Standards for Meaningful Use of EHR Still in the Development Process

July 1, 2009

The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology plans to “harmonize” the standards of certified electronic health records and meaningful use through the National Health Information Network (NHIN), according to a new report.

HHS National Coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal was charged with the responsibility of putting together meaningful use standards under the economic stimulus law. According to Blumenthal, one of the criteria for meaningful use is sharing patient data within a health information exchange system, which would most likely be the NHIN.

Blumenthal’s office is working on standards and technical requirements for meaningful use, which provides financial incentives for doctors and hospitals who “meaningfully use” EHR. Although the federal government has not specifically defined meaningful use at this time, Blumenthal stated that “the criteria likely will require health care providers to share patient data with a health information exchange such as NHIN.”

“Given the federal investment in health IT, and the definition of meaningful use, it is clear there is a vibrant future for the NHIN,” Blumenthal said. “Our hope is that it will support health information exchange and meaningful use at the federal, state and local levels.”

Blumenthal, who became the national health IT coordinator in March, discussed these plans “during a seminar on NHIN and the Connect gateway, a set of open-source tools that allow organizations to access NHIN services” on June 29, according to an article from iHealthBeat.

Aneesh Chopra, CTO of the Obama administration, also appeared at the conference, encouraging providers “to consider their broadband needs in health information exchange and to partner with the Obama administration’s efforts to expand broadband services under the economic stimulus law.”

Chopra, who was once the CTO of Virginia, also encouraged providers to ensure that, “when the time comes for exchanging data, they are not left out of broadband infrastructures.”

“Make sure health care is a part of broadband,” Chopra said

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