Incentives for health IT could include home monitoring equipment

Requirements may cover patient home monitoring equipment

The next phase of federal incentives for electronic health record (EHR) adoption could require providers to be able to transmit records into patients' accounts in real-time and to accept transmissions of data from home monitoring equipment, according to proposals considered by a federal advisory group.

The Health IT Standards Committee’s privacy and security standards workgroup on April 28 reviewed a document that outlined consumer engagement benchmarks that may be implemented in the next phase of EHR adoption, starting in fiscal 2013. The committee makes recommendations to the Health and Human Services Department.

Under the economic stimulus law, HHS will begin distributing $17 billion in fiscal 2011 to doctors and hospitals who buy and "meaningfully use" digital record systems.

To qualify for the payments, the providers must meet a number of requirements in fiscal 2011. The measures related to patient use include delivering electronic copies of medical records to patients, providing timely access to patients of their electronic data within 96 hours of a request, and providing clinical summaries to patients.

For fiscal 2013, more patient engagement requirements would be added, according to a proposal reviewed by the workgroup.

The 2013 requirements considered by the panel included the ability to transfer records in real time to populate a patient’s personal health record, using secure e-mail exchanges between patients and providers, honoring patients' preferences on the format of information and receiving data from patient home monitoring equipment.

For fiscal 2015, two more requirements were considered for patient use: the ability for patients to conduct self-management and to electronically report on their experience of care.

If the federal government makes such requirements, standards would need to be written to specify how the requirements would be fulfilled, committee members said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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