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VNAA submitted comments to the Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee regarding “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs) and the role of HIT in improving quality care while achieving cost savings. Given the nature of current HIT usage in homecare practice and the increasing role of telemonitoring in homecare practice, VNAA instituted a HIT Working Group comprised of clinically focused Information Technology (IT) specialists in an effort to develop and shape VNAA’s HIT agenda.

With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February of this year, $19 billion was made available to support the modernization of the US’s health IT system. The Recovery Act provides Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to eligible providers, such as physicians and hospitals, in order to increase the adoption of EHRs. To receive the incentive payments, providers must demonstrate “meaningful use” of a certified EHR. Building upon the work done by the HIT Policy Committee, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), will be developing a proposed rule that provides greater detail on the incentive program and proposes a definition of meaningful use. CMS expects to issue the proposed rule in late 2009, which will be followed by a comment period.

Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 makes clear that the initial focus of HIT funding and implementation strategies are directed to hospitals and physicians, VNAA urged the HIT Policy Committee to incorporate homecare providers into the HIT discussion particularly since the nature of homecare increasingly relies on IT to relay information between patient homes, office-based practices and institutional settings. Moreover, the capacity of home health providers to effectively employ IT differs greatly with many nonprofit homecare agencies unable to raise money for capital investment in HIT.

Access VNAA HIT comment letter here.

Access Details regarding Medicare and Medicaid HIT incentive fact sheet.

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