Monday, July 20, 2009

"Meaningful Use" criteria require problem lists in ICD-9 or SNOMED

As we discussed in previous posts here and here, the "stimulus bill" passed by Congress earlier this year increases Medicare and Medicaid payments to physicians and hospitals who are "meaningful users" of electronic medical records (EMRs) in coming years.

The linchpin to the payments is the definition of "meaningful use", which the law mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) define. The law also mandated the formation of the Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) Policy committee, and it is this committee that is currently conducting hearings into what the criteria for "meaningful use" should be. Ultimately, HHS will define meaningful use through a rulemaking process similar to the one that led to the mandate to switch to ICD-10-CM.

Well, the latest "matrix" (warning: pdf) of meaningful use criteria stipulate that the EMR must maintain problem lists in either ICD-9 or SNOMED.

We think they are both terrible choices. Problem lists maintained in either system are not likely to be very meaningful at all.