The good news is that the government has released the proposed regulations on meaningful use and interim final rule setting forth the standards and certification criteria for EHR technology. The bad news is that these tomes combined are 692 pages. CMS has issued fact sheets summarizing the regulations, including an overview of the phased-in approach to the criteria that will be applied to define "meaningful use." Dr. David Blumethal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, wrote a guest column for the Wisconsin Technology Network stating that "Great care was taken in the development of these criteria." Nevertheless, one can't help but to wonder - if it takes over 500 pages to explain meaningful use . . . where are we headed? The public comment period will last for 60 days, that is, if you can finish reading the proposed regulations by then!
According to a new survey of healthcare IT practitioners, healthcare organizations are not adequately protecting confidential patient information. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said that their organizations do not have the resources to fully comply with the federal privacy regulations. The survey results aren't entirely surprising considering the fact that organizations are struggling to comply with HITECH and make the transition to EHR. What is surprising, however, is that 70% of the respondents believe that senior management does not consider patient privacy a priority. The OCR has quite clearly stated that it intends to increase enforcement and not making protection of patient privacy a priority could be a costly decision.