What everyone's saying about the meaningful use requirements

Everyone and their mother has an opinion—or at least a comment—about the final “meaningful use” requirements for electronic medical records announced yesterday. (Actually, your mother probably has an opinion, too, so go ahead and call her—she worries.)

For those of you who were out yesterday—or busy tracking the FDA’s Avandia meeting—here’s the cheat sheet: The stimulus package passed last year included up to $27 billion in incentives for hospitals and doctors’ offices to digitize their medical practices and procedures. Those incentives will be given out by CMS in three waves, and these final requirements are what providers will have to meet—demonstrating what the government considers “meaningful use” of e-records—in order to qualify for the first round of incentives in 2011-12.

Here’s a roundup of some of the reaction to the new rules, which loosened the requirements somewhat from the draft version:

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American Hospital Association: The group also says even the looser requirements may make it tough for hospitals to qualify. It criticizes the individual hospital requirement, and says that “the rule requires hospitals to immediately use Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE),” which it calls complicated, costly and time-consuming.

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Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, Calif.: CEO Paul Hensler tells the Health Blog he’s “pleasantly surprised” by the more flexible approach. “It really lets each hospital customize its approach according to its needs and abilities,” he says. This will likely help hospitals with the capital to invest to focus on and implement a smaller set of requirements in order to qualify for incentives.

Deloitte Consulting: Mitch Morris, national leader of health IT, notes in an e-mail that he was surprised that there’s no word yet on when the third stage of requirements will be announced. (The next wave of stage 2 requirements will be announced in late 2011.)

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Reid Conant, emergency physician, Tri-City Medical Center, Oceanside, Calif.: Conant, chief medical informatics officer for his med center’s emergency group, wishes there had been a requirement that detailed physician notes be part of a patient’s electronic medical records. Without such a physician narrative requirement, he fears the records will “be reduced to point-and-click documents” that don’t distinguish between patients.

Click on WSJ:Hobson/Meaningful Use response to see what the other industry experts Hobson interveiwed had to say about meaningful use.