Decision on 2011 lab standards postponed

Yesterday was supposed to be the day we moved closer to a final definition of "meaningful use" of EMRs. But the Health IT Policy Committee, meeting Wednesday in Washington, offered no guidance to HHS in this area and also, at the request of national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal, put off until January a decision on standards for exchanging laboratory test results.

In July, the HIT Policy Committee recommended that the 2011 standards for meaningful use require healthcare providers to adopt a single set of standards for two-way electronic communication with labs. In September, the Health IT Standards Committee proposed allowing temporary variations to national codes until 2013. Yesterday, the Policy Committee could not come to an agreement on this proposed exception, and Blumenthal asked both committees to reach a consensus by next month.

The Policy Committee did, however, recommend that Blumenthal's office develop implementation guides for providers to meet the lab-exchange standards and for vendors to incorporate them into new EMR products.

Despite the postponement, HHS officials still say they will publish proposed rules on meaningful use before the end of December.

For further details:
- read this Government Health IT story