Meaningful Use: More than Meaningful Work

The numbers don’t lie. The meaningful use incentive program is working, at least as far as awarding stimulus funds is concerned. The incentive program awarded “761 hospitals and 56,585 professionals a total of approximately $2.3 billion for 2011; $1.3 billion to hospitals and $1 billion to eligible professionals,” according to Healthcare IT News.

The median payment to hospitals was $1.7 million. According to the same publication, in a recent interview with National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Farzad Mostashari, his top concern is how hospitals and practices embrace the spirit of the rule and use their technology to successfully engage patients.

From dollars to sense. Without patient engagement, meaningful use is meaningless. Without applying the patient information to the population served and working to improve outcomes and offering education and guidance – perhaps creating support groups for smokers wanting to quit or practice-sponsored nutrition plans for obese and diabetic populations – to patients, meaningful use is nothing more than a government-run plan to collect information about its citizen’s health.

Incentives aside, healthcare providers should wish to do no harm and use the information available to fully commit to embracing change through the technology and data available and do what they do best: care for and help provide health education to their patients, their customers.

In other words, to borrow a line from Mostashari, “If you treat meaningful use as work, you won’t get much out of it.”

One comment on “Meaningful Use: More than Meaningful Work”

Unfortunately, EHR use is not ready for prime time. I strongly urge the Federal Government refrain from encouraging EHR use until the common file format problem is solved. Having recently been orphaned by GE Centricity Advance, I now face the nearly unaffordable task of implementing a new EHR. There is no excuse for the lack of a law requiring the ability to save ALL data, EHR, PM, in common file format. Data could then be saved and re-opened in a different EHR or PM system. Furthermore, this would reduce the ability of vendors to hold practices hostage with ever increasing upgrade and support costs, full well knowing that changing to a new product has been rendered unaffordable (because of the cost of having to manually re-enter data). We don’t need MU 2, we didn’t need MU 1 and, until the above issue is addressed, we should not be jumping on the electronic health record bandwagon at all.

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