Commentary: Meaningful Use of Health Information Exchange?

Dr. John Loonsk | Government Health IT | October 3, 2011

The title of this article is pure jargon, but does express the issue at hand. An alternative title “The Most Important Health Policy Decision Hidden as an Obscure Health IT Technical Evaluation that You May Never Have Heard of,” would have also been accurate, but is grammatically unsound and too flippant for an important subject.

For either title, however, there is a need to focus attention on a report from a small working group (“NwHIN Power Team”) of the Health IT Standards Committee. The HIT Standards Committee advises the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). The report’s implications ripple out from obscure technical details, through broad HIT policy, and into the very viability of health IT to support health and health reform.

Support of health reform has been the lead rationale for the multi-billion dollar HITECH investment in Electronic Health Records and much of the focus of this administration. But despite the importance of this particular issue to the health reform agenda and somewhat belying the “Meaningful Use” name, this issue has - so far - been processed as a technical decision about standards readiness rather than one about health IT capabilities or health outcomes...