"Demographics are statistical characteristics of a population. These types of data are used widely in public opinion polling andmarketing. Commonly examined demographics include gender, age, ethnicity, knowledge of languages, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Demographic trends describe the historical changes in demographics in a population over time (for example, the average age of a population may increase or decrease over time). Both distributions and trends of values within a demographic variable are of interest. Demographics are very essential about the population of a region and the culture of the people there."
Between now and January 14, you have the opportunity to express your support for including occupation and industry codes in the federal rules defining "meaningful use" of EHRs. If you choose to do so, please consider telling the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) that you favor the addition of occupation and industry codes and the retention of demographics as incentivized objectives in the definition of meaningful use.
These changes will not only address the meaningful use goal of improving quality, safety, and reducing health disparities but also serve to improve the goal of improving population and public health by securing the data needed to improve the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of occupational injury and illness.
Links for submitting your comments and additional background information are included below.
Request for Comment Regarding the Stage 3 Definition of Meaningful Use
Stage 3 Definition: Objectives, Recommendations, and Questions/Comments (see Page 6)
Included as part of the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA), the "Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health" (HITECH) Act promotes the meaningful use of interoperable electronic health records (EHRs) throughout the United States health care delivery system as a critical national goal. This effort is led by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).
CMS grants an incentive payment to Eligible Professionals (EPs) or Eligible Hospitals (EHs) who can demonstrate that they have engaged in efforts to adopt, implement or upgrade certified EHR technology. In order to encourage widespread EHR adoption, promote innovation, and avoid imposing excessive burden on healthcare providers, meaningful use has been introduced in stages. Rule making defining meaningful use for stages 1 and 2 has already been finalized. On 11/26/2012, ONC published a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on the draft recommendations for meaningful use stage 3. The comment period will close on 01/14/2013.
The Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee has proposed adding occupation and industry codes and eliminated demographics as incentivized objectives. The addition of occupation and industry codes is welcome, but these data will have little value for computing health statistics if demographics are missing. Occupation and industry codes should be added and demographics should be retained.
IOM: Incorporating Occupational Information in Electronic Health Records: Letter Report http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Incorporating-Occupational-Information-in-Electronic-Health-Records-Letter-Report.aspx
CDC: Introduction to Meaningful Use
Health Affairs: 'Meaningful Use' Of Electronic Health Records
NEJM: The "Meaningful Use" Regulation for Electronic Health Records
Wikipedia: Meaningful Use
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