Health IT group approves meaningful use' standards, quality measures

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The Health IT Standards Committee approved measures that healthcare providers must put in place by 2011 and delivered a roadmap for future work on July 21.

The committee recommended quality measures and standards that are ready and deployable to support the criteria for meaningful use, Jonathan Perlin, chief medical officer and president of clinical services at HCA Healthcare, and chair of the HIT Standards Committee told Government Health IT.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), providers will be eligible for increased Medicare and Medicaid payments if they can show they are meaningful users of certified health IT.

The standards committee identified those standards that align with meaningful use--as well as other statutory requirements of the stimulus--and are deployable by 2011 and beyond, said John Halamka, chair of the Health IT Standards Panel (HITSP).

A matrix of 27 quality measures and 12 standards capabilities endorsed by HITSP build on one another for improved patient outcomes. A number of the standards already exist or are ready to be deployed by 2011, while others for 2013 and 2015 need more work, Halamka said.

"We know the industry has to move, but the pace of change can only be so fast. Not only do we have to consider the goal but how to get there," Halamka said.

Providers already report many quality measures to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), such as the percentage of patients with controlled blood pressure, the percentage of claims submitted electronically and insurance eligibility checked electronically.

To report the quality measures, the group recommended that providers implement the 12 HITSP-endorsed standard capabilities, Government Health IT reported.

Providers who have not begun to adopt EHRs and other health IT standards may use unstructured data reporting mechanisms in 2011, such as documents in PDF format, but must be able to meet the structured data standard to report quality measures, Halamka said.

The committee also recommended that providers be fully compliant with the HIPAA privacy and security rule in 2011 as part of its definition of meaningful use.

David Blumenthal, MD, the national health IT coordinator, must craft an interim final rule on meaningful use criteria by December. CMS will issue a rule also in December defining meaningful use for the incentive program.