“Meaningful Use.” If you’re involved with the Healthcare IT industry in some sort of way (which I’m guessing you are since you’re here), you’ve heard this term umpteen times in the past year. Actually I think the phrase “ad nauseam“ probably applies quite well in this case. I don’t know about you, but as much as I’ve wanted to keep up with the ins and outs of what exactly this term means to our industry’s workforce development (and it means EVERYTHING), although I grasped the initial concept (basically that hospitals and physicians must follow a very structured set of criteria to tap into some $27.3 billion in financial incentives authorized by the stimulus act), I soon found the absolute overload of information, opinions, and “expert” commentaries to be a bit confusing. No, that’s not strong enough – make that overwhelmingly and unnecessarily complicated and ridiculously confusing. And from the comments of my confused colleagues? I was not alone.
So why write about this now? Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released their hotly anticipated final regulation guidelines identifying the criteria for hospitals and eligible providers to become meaningful users of health information technology, and the certification criteria and standards for achieving meaningful use in order to qualify for incentive payments. These guidelines were revamped after taking into consideration the over 2000 publicly registered comments (be careful what you ask for!) on the initial pass, released back in January. And judging from the very clear, concise, and completely understandable overview published in today’s “New England Journal of Medicine,” the HHS listened to the cries of those of us who prefer our life-changing directives in plain English.
I highly recommend reading this overview article written by David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., and Marilyn Tavenner, R.N., M.H.A., to give you a clear understanding of what came before, and what’s to come. Bottom line? The timelines and regulations spelled out in today’s publication will require tens of thousands of Healthcare IT professionals to get the job done. And that’s exciting news that we all can understand!
Below is a super helpful graphic contained in the New England Journal of Medicine’s article. All rights to this graphic belong to the original publisher and I humbly steal borrow it for purposes of illustration (click on image once, then again, to enlarge):