Not so fast……………

I kind of expected this – the earlier criteria seemed a bit vague.

WASHINGTON – The federal advisory policy committee on health IT sent its workgroup back to the drawing board on Tuesday with recommendations the workgroup had made earlier in the day to outline the criteria.

The HIT policy committee’s workgroup, composed of members of the private sector, government and nonprofit organizations, have been pulling together criteria for a meaningful use definition over the past month. The criteria were presented at a Tuesday meeting of the full policy committee for a vote of approval, with a public comment period open for the next 10 days.

After  a “lively discussion [on the criteria] and considerable input on meaningful use, we decided to send the workgroup back to work on another set,” David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, said during a media call.

The policy committee expects to receive a new set of recommendations from its workgroup at its July 16 meeting, Blumenthal told reporters on the conference call.

The policy committee still may  not be satisfied at the July 16 meeting, Blumenthal said.  He declined to say how long he thought it might take. He was not sure whether the committee would offer an additional comment period following the workgroup’s proposed revision of meaningful use criteria.

The ONC policy committee recommendations on meaningful use will not be binding, Blumenthal said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services will be the final word on meaningful use and how it applies to incentives for physicians and hospitals using healthcare IT under the Medicare and Medicaid program.

“It’s up to your readers on what to read into the discussions today on meaningful use,” Blumenthal said. However, the definition of meaningful use is likely to come in stages, year by year.

According to Tony Trenkle, director of the CMS Office of e-Health Standards and Services, CMS will consider the ONC policy committee recommendations when they are complete, to help its rulemaking process. CMS expects to have a proposed final rule on payment issues – including the definition of meaningful use – by the end of the year. A 60-day comment period will follow that proposal before CMS will issue a final rule.


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