Obama announces new rules for electronic healthcare records

In August, Google CEO Eric Schmidt criticized the administration’s plans for the system, stating that they would be outdated and would rely on outmoded medical devices that do not take advantage of the Web.

The standards are intended to help move doctors' offices from a paper-based system to an electronic system as a way of improving healthcare and saving money.

“Widespread adoption of electronic health records holds great promise for improving healthcare quality, efficiency and patient safety,” said David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology.

He said the administration believes that over time, the new system’s incentive program for using electronic health records will lead to its adoption by more individual providers and organizations.

The proposed rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services specify the criteria eligible professionals and hospitals would have to meet to qualify for incentive payments to use electronic record technologies.

Separately, the Health and Human Services Department released proposed standards for the electronic health records technology. The standards are intended to enhance the function, utility and security of the technology and to support its meaningful use.

HHS was required to adopt an initial set of standards for the electronic technology by Thursday. The new rules will go into effect in 30 days, but could be refined based on comments from the public over the next 60 days.

HHS said a final rule would be released in 2010.