The Big Wait

Boston had the big dig, New Orleans has the big easy, New York is the big apple, surfers have the big kahuna, but we have the big wait. Our wait is for the first of the final rules that will establish the foundation for all things EHR and the federal initiative for nation wide adoption. The three current rules have completed comment periods and are being processed for issuing their Final Rules.

In December of 2009 the CMS released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) outlining EHR incentive programs along with the definition of “meaningful use”. At the same time the ONC released an Interim Final Rule (IFR) for the adoption of an initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for electronic health record (EHR) technology. In March the ONC also released an NPRM proposing the establishment of certification programs for purposes of testing and certifying health information technology. The comment periods have ended and the agencies are perusing through thousands of the public’s submitted comments, concerns, and questions.

When will we see the Final Rules? What will they look like? Dr. Blumenthal says we will see them some time around the end of June. The general talk around town says we won’t see major changes from the interim and notices. There is still a lot of push back on the timeline and requirements. Blumenthal takes a longer term view of inevitable EHR adoption and they are just trying to speed it up. When it comes to the timeline and requirements, he says “we shouldn’t spend the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars for results that don’t meet the Congress’ standard, and that standard is meaningful use”.

For details and ONC insight read the one-on-one interview from Healthcare Informatics with the ONC Dr. David Blumenthal where he talks about the development and establishing the final rules post comment period.