Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
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The final rule was fair compromise to the goals being sought by the U.S. government in the mass adoption of health IT by U.S. healthcare providers, and those providers' realistic ability to get the work done within the timeframe of the HITECH Act, which in addition to awarding financial incentives for "meaningful use" beginning in 2011, also enacts financially penalties for non-compliance beginning in 2015.
"Overall this final rule maintains a balance between the policy objectives sought and the technology changes possible that are achievable now," said John Halamka, who wears dual hats as the CIO of Harvard Medical School and Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
"There will still be 3 stages of meaningful use and later stages will be more demanding. All the original stage 1 requirements will still be part of meaningful use by stage 2," said Halamka, who is also vice chair of the HIT Standards Committee that advised the Office of National Coordinator during the meaningful use rulemaking period.
"The final rule means Meaningful Use will be achievable by many," Halamka wrote in a posting of his blog.
While the final MU criteria is still being digested and analyzed, and has so far received mostly positively reviews, not all healthcare stakeholders are pleased by the contents of the final regulations.
"The feds gave the health IT industry what they demanded, a few quality, reporting, and data exchange requirements but watered down or eliminated all the new patient protections required in HITECH –like the requirement to give patients an accounting of all disclosures of personal health information for three years," said Dr. Deborah Peel, founder and chair of Patient Privacy Rights, a patient advocacy organization in an email interview with InformationWeek.
"Patients should be able to share information selectively with specific people they trust and prevent data flow to the secret health data mining industries, such as health IT vendors, insurers, data aggregators, big pharma, etc," she said.
"Patients should be able to set advance directives for all routine sharing they want –like send a copy of every health visit and all treatment to my family doc, but send changes in meds and allergies to my allergist and dentist," she said.