ONC Acknowledges Meaningful Use Implementation Challenges; Offers Solutions

Dr. Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, challenged public health departments to take advantage of Meaningful Use reimbursement incentives. These incentives are available to providers who meet the Syndromic Surveillance requirements of Meaningful Use. Despite these enticing incentives, public health departments continue to face implementation challenges—one of the biggest being budget constraints. This article discusses how the ONC is modifying regulations in an attempt to address this issue.


Three meaningful use objectives are focused on public health reporting: reporting to immunization registries, electronic lab reporting of reportable conditions, and syndromic surveillance.

Because of the difficulties public health agencies have had testing connections and onboarding a deluge of hospitals and eligible professionals, ONC made a significant change to ease the pressure: Hospitals and EPs that are in the testing queue with a state agency to exchange public health data can attest they have met that requirement, until such time they’re required to submit production data.

The reason for the change is that public health simply can’t keep up, Foldy told a packed room at the HIE symposium Monday, Feb. 20 at the HIMSS12 conference in Las Vegas. The agencies must replace their legacy systems to use national standards, as do most of their providers, while at the same time public health has been hit hard by state belt-tightening. More than 50,000 public health workers have been pink-slipped, along getting their budgets chopped, and information exchange initiatives such as the CDC’s BioSense project also faced funding shortfalls.

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