The Electronic Health Records Association (Chicago) is seeking broad stakeholder consensus by sharing its perspectives on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) as well as specific recommendations for the definition of "meaningful use" of certified EHRs, which will be used to determine eligibility for the more than $36 billion in healthcare IT stimulus incentives for physicians and hospitals.

"I've been pleased to have the opportunities to speak and collaborate on behalf of the association with healthcare executives and clinicians around the country on the ARRA term "meaningful use" of certified EHRs," said Justin Barnes, chairman of the EHR Association. "I believe that our unique, collective experience as developers, implementers and providers of EHRs is being recognized as we strive to strike the right balance between practical application of these comprehensive EHR solutions and real results that support more effective, efficient care delivery."

Barnes has recently been making presentations on ARRA and the association's recommendations on "meaningful use" to several organizations, including the HIMSS 2009 conference in April as well as Intel Corp., several Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) chapters, Pri-Med West's annual conference and the CIO Healthcare Summit.

Barnes and Mark Segal of GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin), a member of the EHR Association's Government Relations Workgroup, also testified in April at the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) Executive Subcommittee meeting on "meaningful use" recommendations.

The 41 member companies of the EHR Association collaborated earlier in April in an effort to develop and approve the consensus recommendations on meaningful use and EHR certification for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The HIMSS EHR Association, chartered in 2004, provides leadership for the electronic health record community and their customers in the harmonization of HIT standards, the EHR certification process, standards-based healthcare interoperability, and performance and quality measures.

"It is ... gratifying that our association is being called on to provide insights into the potential impacts of ARRA and to make recommendations on 'meaningful use' criteria," said Andy Ury, MD, EHR Association vice chair. "An approach that builds on the solid work already done by HITSP, CCHIT and the EHR development community is important not only to enable EHR software providers to manage their development cycles , but even more importantly, to help the clinicians using EHRs whose business is patient care, not information technology."

The HIMSS EHR Association is a trade association of electronic health record companies that join together to lead the health IT industry in the accelerated adoption of electronic health records in hospital and ambulatory care settings in the U.S. The association is a partner of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (also Chicago).