eHealth Initiative Calls for Greater Focus on Health Information Exchange in Meaningful Use

March 1, 2011, WASHINGTON, D.C. – The eHealth Initiative submitted comments on Stage 2 Meaningful Use objectives Feb. 25 to the Office of the National Coordinator’s HIT Policy Committee, calling for an increased focus on health information exchange and a coordinated timeline for the rollout of Stage 2.

“The eHealth Initiative supports efforts that ensure that Stage 2 achieves its intended goals of acting as a stepping stone to subsequent stages of Meaningful Use and supports health information exchange,” said Jennifer Covich Bordenick, Chief Executive Officer of the eHealth Initiative. “Together these actions will result in a connected system of health that delivers optimal care in a cost-effective way and does so in an increasing patient-centered manner.”

eHI supports the ability of eligible providers and hospitals to meet the Meaningful Use requirements through the use of HIE, yet Stage 2 requirements remain focused on electronic health records and do not allow providers enough room to utilize HIE as a means to meet Meaningful Use requirements.

“As a start, we believe that Stage 2 should require that an achievable percentage of the requirement for provision of a summary of care record be accomplished through electronic transmission,” said Covich Bordenick. “Use of health information exchange should be encouraged throughout Stage 2 as an option for increasing electronic communication with patients and their families.”

In its comments, eHI also urged the ONC to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to develop a statement of guidance resolving the issue ofinconsistent timelines separating the Stage 2 regulatory process and the start of Stage 2 for providers and hospitals.

“Greater clarity from the ONC and CMS on Stage 2 timelines will encourage greater incentive program participation and increase the likelihood of achievement of program goals,” noted Covich Bordenick.

eHI also urged the HIT Policy Committee to clarify or provide definitions for a number of requirements and phrases in the proposed Stage 2 objectives, including online secure messaging, active patients, and longitudinal care plan.

“We urge the ONC to pursue clarity, simplicity and feasibility as it develops new definitions and requirements,” said Covich Bordenick. “We need to move ahead with an eye on the future, but any new or revised objectives should be created after a careful examination of the lessons learned from Stage 1 of Meaningful Use.”

About the eHealth Initiative: The eHealth Initiative (eHI) is a Washington D.C.-based, independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to drive improvements in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through information and information technology.  Working with its 210 member organizations, eHI works to create a world where consumers, health care providers, and those responsible for population health will have ready access to timely, relevant, reliable and secure information and services through an interconnected, electronic health information infrastructure to support better health and healthcare