EHR Meaningful Use Should Be Much Simpler

I came across this blog post which had the actual definition of meaningful use as listed in the HITECH act itself. Check it out:

‘(2) MEANINGFUL EHR USER.— ‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—For purposes of paragraph (1), an eligible professional shall be treated as a meaningful EHR user for an EHR reporting period for a payment year (or, for purposes of subsection (a)(7), for an EHR reporting period under such subsection for a year) if each of the following requirements is met: ‘‘(i) MEANINGFUL USE OF CERTIFIED EHR TECHNOLOGY.—The eligible professional demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary, in accordance with subparagraph (C)(i), that during such period the profes- sional is using certified EHR technology in a meaning- ful manner, which shall include the use of electronic prescribing as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary. ‘‘(ii) INFORMATIONEXCHANGE.—The eligible profes- sional demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary, in accordance with subparagraph (C)(i), that during such period such certified EHR technology is connected in a manner that provides, in accordance with law and standards applicable to the exchange of information, for the electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of health care, such as pro- moting care coordination. ‘‘(iii) REPORTING ON MEASURES USINGE HR.—Subject to subparagraph (B)(ii) and using such certified EHR technology, the eligible professional submits information for such period, in a form and manner specified by the Secretary, on such clinical quality measures and such other measures as selected by the Secretary under subparagraph (B)(i).

Look at the definition. It defines a few simple things that should be required to show meaningful use:
* Electronic Prescribing
* Electronic Exchange of Health Information
* Reporting of Health Data

I’ve commented before that the meaningful use matrix was too much and this makes me wonder if HHS is being too ambitious as they look at this legislation. I think if the ARRA EHR stimulus money could achieve these three items it would be money well spent.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Not to worry! The apparent complexity represents nothing more than a normal progression by which high-level HIT policy, as outlined in the HITECH is slowly being “granularized” by ONCHIT’s HIT Policy Committee into criteria that can be used for results-oriented certification programs.

    In our view, happily, the language contained in the meaningful use matrix is actually easier to digest than the policy jargon contained in HITECH (as cited in your post).

    After reviewing the matrix, Practice Fusion is on record as providing unconditional support for the work of HHS, ONCHIT and its HIT Policy Committee so far, including the implementation time frames that others feel are too aggressive.

    The results-oriented approach, the focus on quality, population health and cost reductions seem spot-on to us. And there’s no reason to slow down the process.

    Glenn Laffel MD, PhD
    Sr. VP Clinical Affairs
    Practice Fusion
    Free Web-based EMR

  • Glenn,
    It is easier to digest. The challenge they’re going to have is finding good ways to measure and ensure that the criteria is actually met. It’s one thing to say that it should be done. Another to actually be able to measure it.

    That’s why I suggest keeping it simple and effective. I’d rather have 3 things that we know are being done well then 20 things for which we have no clue how people are doing with them.

  • The requirement of meaningful use is intended to make certain informational vectors and operational vectors part of the healthcare enterprise sufficient to move it from where it is to where we need it to go. In order to get there, the responsible thing to do is indicate the nature of the task in all the variety which must be present for it to be effective. In meeting this goal, the committee must choose carefully so as to indicate with clarity and fidelity what the nature of the change is and give people a practical sense of where that begins. The simplest approach that accomplishes that would be good, but simplicity is not, in and of itself, its goal.

  • Government work and simple have rarely gone hand in hand. I’m not arguing for simplicity for simplicities sake. I’m arguing that it should be simple and effective as opposed to complicated and ineffective. Certainly there’s a happy middle between the two that is the optimal place.

  • Healthcare reform is arguably more important to our national destiny than the A bomb was during World War II. Yes, it involves the usual sausage making of domestic politics, but, like a bomb, it needs to work. I don’t recall anyone thinking of Oppenheimer a bureaucrat. We owe the worthies who are trying to make sure reform works the courtesy of acknowledging them for what they are; accomplished professionals who signed on for a terribly difficult task with potential downside risk to their careers.

Click here to post a comment