As time progresses and the mandatory implementation of Stage 2 of Meaningful Use criteria looms closer, many physicians are still trying to grasp what exactly Meaningful Use is, and how to fully comply with Stage One. A bit of history seems appropriate to help this reflection.
The idea of Meaningful Use developed as the brain-child of the National Quality Forum (NQF) in its efforts to determine a set of national priorities that, if focused on, would help health care performance-improvement efforts. In 2008, the NQF released a report in which it identified the areas needing ameliorating (a big word they used to mean “down-right fixing”). Their ideas included many obvious areas such as: improved population health, coordination of care, improved safety, increased efficiency, reduction of racial disparities, and patient engagement. Privacy and security were later added to this list. These ‘duh’ ideals were used to create a framework to determine the Meaningful Use of EMR/EHRs.
Then, in 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) added to the Meaningful Use by focusing on preserving and improving the affordability of health care—and less medically-relevant provisions such as modernizing the nation’s infrastructure, enhancing energy independence, providing tax relief, and expanding educational opportunities. The HITECH Act addressed the ARRA’s focus on affordable healthcare, and specifically outlines the promotion of Health Information Technology (HIT), HIT testing, grants and loans funding and demonstration programs, privacy, and provisions for monetary incentives through Medicaid and Medicare. With these regulations the act aimed to improve healthcare quality, safety, privacy/security and efficiency through applying HIT and maintaining HIT standards. The grants and loans funding portion of the act provides incentives to use HITs, research monies to strengthen HIT infrastructure, and assistance in HIT application, including Regional Extension Centers. Lastly, the act provided eligible health care professionals and hospitals economic incentives when they adopt certified EMR/EHR technology and use it “meaningfully” through our socialized medicine providers—Medicaid and Medicare.
While opinions vary as to what all this means, we hope this context is helpful. For more information about the practical implications of Meaningful Use and an approximate timeline of its implementation, visit our C-Suite sub-tab, Certification and Meaningful Use. Another good resource for understanding the new regulations is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
As usual, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact me at Clinic Service or respond to this post!
Certainly more to come on this subject.