According to recommendations from a large collaboration of organizations, the success of the new federal incentives program for health information technology (“HIT”) largely depends on a specific set of health improvement goals, a prioritized set of metrics, and the widespread participation of health care providers and patients.
Health care leaders from 56 different organizations filed a joint public comment on the program, which is part of the economic stimulus in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA”). The Markle Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings coordinated the collaborative comments on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.
The joint public comment recommends priorities to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), which will manage the new Medicare and Medicaid subsidies to doctors and hospitals for “meaningful use” of HIT starting in 2011.
The comment requests that HHS make clear a set of health improvement goals such as improving medication management and reducing readmissions to hospitals, so that everyone can contribute to these priorities.
Peter Basch, MD, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said: “As a practicing physician who has gone through the process of implementing health IT, I can say that it’s critical to set a bar that is ambitious but also achievable for the many diverse practices and hospitals that might participate in this program. We point out areas in which HHS can lower burdens on physicians without losing focus on the important goals of using health IT in ways that improve the patient’s experience and outcomes.”
Among other things, the collaborative letter stressed that the HIT program should encourage broad participation of providers by prioritizing the requirements necessary to receive payments and should enhance the ability of patients to obtain electronic copies of their health information.
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