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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality
Improvement

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Introduction

Public health is the science and practice of improving the health of communities and populations across the nation through promoting healthy lifestyles, providing education about prevention of disease and injury, and tracking surveillance data.  State and local governmental public health agencies regularly collect data on diseases, immunizations and other information in order to track, improve, and protect the health of communities.  Currently, most of this data is submitted by health care providers to governmental public health agencies in a paper-based format.  The EHR Incentive Program’s objectives around this priority aim to improve public health by encouraging providers to utilize electronic health records (EHRs) to submit important information to governmental and other local public health agencies.

To comply with the EHR Incentive Program (Meaningful Use) Final Rule, a provider must use an EHR system that has been certified by an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB). The certified EHR system will do the following:  

  • Meet standards for interoperable health information exchange (HIE). These HIE standards include compliance to Health Level 7 messaging standards (HL7), which allow computer systems to communicate data back and forth between entities.
  • Have the ability to effectively interface with immunization registries and governmental public health agencies to enable the transmission of electronic data as directed by public health agencies.
  • Have the functionality to electronically record, modify, retrieve and submit syndrome-based public health surveillance information.
  • Have the functionality to electronically record, modify, retrieve and submit reportable clinical lab results using HL7 standards and, if the electronic submission originates from a laboratory, the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Costs (LOINC) standard.

A certified EHR will allow providers to demonstrate that they meet the Meaningful Use objectives and measures required to demonstrate the Health Policy Priority Population and Public Health.  These objectives and measures are shown in the table below.  

Health Policy Priority:  Improve population and public health

Stage 1 Objectives and Measures

Objective

 

Eligible Professional

Eligible Hospital

Measure

Menu Set

Capability to submit electronic data to immunization registries or Immunization Information Systems (IIS)and actual submission in accordance with applicable law and practice

Capability to submit electronic data to immunization registries or Immunization Information Systems (IIS) and actual submission in accordance with applicable law and practice

Perform at least one test of certified EHR technology's capacity to submit electronic data to immunization registries or IISs and follow up submission if the test is successful (unless none of the immunization registries to which the eligible professional or hospital submits such information have the capacity to receive the information electronically)

 

 

Capability to submit electronic data on reportable (as required by state or local law) lab results to public health agencies and actual submission in accordance with applicable law and practice

Perform at least one test of certified EHR technology's capacity to provide electronic submission of reportable lab results to public health agencies and follow-up submission if the test is successful (unless none of the public health agencies to which eligible hospital submits such information have the capacity to receive the information electronically)

 

Capability to submit electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies and actual submission in accordance with applicable law and practice

Capability to submit electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies and actual submission in accordance with applicable law and practice

Perform at least one test of certified EHR technology's capacity to provide electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies and follow-up submission if the test is successful (unless none of the public health agencies to which an eligible professional or hospital submits such information have the capacity to receive the information electronically)

 

This module poses questions on Meaningful Use and population and public health, then provides a response and suggests additional resources.  Only Stage 1 criteria for demonstrating Meaningful Use are addressed, as Stage 2 and Stage 3 criteria have not yet been finalized by CMS.  The terms ‘EHR Incentive Program’ and ‘Meaningful Use’ are used interchangeably throughout.

Related Resources:

ONC EHR Standards and Certification – ONC webpage provides an overview of the EHR standards and certification required for demonstrating Meaningful Use and offers additional resources that further explain the program requirements.  
ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies – ONC webpage explains the certification program and links to ONC authorized testing and certification bodies and lists those EHRs that have been certified EHRs, and explains the certification program.
Who is at Risk? Patient Identification and Outreach go to exit disclaimer– Presentation by Kwame Kitson, Institute for Family Health, discusses electronic data, patient identification, and outreach and requirements for meeting Meaningful Use criteria.
Identifying and Addressing Health Disparities go to exit disclaimer– Presentation by Geniene Wilson, ECRIP Fellow, Institute for Family Health, addresses demographic data collection and Meaningful Use criteria to reduce health disparities.

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