Much has been written about the definition of “Meaningful Use” (MU), the vague requirements for obtaining your piece of the $19 billion injection of funds into the healthcare IT industry. Various groups such as the ONC Workgroups, and published opinions of healthcare IT leaders have reviewed the text of the ARRA bill, and all have indicated that electronic prescribing (eprescribing) is a core component for the ARRA incentives.
In an Open Letter, Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology stated that he expects CMS to publish a formal definition of “Meaningful Use” by December 31, 2009.
This past July, the ONC workgroup produced its Meaningful Use Matrix, and submitted it for Blumenthal’s approval. This document focuses heavily on eprescribing, including drug interaction checking and medication reconciliation. It details electronic medication management techniques as 2011 objectives to “Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities.”
The text of ARRA itself, by singling out electronic prescribing, implies that eprescribing is the most important EHR component for MU qualification:
(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 professional is using certified EHR technology in a meaningful manner, which shall include the use of electronic prescribing as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary.
Because of this, organizations interested in qualifying for ARRA should take a long look at the eprescribing component of their current or future system, and make sure the selected system is widely recognized as a leader in the field to ensure compliance with the MU requirements.
Tom Sullivan, MD