Electronic health records (EHR) can provide many benefits for providers and their patients, but the benefits rely on its usage. One provider may use it as a glorified word processor, while another provider may utilize all its features to make his practice efficient. To establish this way of utilization for efficient practice, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services developed a set of standards which, if followed, will define the usage of EHR to be meaningful. Meaningful use standards govern the use of electronic health records and allow eligible providers and hospitals to earn incentive payments by meeting specific criteria.
The goal of meaningful use is to promote the spread of electronic health records (EHR) to improve health care in the United States.
The benefits of the meaningful use of EHR include:
● Complete and accurate Information. With electronic health records, it is assumed that providers have the information they need at point of care to provide the best possible care. Providers will be better prepared to see their patients as walk-in-the-room, having access to patient lab, imaging studies, consults, etc. at point of care.
● Better access to Information. EHR allow providers to have increased access to the patients’ health information at point-of-care which in turn helps diagnose health conditions earlier and improves patient care quality and outcomes. EHR also allow information to be easily shared with other providers, hospitals and across the health system, leading to improved patient care.
● Patient Empowerment. EHR will empower patients to take a more active role in the care of their health and the health of their families. Via the patient portal, patients can access their health information securely and communicate with their providers for better provider-patient interactions.
Stages of Meaningful Use
In order to achieve meaningful use, eligible providers and hospitals must adopt certified EHR technology and use it to achieve specific objectives.
These meaningful use objectives and measures will evolve in three stages over the next five years:
Achieving meaningful use during Stage 1 requires meeting both core and menu objectives. All of the core objectives are required. EPs and hospitals may choose which objectives to meet from the menu set.
In coming weeks/months, we will learn about these Stages in detail. Visit next week to learn about timelines for the Stages and regulatory deadlines in 2014 for providers to meet.