First phase of 'meaningful use' likely to be basic

The 2011 criteria for "meaningful use" of EHRs are likely to be rather simple because the timeline for compliance is so short, but the standards will ratchet up significantly in later stages of the federal incentive program, a top health IT official said. The first year of the program, CMS will be looking for proof that you've installed a certified system and are actively using it.

"You have to be able to send data and CMS has to be able to receive it," Dr. David Hunt, chief medical officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said at a Boston meeting last week, Health Data Management reports. He said that this was something that healthcare providers "can achieve quickly and reasonably." However, Hunt hedged when asked if CMS will water down the recommendations of the advisory Health IT Policy Committee when the Medicare agency publishes its proposed standards at the end of the year.

What Hunt did say, though, is that 2011 represents the "structure" phase of meaningful use, while 2013 is the period of "process" and the most rigorous standards, those for 2015, aimed at "outcomes." The latter period, Hunt said, is when we will know if EHRs truly can improve the quality of care.

For further details about Hunt's remarks:
- read this Health Data Management story