Develop a practice culture that sees the “meaning” in meaningful use.
“Meaningful use” started out as two simple words in a piece of legislation passed by Congress in 2009. Since that time, the term has grown, changed, and taken on a variety of new connotations. Dr. David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the time the legislation was passed, stated shortly after, “The meaningful use framework will be about the goals of care, not the technology.”
Five years later, many have lost the connection between meaningful use and these goals. According to a recent poll conducted by Stoltenberg Consulting at the 2014 HIMSS Conference, 70% of respondents don’t think their organizations are realizing the full potential of meaningful use.Step 1 and Step 2 of preparing for Stage 2 focused objectively on the required measures. Educating eligible professionals (EPs) and practice staff on the true intent behind meaningful use measures is the final piece of the Stage 2 puzzle. Applying this approach now will not only result in compliance, but will also help EPs, other clinical staff, and even patients understand the value of meaningful use Stage 2 in terms of patient safety, care coordination, and patient engagement.
Because EHRs are the tools being used for meaningful use data capture, some organizations approach meaningful use with a “check the box” mentality. This attitude reduces valuable quality measurements into keystrokes and mouse movements. Instead, practice leadership should promote a culture that focuses not only on the number of clicks needed to meet the measure, but what those clicks actually mean to patients and providers.
An example is the requirement to have 5% of patients engage in direct messaging. Organizations may be so focused on hitting the 5% goal that they lose sight of the patient benefits involved. Direct messaging is a way for patients to become more invested in their care. Accessibility that drives patient compliance is the true aim behind the required clicks.
Another example is the patient education requirement. Being a newly mandatory measure, organizations may focus solely on meeting the threshold. However, behind this threshold are the benefits of patients receiving education about their conditions. Educated patients will make more informed decisions about their health and comply with treatment recommendations.
Encouraging this same thought process for other measures will also improve overall adoption. Meaningful use, after all, is a quality program – not a technology program.
As the stages of the meaningful use program advance, meeting requirements will become a more intricate process. Compliance depends not only on EPs but on staff members and patients as well. An EHR application is simply the tool that enables this process. EPs must go beyond the tool and use a more holistic approach to become successful, meaningful users of EHR technology.
Molly Oehmichen, Manager, and Nate McCarthy, Manager, contributed to this post. For more information on MU Stage 2, refer to the Diagnostic on our Web site.