Many practices across the healthcare industry have already started with Meaningful Use Stage 2 and we’ve been hard at work producing all sorts of content to help you get started. But today we’re taking a step back for those who haven’t started with the program. We brought in our Director of Product Strategy, Julia Crawford, to answer some frequently asked questions about the program and how to meet the Meaningful Use criteria for ODs.
Meeting Meaningful Use Criteria for ODs
What is Meaningful Use?
The Meaningful Use Program was introduced as part of the HITECH Act to promote the use of electronic health records (EHRs). The aim of the program is to make healthcare more consistent, transparent, allow for the measurement of quality of care, and assure that patient health records are seamlessly transported between doctors regardless of their specialty.
How do I get started?
The first thing you will need is a certified EHR. An EHR can reduce the number of medical errors, improve communication between patients and doctors as well as provide clinical decision support. If Meaningful Use is done right, it can improve your practice’s processes and allow you to see more patients and document everything properly. But for it to be done right, you need to find a system that makes it easy to do so. A certified EHR is required for Meaningful Use, but finding an easy-to-use solution is just as important, so make sure you find one that will work for your practice.
How will it affect me?
Many may think that being part of the program means completing exercises that you don’t typically do in your practice and that it would be a waste of time. Most of the tasks that are required are already basic and routine tasks that you should be familiar with. For example, core objectives include protecting electronic health information and maintaining an active medication allergy list. However, for auditing purposes, it is always a good idea to document everything, which might require extra measures and time.
On top of just using a certified EHR for Meaningful Use, an EHR will be able to help you change the way you practice and provide better care for your patients. It allows you to collaborate with doctors of different specialties which means receiving more information about your patients and their history resulting in a more accurate diagnosis. Your patients will have the benefit of receiving different points of view instead of individually, which might lead to missing out on the whole picture. And if your EHR comes with a patient portal, your patients will be able to submit questionnaires and review follow-up materials online, cutting down the amount of time in your practice. Furthermore, patients can communicate with their doctors and receive advice via secure email directly from the patient portal.
What if I choose not to participate?
If you choose not to participate by 2015, your practice will be penalized through lower reimbursements for care provided to Medicare patients. They will be subjected to the adjustments that start at 1% per year (starting in 2015), up to a maximum of 5% annual adjustment.
If you still plan on not participating, you should still consider purchasing a certified EHR. One of the key things for practice long term survivability is continual access to more patients. If a doctor chooses not to use a certified EHR they will not be able to participate in sharing patients with those doctors that have implemented a certified EHR. Also, a certified EHR will allow you to participate in other programs such as the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).
We hope we’ve covered all of your questions about Meaningful Use in this post. But if we didn’t, check out our eBook! You’ll get a deeper look into eligibility, incentives, attestation, and much more!