Monday, November 18, 2013

What is Meaningful Use of EHR?

Published by Pradip Sengupta, CEO of IPS Technology Services

The term Meaningful Use or MU has become a familiar one among healthcare information technology (HIT) practitioners. The need to use health information technology (HIT) to improve patient care, health care quality and clinical outcomes emerged as a matter of national policy with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009. The HITECH provisions of ARRA make an explicit connection between the “Meaningful Use” of electronic health records (EHR) and the transformation of health care. The stakes surrounding meaningful use for health providers, physician practices and hospitals are significant. In addition to the incentive payments of $44,000 over the next four years which will be paid in yearly installments, there are longer-term reimbursement penalties for those who fail to meet the meaningful use requirement.

So what is meaningful use? It is a set of 25 requirements that a provider must meet to receive stimulus dollars. These requirements (publicly available information) are grouped into FIVE major areas:

- Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparity
- Engage patients and families in their healthcare
- Improve care coordination
- Improve population and public health
- Ensure health information privacy and security

Each of the above areas has Goals, Objectives, suggested Actions, and measurement criteria that can be implemented through a combination of technologies such as Patient Registry, Computerized Physicians Order Entry (CPOE) system, Electronic Health Record or EHR , Patient Portal, Practice Management, Billing, EPrescribe, and Clinical Decision Support System or CDS. Each of these tools, when implemented properly, can be used to generate required reports to monitor activities and their progress – this is necessary to prove MU at a physicians practice.

Implementation of Meaningful Use with necessary technology is going to be the next biggest challenge for providers in the next 3-5 years as it will require a systematic approach that will focus on workflow and systems integration needed to avoid redundancies. MU also requires an effective communication among patients, providers, and payers through integrated technology.

In order to implement MU efficiently with less risk and to get the best ROI for technology dollars a physician’s practice may seek advice from a vendor agnostic consultant with HIT implementation experience. A good consultant will be able to take a step by step and logical approach to make sure MU is implemented enabling physicians to receive stimulus dollars. 

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