Dr. Noam Arzt has a post on Meaningful Use and public health reporting. In it he discusses the problems faced by providers in submitting health information to public health bodies in ways that are also Meaningful Use Stage 1 compliant.
Health records in provider offices are sometimes stored in disparate silos that are cannot/do not communicate with one another. As Dr. Arzt explains with an immunization records example, there is no demonstrable Meaningful Use if an uncertified system makes the data submissions to public health.
Of course, adding additional functionality to the EHR system with a simultaneous revamping of uncertified system to provide Meaningful Use share data with one another is one (costly) solution. Getting the secondary data system certified is another one. A third approach, which Dr. Arzt touches on, is for Health Information Exchanges to act as/provide for certified intermediaries that bridge the data flow between an uncertified system and one that is Meaningful Use certified.
Here’s what HHS had to say about the subject a month ago:
If an intermediary performs a capability specified in an adopted certification criterion and a provider intends to use the capability the intermediary provides to satisfy a correlated meaningful use requirement (submission to public health according to adopted standards), the capability provided by the intermediary would need to be certified as an EHR Module
This intermediary need can be filled, especially by innovative software vendors or those looking to break into the EHR IT industry. From plain data conversions to web services, IT companies have plenty of tricks up their sleeve to assist HIEs. The technology is there, all we need are savvy techies (companies, people) to see the opportunity this presents and act on it.