We have been discussing Meaningful Use for some time now, and several of our readers have been asking for us to go back to the basics to explain in broad terms what it is, how it impacts healthcare, and what are the top things that individuals and organizations need to know.  In response to this request, we are pleased to present this post where we will go back and explain the basics, EHR Meaningful Use 101 so to speak.  We hope that you find this helpful!

So What Does Meaningful Use Actually Mean

These meaningful use standards mean that it is not enough for healthcare organizations to utilize Electronic Health Records, but that they must do so in a way which accomplishes the above objectives in a concrete way which is measurable and improves the overall care experience.  EHRs must be utilized in a manner which improves quality, safety and efficiency.  This can

mean utilizing EHRs to coordinate care between providers or to monitor care more efficiently to avoid over-medication, or different practitioners prescribing non compatible medication.  It also means that practices utilizing EHRs must have to improve efficiency through their utilization.  Paper records were previously cumbersome, and missed not only the capture of some critical data, but the sharing of that data between organizations and systems.  The transition to medical based records promises to eliminate duplicate entries from a data administration point of view, and streamline the patient record keeping process.

Defining meaningful use basics

How do we go about defining meaningful use basics?

EHRS must be utilized to fully engage patients and families.  This means allowing care to be more patient centered, or driven by the patients preferences, which can be recorded in effective EHR databases.  Some organizations may wish to implement new clinical processes and improvements based on EHR information such as outreach programs for those with chronic conditions, or increased follow up for those patients who often miss appointments.

When EHRs aim to improve care coordination and public health, they are referring to a new ability for providers to collaborate regarding patient care to an extent never before possible with paper records.  A primary care provider and mental health provider may utilize EHRs to fully treat a patients conditions in an integrated care approach aided by the technology that EHRs contain.  No longer will care be siloed between specific providers. EHRs will allow for increased communication, coordination, and collaboration that will enable physicians to get a total picture of a patients condition and prior care, and thus be empowered to treat them more effectively.

Finally, EHRs must be able to fully support the protection of private patient information.  This means that although EHRs will be utilized to detect large population trends related to care, and will have the ability to allow for increased integration of care between providers, a persons private and protected healthcare information must remain just that….private and protected.  Organizations may not share any health records, including Electronic Health Records, without patient approval, and standards of confidentiality related to Electronic Health Records are the same or more stringent than the standards for traditional records.

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