In an effort to determine a set of national antecedents that would help healthcare performance and improvement efforts, the concept of meaningful use was developed by the National Quality Forum (NQF).
Meaningful use, specifically the use of electronic health records, is a qualification to receive federal funding for health information technology. The provisions of the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) provides that healthcare organizations that have accomplished meaningful use in 2011 will be entitled to incentive payments, while those that will not have achieved that standard by 2015 may be sanctioned.
The baseline for electronic data capture and information sharing was set by stage 1 meaningful use criteria.
Stage 2 and Stage 3 will continue to expand on that baseline. The final rules for meaningful use of stage 2 were released by the federal government last month. After 2014 the rules set will become effective for program participants. Out of the 20 measures contained in the final rules for physicians, 17 are core and 3 of 6 are menu, and out of the 19 measures for hospitals, 16 are core and 3 of 6 are menu.
The fact that providers no longer have full control over whether they qualify for some measures is one of the crotchets of the final stage two rules. As a requirement by the new standards, hospitals and individuals should offer a half of their patient’s access to their own health records via a portal, which is an increment from 10% in stage 1. Another complicating factor is the need to adjust clinical workflows for example, patients are not as extensively involved in their care as they should be.
Despite the delay by the federal government to start the stage 2 of meaningful use up to 2014, healthcare providers should not slack in their pursuit of the proposed goals of the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program that is improved, more dependable, cheap healthcare. Vendors’ modification on their products to meet the new 2014 EHR certification standards will lead to installation or advancement of systems by thousands of hospitals next year, resulting in a backlog with suppliers. Providers were advised by McNutt to get their marketers schedule and that those who meet stage 1 goals this year proceed on to stage 2 in fiscal year 2014.
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