First, let me welcome you to the HIMSS Blog that will include daily updates from HIMSS staff on issues and initiatives related to our efforts at HIMSS to improve patient care with health IT.
As many of you, I have reviewed with great interest the final rules for meaningful use and the initial set of standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for EHR technology that were officially published in the Federal Register on July 28.
I found this final iteration of the EHR certified technology guidelines for complete EHRs or EHR modules much more streamlined than I expected. (If you need background on this topic, go to the HIMSS review of this rule highlighting basic brief facts, including specific changes from the interim to final version.)
I see the EHR technology certification criteria as the pivot point of health IT implementation. While adoption of technology has not advanced as quickly as hoped, more hospitals now stand ready to meet the 2011 deadlines to achieve meaningful use. This is also an opportunity for ambulatory practice eligible providers to take advantage of the government incentive to adopt certified EHRs and to help provide safe and quality patient care.
I say this based on the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption ModelSM research that shows a 2% growth in hospitals reaching Stage 4 from the first to second quarter of this year. Using this evaluation tool, hospitals at Stage 4 are best positioned to meet the 2011 requirements based on the technology in place and thus, the ability to implement more advanced components.
I know it took sustained effort to define and balance these regulations. In fact, the federal government received more than 400 responses from HIMSS and other organizations before issuing the certification criteria for EHR technology regulations that support the Final Meaningful Use Stage 1 Objectives and Measures.
But, with meaningful use and certification criteria for EHR technology defined, we are approaching the tipping point of nationwide adoption of EHRs. Paper records became an outdated record keeping system lost in time and the technology of our lives. I want to avoid that same pitfall with the EHR.
And now a question for you…Are we complicating the EHR implementation road ahead with standards and implementation specifications that require more of a commodity, than complete, electronic health record system?