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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
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What are the objectives/measures for this priority?

The goals of this policy priority are part of a broad effort to improve the health of the public and populations across the U. S.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) coordinate the Healthy People Initiative, which has established national health objectives to identify health risks and provide a framework for completing these goals. The objectives of Healthy People are to increase quality and years of life and eliminate health disparities. Other national efforts to improve population and public health include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain registries, and the Indian Health Service strategic plan that includes language to develop and support ongoing data sharing relationships, such as the exchange of immunization data with state immunization registries.

To align with these national public health goals and to allow public health agencies to effectively monitor the health of communities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has emphasized the importance of using EHRs to improve population and public health by making it one of the five policy priorities.  

The Meaningful Use Stage 1 objectives for this priority are menu set objectives. The menu set consists of 10 objectives, of which a provider must select 5.  Providers are required to select at least one of the population and public health priority objectives as part of the 5 menu options. To meet the population and public health objectives, the provider or hospital must be able to demonstrate the capacity to communicate specified health information electronically to public health agencies. It is important to note that in order to demonstrate Meaningful Use, a provider or hospital must show it has the capacity to send public health data, even if the state or local public health agency is not yet ready to receive the data.

CMS has specifically outlined the following menu set objectives for Meaningful Use in this priority:

  • Eligible professionals and hospitals must have the capability to submit electronic data to immunization registries and perform actual submission with accordance to applicable law and practice.  
  • Eligible professionals and hospitals must have the capability to provide electronic syndromic surveillance data (defined as the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data about a clinical syndrome that has a significant impact on public health) to public health agencies and perform actual submission according to applicable law and practice.
  • Hospitals must have the capability to submit electronic data of reportable lab results as required by state or local law to public health agencies and perform actual submission where it can be received.

Additionally, the EHR Incentive Program Final Rule allows states to seek CMS prior approval to require the population and public health-related objectives be core (rather than menu set objectives) for their Medicaid providers.  This includes the reporting to immunization registries, reportable lab results, syndromic surveillance (and generating lists of patients by specific conditions).  States can specify for their providers how to test the data submission and to which specific destination the data be transmitted to.

Related Resources:

CMS EHR Incentive Program  – The CMS homepage for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs.  It includes information on the Meaningful Use objectives, EHR certification, eligible professionals, and frequently asked questions.
ONC EHR Certification Final Rule – See pages 26-27 and 52-53 for more complete information.
Rule Summary: Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records and Public Health go to exit disclaimer– This document, produced by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) summarizes the Stage 1 Meaningful Use core and menu sets.
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) go to exit disclaimer– The homepage for ASTHO, the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the 120,000 public health professionals these agencies employ.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Homepage for CDC, the public health agency under HHS.
Healthy People – The homepage for the Healthy People Initiative, which provides a statement of national health objectives designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to health and to establish national goals to reduce these threats.

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