What’s So Meaningful about Meaningful Use?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Bill) included a subsection called HiTECH which provides funds to incentivize hospitals and doctors to purchase and implement an electronic health record (EHR). To determine whether a doctor or hospital has implemented such a system, and is thus qualified to receive the incentive, the government created a concept called Meaningful Use. Not included in the Recovery Act were behavioral health providers, including alcohol and substance abuse and mental health services as well as other non-physical healthcare providers. To rectify this omission, Congress introduced two bills (HR 5040 and S3709) aimed at specifically making these providers eligible for Medicaid incentives.

Most experts believe that these two bills will pass, thus making funds available to behavioral healthcare agencies that meet the Meaningful Use criteria and adopt a certified electronic health record. The Federal government has issued standards to assess which organizations qualify as meaningful users as well as which vendors provide the necessary functionality. Both requirements must be met for an agency to qualify.

The Federal Department of Health and Human Services is currently taking applications from standards and certification organizations that can administer the EHR certification test. Presently, three companies are authorized to conduct certifications, with more to follow. The substance of the certification process is very closely related to the Meaningful Use definitions.

As agencies prepare to become meaningful users, Foothold Technology is making the necessary updates to our software to become a certified vendor.  Foothold’s application development team is putting everything in place to code, test and deploy the functionality required to get certified and keep our community of agencies in compliance.