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CIOs: Meaningful use final rule will qualify more for incentives

Like all stakeholders in the health care world who are rolling out or upgrading electronic health record (EHR) systems, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is still parsing the 1,100 pages of meaningful use final rules and accompanying standards issued last week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology.

But the 1,400-member group saw enough to issue an early response to the rules — and the implications for hospitals and ambulatory physician practices that are building compliance programs for their EHR systems based on the complex regulations.

On balance, they liked what they saw — especially the relaxed rules that, they feel, will qualify more health care providers for federal incentives to fund EHR implementations. Adding EHR to emergency departments, too, was a plus, they feel, because ED patients often become inpatients at hospitals. Giving EDs access to existing electronic records — or the ability to originate them when needed — will positively affect the quality of care, in CHIME’s view.

A few parts, in their view, need more work. In particular, CHIME said that CMS still needs to clarify some aspects of the final rule, including whether use of computerized physician order entry by a range of medical professionals will enable providers to meet the objective for CPOE usage.

CMS requires health care providers to report results based on quality metrics in the meaningful use rules. CHIME applauded the reduction of reporting requirements in the early stages of meaningful use adoption, but worries that reporting and other requirements in the final stages will be roadblocks to incentive awards.

“CHIME is predicting many hospitals will have a difficult time qualifying for stimulus funding in subsequent stages of the incentive program, as meaningful use objectives increase in number and become harder to meet, and as other aspects of the stimulus program become more challenging,” according to a press release.

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