "We need your advice," he told attendees during his keynote speech.

The goal for the rules is not to just help set standards related to health technology, but to eventually "get healthcare providers on an escalator for increasingly sophisticated uses of health IT," with meaningful use having a "direct link" to the health of patients and improved efficiencies.

Once the feds finish sifting through the feedback and making any subsequent changes, the final regulations will be published "by end of spring," said Blumenthal.

After that, Blumenthal's team will begin the hard work of implementing the meaningful use programs, as well as the rest of ONC's other HITECH programs, including those related health IT workforce training and health information exchanges. Upcoming work also includes developing metrics for all the HITECH programs and "the next iteration of meaningful use and certification" criteria moving forward.

"You can see why we need your help on so much," Blumenthal told the HIMSS crowd.

"The wind is at our back in so many ways," he said. "I can't imagine that in 10 years [health] information storage and retrieval will be the same as it was for Hippocrates."

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