Electronic health records (EHRs) are certain to improve the quality of treatment and support improved decision-making by caregivers. Thousands of American physicians who have implemented EHR systems in their clinics have already experienced the benefits and are recommending their counterparts to adopt them, too.
In addition, the Obama government is actively encouraging the adoption of EHR systems. Through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), the federal government is expected to commit exceptional resources to support the adoption of EMR systems. In addition, HITECH lays great emphasis on the meaningful use of EMRs, that is, their use by caregivers to achieve significant improvements in healthcare. This Act links stimulus funding to the accomplishment of advances in healthcare.
This regulation has divided meaningful use into two parts: core objectives and menu elements, which are additional important objectives. While the former are an essential starting point, healthcare providers may choose several from the latter to implement in the first two years of adopting meaningful use EHR systems.
Core objectives consist of basic tasks to be executed while creating an electronic medical record. In addition, they include usage of software applications that bring out the true potential of EHR in improving quality, safety and efficiency. To qualify for incentives, caregivers must use these features to avoid errors and make better healthcare decisions.
The second group consists of menu objectives, a list of ten tasks of which five may be selected for implementation in 2011-2012. This gives providers flexibility to choose how they want to move towards setting up meaningful use EHR systems in their practice. This menu includes reminder services to patients, providing patient-specific health education resources and supporting patient transitions between personnel.
HITECH also specifies the rates at which caregivers have to use particular functions in order to be considered meaningful use for most of the tasks on the core and menu lists.
How does the physician know whether or not he is entering data in a way that qualifies for stimulus? An ideal EMR system should showed whether the practice is complying with the meaningful use regulation. To serve this purpose, top providers have built in a stimulus dashboard into their EMR systems.
The stimulus dashboard, or meaningful use dashboard, enables the caregiver to gather real-time information on current meaningful use levels at his practice. Customized reports generated allow for monitoring of innumerable CMS-required data elements and enable him to visualize the patients covered within. The caregiver can also export this data quickly and easily to regional Health Information Exchanges. In this way, the stimulus dashboard assists him with regulatory compliance and helps qualify him for stimulus funding.
In conclusion, meaningful use regulation helps create a private and secure EMR system. It strikes a perfect balance between encouraging the adoption of EHR to enhance healthcare and recognizing teething challenges. This combination of ambition and achievability makes meaningful use improve healthcare quality and efficiency.