HIMSS Publishes Its Definitions of 'Meaningful Use'

CHICAGO (April 27, 2009) - On Monday, April 27, HIMSS published its definitions of ‘meaningful use of certified EHR technologies,' as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). HIMSS sent a cover letter, plus two definitions: 1) meaningful users of certified EHR technologies and 2) meaningful use for hospitals, to the National Coordinator of Health IT and the Acting CMS Commissioner, within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

ARRA calls for multiple years of Medicare incentive payments to hospitals and physicians who meet the requirements of "meaningful use of certified EHR technology" (an electronic health record). To be eligible for the incentive payments, hospitals and physicians must use the technology in a meaningful manner; to exchange electronic health information to improve the quality of care; and, submit clinical quality measures - and other measures - as selected by the Secretary of HHS. Further, hospitals and physicians must meet the definition within a specified time frame, which as described in ARRA, must be made increasingly stringent over time by the Secretary.

Approved by the HIMSS Board of Directors, the definitions resulted from consensus-building effort with input from HIMSS members (73 percent of which work in end-user settings), and the public at-large.  HIMSS represents more than 20,000 individual members and 350 corporate members.

In summary, HIMSS recommends the following:

  1. To ensure continuity, recognize CCHIT as the certifying body of EHRs.
  2. To achieve incremental maturation of "meaningful use," adopt metrics that can be reasonably captured and reported beginning in FY11/2011,* and then made increasingly stringent using intervals of not less than two years.  HIMSS' definitions include specific metrics to enact, in phases, over a multi-year period.
  3. To bridge existing gaps in interoperability of health information, coordinate with HITSP and IHE to create new harmonized standards and implementation guides.
  4. Reconcile the gap between "certified EHR technologies," "best of breed," and "open source" technologies.

As noted in the letter, HIMSS believes that the Act has tremendous potential to improve the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of patient care.

*ARRA requires the hospital-focused definition to be effective FY11 (October 1, 2010).  For meaningful users (physicians), the definition must be effective January1, 2011.

About HIMSS
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is the healthcare industry's membership organization exclusively focused on providing global leadership for the optimal use of healthcare information technology (IT) and management systems for the betterment of healthcare. Founded in 1961 with offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., Brussels, Singapore, and other locations across the United States and the globe, HIMSS represents more than 20,000 individual members and over 350 corporate members that collectively represent organizations employing millions of people. HIMSS frames and leads healthcare public policy and industry practices through its advocacy, educational and professional development initiatives designed to promote information and management systems' contributions to ensuring quality patient care.

For more information, contact:
Joyce Lofstrom/HIMSS
312-915-9237 - [email protected]

Suggested Articles

The profit margins and management of Community Health Group raise questions about oversight of managed care insurers.

Financial experts are warning practices about the pitfalls of promoting medical credit cards to their patients.

A proposed rule issued by HHS on Tuesday would expand short-term coverage, a move Seema Verma said will have "virtually no impact" on ACA premiums.