The health IT industry was abuzz last week following the statement by CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt that “meaningful use as it has existed will be effectively over” once changes to the program (currently under development at CMS) are announced later this year.
Let’s just hope that means Meaningful Use with a capital “M” and “U” – the federal program – and not “meaningful use” in the generic (and positive) sense of the phrase. Because “meaningful use” of EHRs, and health IT generally, by healthcare providers remains a potentially important means to a vital end: more effective patient care and better patient outcomes.
Indeed, the four guiding principles for future health IT regulation, articulated jointly this week by Slavitt and ONC chief Karen DeSalvo, seem to point in a positive direction:
- Rewarding providers for outcomes that technology helps them achieve.
- Allowing providers the flexibility to customize health IT to their practice needs.
- Leveling the technology playing field by promoting innovation and unlocking electronic health information through the use of APIs.
- Prioritizing interoperability by implementing federally recognized national interoperability standards.
Whatever follows Meaningful Use (the program) will hopefully contribute to meaningful and effective use (as a best practice) of healthcare IT for a long time to come.