HCPLive Network

Will the HITECH Act Incentives Convince You to Use an EHR?

So the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act has been approved; now what?

Well, for starters, healthcare professionals are seeking clarification on the two ambiguous words that have been thrown around an awful lot in HITECH conversation—“meaningful use.” Initial attempts to shape this term have resulted in the following criteria:

  • Use CPOE for all order types including medications
  • Implement drug-drug, drug-allergy and drug-formulary checks
  • Maintain an up-to-date problem list
  • Generate and transmit permissible prescriptions electronically
  • Maintain an active medication allergy list

Several more recommendations can be found at www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/meaningful_use-38487-1.html. Progress continues to be made, and physicians should be sure to access and bookmark www.meaningfuluse.org, where they’ll get the most recent news and articles related to the progression of this term.

In addition to the ongoing process of defining “meaningful use,” healthcare professionals will be happy to hear that EHR certification has become a bit easier, as the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) has recently unveiled three approaches to certification. Per CCHIT’s website, here are the three ways to become certified:

  • A rigorous certification for comprehensive EHR systems that significantly exceed minimum Federal standards requirements. This certification (EHR-C) would be targeted to the needs of providers who want maximal assurance of EHR capabilities and compliance.
  • A new, modular certification program for electronic prescribing, personal health records, registries, and other technologies. Focusing on basic compliance with Federal standards and security, the EHR-M program would be offered at lower cost, and could accommodate a wide variety of specialties, settings, and technologies. It would appeal to providers who prefer to combine technologies from multiple certified sources.
  • A simplified, low cost site-level certification. This program would enable providers who self-develop or assemble EHRs from noncertified sources to also qualify for the ARRA incentives.


A more in-depth explanation of the processes is explained in a slideshow provided by CCHIT, Town Call: New Paths to Certification Accelerating EHR adoption and  Meaningful use under ARRA.

Once you’ve been able to digest all the information that has come to light in past weeks, look to some of these HIT gurus for some context:

John Halamka’s blog at Geek Doctor
John Moore at Chilmark Research
The AMDIS Meaningful Use site
EMR and HIPAA



Will HITECH accelerate EHR adoption?

Will the “meaningful use” criteria (as they stand now) lead to the desired outcomes?

Will current approaches to EHR certification reward current vendors and technologies and stifle innovation?

What will happen if individual states follow suit, as projected in a new New Jersey bill that calls for all HIT used in the state to be CCHIT-certified?



Further Reading
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