The Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society's first reaction on the meaningful use rules is considerably kinder than those of some provider organizations, particularly the American Hospital Association and the Medical Group Management Association.
Chicago-based HIMSS represents thousands of providers, but also has a strong vendor contingent among its membership. Following is a statement from H. Stephen Lieber, president and CEO at HIMSS:
"The goals of President Obama's Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) provisions included improvement in the quality and efficacy of health care delivered to Americans. The release on December 30th of interim final rules on meaningful use and qualified electronic health records begin us down the path to achieve those goals, goals that HIMSS has long supported.
"With publication of the proposed regulations, eligible providers and hospitals now have specific guidelines to follow to earn their incentive payments from Medicare or Medicaid. It is important to recognize, as noted on the recent call conducted by ONC National Coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal, these are proposed regulations. Thus, all of us have time to review and offer suggestions, revisions and overall commentary. So, with that in mind, we look forward to reviewing these drafts to provide both analyses for our members and public comment responses for the federal government.
"On first read of the proposed regulations, HIMSS believes that there is much more to applaud than criticize. We now have clarity of what technology functions constitute a qualified electronic health record; we now have a multi-year road map of future expectations; and we have certainty about many of the standards necessary to support practitioners' ability to improve patient care.
"ONC, respecting the need for natural market forces to work has, in some cases, refrained from establishing single standards, even in places where the Office acknowledges that a single standard should be established. Such restraint will have ramifications for healthcare, as will the necessary establishment of initial provider performance requirements that will ultimately drive quality improvements. We have much work to do within healthcare regarding simple adoption, well before we can achieve meaningful use of the IT. This foundational work - while required - will likely result in provider uncertainty about which IT products to adopt, costs through adoption of ever-maturing IT over time, higher costs associated with a need to support multiple standards, and somewhat delayed improvements in patient outcomes and costs."
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