At deadline, healthcare providers, electronic medical-record vendors and anyone else hoping to be cut a piece of the $34 billion federal healthcare IT pie was still searching for meaning. Or, to be more precise, the HHS definition of “meaningful use” that will drive its subsidization of healthcare IT purchases allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
To qualify for the subsidies, providers must show they are actually using the technology applications such as electronic prescribing, reporting quality measures, or sharing information for the purposes of improving care.
The definition had been expected to be released earlier this month, but policymakers said they were still accepting suggestions with a Dec. 31 deadline looming.
The delay has caused some discussion as to whether what had been intended as a stimulus has actually led to a slowdown in IT sales as buyers wait to make sure their purchase will meet the still-undefined federal requirements. To counter this, some vendors offered guarantees that their products would meet the requirements even if it was unclear at the time what those requirements were.