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Meaningful Use

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Meaningful Use is a hot topic in the world of health information technology. In terms of EHR, the meaning is clear—you are using the EHR for the purpose it was created for. You are using it to improve quality of care and patient safety, and you are doing so in accordance with all of the applicable rules and regulations.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) further defines Meaningful Use:

  • Using certified EHR in a meaningful manner
  • Using certified EHR to be able to access and exchange patient information to improve the quality of care
  • Using certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality measures (CQM)

How do you “meaningfully use” EHRs? The government has a three-stage definition of Meaningful Use. The stages expand and broaden as they continue. Keep in mind that the definition for Meaningful Use continues to evolve and change, so expect revisions. Your incentive dollars are dependent on following through with these stages:

I. Stage 1: You put health information in an electronic format. You use this information to monitor your patient’s conditions, communicate the information to coordinate patient care, and report quality measures and public health information.

II. Stage 2: Now we’re expanding a bit into more general health care management. This stage includes parameters for disease management, medication management, assisting patients in accessing their health information, communicating with public health agencies, and implementing quality measures and research.

III. Stage 3: Here, we’re talking long-term. This stage covers long-term strategies for health care professionals. Meaningful Use in this stage is defined by planning for quality and safety improvements, working toward greater efficiency, improving patient engagement, and working toward improving health outcomes for the population at large.

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