CMS Publishes HIT Meaningful Use Regulations

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Federal standards, released July 13, defining what constitutes the “meaningful use” of an electronic health record (EHR) will require Ohio physicians to evaluate and define how they will use these systems in their practice.  Meeting the meaningful use performance standards is an essential component of qualifying for financial incentives through Medicare and Medicaid.  

These new rules are the result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which created financial incentives through Medicare and Medicaid for medical practices that adopt an EHR system.  Through ARRA, Ohio was awarded $43 million for the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP), the non-profit entity designated last year by Gov. Ted Strickland, to lead the implementation of health information technology in the state. 

 OHIP is working with regional partners to help more than 6,000 primary care providers install EHRs to achieve meaninful use and connect to a statewide, secure health information exchange.  OHIP was formed, in part, because the problems associated with successfully selecting and implementing an EHR have served as a significant factor in limiting the growth of EHRs in Ohio and across the country.  

The meaningful use rules in conjunction with temporary certification rules released in June give final shape to the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs and clarify provisions.  For example:

  • Physicians will be required to register for participation in either the Medicare or the Medicaid incentive program.
  • Registration will start in January 2011 and will be available only online.
  • Staff may register physicians for the incentive programs, but only the physician can attest to achieving meaningful use.
  • Attestations of meeting meaningful use can be made by physicians as early as April 2011.  
  • Medicare EHR incentive payments will be made starting May 2011. 

Among the services, many of which are free, that OHIP and its regional extension center (REC) partners will offer include: 

  • Identify and address practice-specific technical and functional requirements that may serve as barriers to EHR adoption.
  • Assist practices in the selection and acquisition of a certified EHR.  OHIP has evaluated dozens of EHR systems and will release a list of recommended vendors, based on the assessment of how well it performs and how well it will help physicians meet identified criteria in order to qualify for federal financial incentives.
  • Help practices maximize benefits associated with the use of an EHR, including better patient care and improved financial performance; Access to low-cost loans to purchase an EHR.
  • Serve as liaison regarding technical assistance.
  • Provide medical practices access to low-cost loans to enable them to purchase an EHR.

The OOA is a founding partner of OHIP. 

More information is available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at (fact sheet) and (press release).

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