Massachusetts Hospitals Must Have CPOE by 2012 and CCHIT-Certified EHRs by 2015

Massachusetts requires hosptials to use CCHIT-certified EHRs and COPE systems by 2012 and 2015 respectively.

Massachusetts recently passed a law requiring hospitals and certain other organizations to use interoperable electronic health applications. One key part of the story is that, by law, the systems must be CCHIT Certified. There is good, broad coverage at FCW.com. As is typical with such programs, the hope is to contain health care costs while boosting quality, transparency, and access to healthcare.

What does this have to do with interoperability? One of the sections (#37) of this law states that by the year 2015 hospitals and community health centers will be required to use interoperable electronic health records (EHR) in order to renew or obtain a license to operate in Massachusetts. Another section (#36) says that by 2012 these entities will be required to use computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems.

The other very interesting twist is that these CPOE and EHR systems must be certified by CCHIT.

In order to meet the state’s goal of “full implementation of electronic health records systems and the statewide interoperable electronic health records network by January 1, 2015″, the law allows for the creation of the Massachusetts eHealth Initiative which will set up a mechanism for creating a statewide health information exchange. The institute will have a council of high-ranking state officials that will advise and act as board of directors.

Patients will have the ability to join or remove themselves from the system at any time and, as expected, there will be encryption and other measures to keep personal health information private.

The EHR plan will be laid out by e-Health Institute and, more importantly, will be funded by an e-Health Institute fund that could have a variety of sources for its money, including state bonds, appropriations, federal grants or loans or private donations.

The important parts of the new law (emphasis added):

Section 4, Section 6D:

(d) The institute director shall prepare and annually update a statewide electronic health records plan, and an annual update thereto. Each plan shall contain a budget for the application of funds from the E-Health Institute Fund for use in implementing each such plan. The institute director shall submit such plans and updates, and associated budgets, to the council for its approval. Each such plan and the associated budget shall be subject to approval of the board following action on it by the council.

Each plan as updated shall: (i) allow seamless, secure electronic exchange of health information among health care providers, health plans and other authorized users; (ii) provide consumers with secure, electronic access to their own health information; (iii) meet all applicable federal and state privacy and security requirements, including requirements imposed by 45 C.F.R. §§160, 162 and 164; (iv) meet standards for interoperability adopted by the institute with the approval of the council; (v) give patients the option of allowing only designated health care providers to disseminate their individually identifiable information; (vi) provide public health reporting capability as required under state law; and (vii) allow reporting of health information other than identifiable patient health information for purposes of such activities as the secretary of health and human services may from time to time consider necessary.

(e) The corporation may contract with implementing organizations to:

(v) ensure that electronic health records systems are fully interoperable and secure and that sensitive patient information is kept confidential by exclusively utilizing electronic health records products that are certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology;

(f) Funding for the institute and council’s activities shall be through the E-Health Institute Fund, established in section 6E. The institute, in consultation with the council, shall develop mechanisms for funding health information technology, including a grant program to assist health care providers with costs associated with health information technologies, including electronic health records systems, and coordinated with other electronic health records projects seeking federal reimbursement.

SECTION 36. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, on or before October 1, 2012, the department of public health shall adopt regulations requiring hospitals and community health centers, as a standard of eligibility for original licensure and renewal of licensure, to implement computerized physician order entry systems as defined by the department. The systems shall be certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology or a successor agency or organization established for the purpose of certifying that health information technology meets national interoperability standards.

SECTION 37. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, on or before October 1, 2015, the department of public health shall adopt regulations requiring hospitals and community health centers, as a standard of eligibility for original licensure and renewal of licensure, to implement interoperable electronic health records systems, as defined by the department. The system shall be certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology or a successor agency or organization established for the purpose of certifying that health information technology meets national interoperability standards.

Dave Shaver is the CTO for Corepoint Health. Dave has more than 20 years experience in training, consulting, and software development. He’s deeply involved in the HL7 standards community, including co-chair of HL7 Infrastructure and Messaging committee and co-chair of the HL7 FHIR Governance Board.

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