We have a working definition, so no more excuses

This might be it, the time when the marathon turns into a sprint, or at least a middle-distance race.

The federal Health IT Policy Committee, chaired by National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. David Blumenthal, has put out its revised plan to define "meaningful use" of EMRs, as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The panel apparently listened to the myriad comments it received on its previous plan and made some important changes.

It specified 28 objectives for what an EMR should help clinicians accomplish. It eased the tight timeline for compliance by allowing first-time recipients of subsidies to apply the 2011 criteria as late as 2014, even if HHS later toughens requirements. And it officially put the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information on notice that there might soon be some competition in the certification arena.

Granted, these are not final rules; HHS doesn't have to issue those until the end of the year. But at least we now have a good idea what the actual technical requirements will be. That, supposedly, was what the health IT industry, and hundreds of thousands of potential customers, were waiting for.

So, now that that ship has seemingly sailed, it's time to stop procrastinating and start acting. - Neil