By: Heidi Kemp, Vice President, EHR Initiatives Group
With meaningful use upon us, hospitals are eager to demonstrate the 19 measures (24 total) set forth by the government to receive monetary supplements that will help offset the cost of the electronic health record (EHR). The Stage 1 objectives can be met fairly easily with education, process change, documentation and proper utilization of the HMS system. Keep in mind, however, that setting a strong foundation in Stage 1 is the best way to ensure future success in Stages 2 and 3.
An important decision needs to be made early in the process about how meaningful use will be governed and managed in your hospital. As we work with our customers, we have encouraged them to consider Stages 2 and 3 draft requirements in their plans and the intent for each objective.
For example, in Stage 1, tallying computerized provider order entry (CPOE) usage by hospitalists and surgeons only will meet the measurement of 30 percent for most sites. Will that strategy work when the threshold is raised to 60 percent? To 80 percent? As you read the rule, it becomes apparent that this is a ramp-up to move to complete usage of CPOE.
A key mistake that many hospitals make is to make meaningful use a one-time IT initiative with minimal clinician involvement. While the first step on the path to being a meaningful user involves procuring certified EHR technology, meaningful use requires clinical process change, policy revision and further education. This falls outside the scope of practice for the IT department and requires a high level of input from nursing leaders. Addressing this from the start will help your hospital achieve Stage 1 more effectively while laying the foundation to succeed in latter stages when the measurements are raised.
A great way to engage your clinicians is to form a focused meaningful use steering committee. Don’t present meaningful use as a reporting exercise or another software release. The executive sponsor should invite clinicians and IT leaders with a part in meaningful use, each of whom is responsible for understanding and reading the detail behind the objectives that they are assigned. This will ensure that proper clinical process change, education and visibility occur throughout your hospital.
Demonstrating meaningful use requires the talent of IT and clinicians working together. Build the foundation early in Stage 1 for this to be a collaborative effort with clinicians heavily involved. Setting the stage right from the start will help you achieve success later as we move forward together on this exciting journey!
Frank Newlands, M.D.