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Trying to Put the "Meaning" in Meaningful Use

High noon for federal health records program? 2015 will be a critical year for testing the system is an eye opening article. Arthur Allen gives a critical analysis of the whole dilemma regarding the value of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) based on the present financial incentives.

The article explains the motivation of institutions to digitalize medical records, which primarily are two: money (potentially lost) and fear (of future penalties for not abiding by the complex rules the government has created).

Meaningful Use Objectives are defined in the chart below:

1. Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities

2. Engage patients and family

3. Improve care coordination, population and public health

4. Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Ultimately, it is hoped that meaningful use compliance will result in:

1. Better clinical outcomes

2. Improved population health outcomes

3. Increased transparency and efficiency

4. Empowered individuals

5. Robust research data on health systems

The intent of MU is good, but the reality is very different. For one thing, "meaningful" depends on perspective. That is, for a clinical user, meaningful is a different animal than it is for administrators, and for CMS, meaningful is a wholly different species. Providers want usable data that supports direct patient care; they dislike having to capture endless streams of data for clinical irrelevancies.

So let's ask the following- since the bottom line is that everyone wants better care, what a clinician finds meaningful while providing that care:

1. Easy access to all relevant data in a recognizable format

2. Advisory alerts when appropriate

3. Clinical decision support

4. CPOE (computerized order entry system) that is universal and not totally provider driven- (Where have all the ward clerks gone?)

5. Insert your own here "xxx"

The government is looking for data to make political, cost, and cultural changes. One unintended result is a new industry, a new unregulated "profession", medical scribe and that has certainly raised costs. Along the same lines, CPOE has led to more tests, which equals more costs.

We at Xpress Technologies will continue to do our best to provide user friendly products for the health-care market.

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