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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on December 7th, 2012

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Your Top 5 EHR Meaningful Use Questions Answered

Electronic Health Records | Value-Based Care

Top 5 EHR Meaningful Use QuestionsEstablishing or updating to new EHR software can be a daunting task for many practices. Fortunately, Medicare and Medicaid offer an incentive program designed to ease the burden of cost for medical professionals who make 'Meaningful Use' out of the software. Of course, in order to receive the incentive, understanding what Meaningful Use is, how to demonstrate it, what the process is, and related terms is vital to successfully qualify.

1) What is Meaningful Use?

Meaningful Use is a set of criteria established by Medicare and Medicaid used to ensure that EHR systems are getting good use. There are fifteen mandatory criterion and an additional ten on the menu list, from which only five need to be demonstrated by the medical provider. A provider must meet a total of twenty to qualify for the initial stimulus payments during stage one. 

2) What are the basic criteria my practice must meet to qualify?

The core set of mandatory measures required to qualify include documenting a set percentage of relevant electronic medical records as follows:

  • 80% of problem list (ICD-9 or SNOMED), active medication list, medication allergies, demographics, and vitals (BP and BMI)
  • 50% recording of smoking status, patient clinical visit summaries within three days, and hospital discharge instructions or patient with electronic copy within three days.
  • 40% of e-prescriptions and 30% of CPOE, including a med need to be recorded.

Also, the drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction functionality must be enabled, security risk analysis must be performed, and there must be at least one rule of clinical decision support, as well as a test of critical information exchange. Finally, a report of clinical quality reviewing BP, BMI, smoking status, and three others must be completed.

From the 'Menu' set, the practice may select five additional criteria to meet. These include drug-formulary checks, structured lab results, reports of patients by conditions, using EHR software to send patient-specific education, providing a summary care record at transitions, sending reminders to patients for follow up and preventative care, at least one test of feeding immunization registries or syndromic surveillance, electronic access to labs for patients, or medication reconciliation.

3) How can we demonstrate compliance with Meaningful Use?

Most medical software companies are prepared to offer assistance with Meaningful Use compliance and can walk you through the different Stages and requirements that must be met. It is helpful to use a medical software company that is certified for all twenty criteria. 

4) What exactly are 'Stages'?

There are three stages that are measured over a period of five years. Each one demonstrates a higher level of adoption by the practice. Be aware that not all medical software companies are certified for all the various criteria. Stage One has already been discussed. Stage Two verifies that the practice is continuing to utilize all the functionality they established during Stage One, and physicians are required to use EHR to transfer information like lab orders and results. Stage Three keeps up with the progress in earlier stages, and adds clinical decision support, as well as patient enrollment in an online record portal. Criteria may be added to Stage Three in the future.

5) Why does my practice need EHR anyway?

Electronic medical records are an incredibly useful tool for any practice. They have been shown to increase efficiency and revenue, lessen costly mistakes, improve return rate on claims, and improve patient satisfaction. They streamline a physician's workload and eliminate redundancies and needless paperwork. They are good for the environment and the patients. With the incentive program, there is no reason to not update or obtain a quality EHR system.

About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.