The term "meaningful use" was the central focus of a government program introduced by the passing of the HITECH Act that aimed to encourage the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems along with new standards for data use. The Meaningful Use program guidelines set new standards for data privacy, security, and quality and also introduced concepts to improve care coordination, delivery, and engagement amongst patients and partners. Originally passed as part of the overall stimulus package, it went on to revolutionize healthcare providers utilizing technology.
While the federal program began its multi-stage program with Stage 1 in 2011, it has since been phased out and replaced with MACRA. The term "meaningful use" is still used to loosely define the acceptable utilization and management of patient health information.
The History of Meaningful Use
Between 2011 and 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) worked together to introduce the Meaningful Use program in three stages. With the help of incentive programs that encouraged the implementation of certified EHR technology (CEHRT) among other health IT advancements, the program successfully ushered in the widespread adoption of electronic patient information.
Meaningful Use set out to encourage the adoption of CEHRT in three stages. Physicians needed to attest that they were meeting the requirements of each stage in order to receive the funding passed through to them through Medicare or Medicaid. The three stages were as follows:
- Stage 1 - Promoted adoption of CEHRT by creating baseline requirements for EHR usage and patient access.
- Stage 2 - Encouraged the coordination of care and patient information exchange between various healthcare entities. Physicians had to be utilizing clinical decision support tools, improving care coordination, and engaging with patients.
- Stage 3 - Targeted interoperability and boosted the adoption of e-prescribing (eRx), computerized provider order entry (CPOE), patient portals, HIEs, and clinical data registries.
However, while the Meaningful Use program played a major role in advancing the U.S. healthcare system, it also created complexity for healthcare providers by requiring them to prove that their usage of patient information was indeed "meaningful" which sometimes presented an onerous task. As a result, Congress & CMS eventually overhauled the program and implemented the Quality Payment Program.
Since the federal program was overhauled, the term "meaningful use" no longer has a definitive meaning, but it is still widely used to imply that collaborative efforts between healthcare institutions should focus on the patient's best interest above all else.
Why Is Meaningful Use Important?
With greater emphasis being placed on how patient health information is collected, stored, and shared, the concept of "meaningful use" remains central to discussions on improving patient outcomes. Meaningful Use changed the way healthcare providers recorded patient information and maintained medical records. Without it, healthcare would not be nearly as technology-enabled as it is today.
How TempDev Can Help You Meaningfully Use Your EHR
TempDev’s team of experienced consultants, developers, and trainers is here to support enhanced accessibility and customized features and templates. This enables you and your patients to have more control over data with improved transparency.
As part of our streamlining process, we help you implement the Patient Portal, API, and other tools to better support safety, patient engagement, and security. TempDev offers the comprehensive resources and tools you need to ensure compliance from dashboards to automation and workflow redesign.
Contact us here or by calling us at 888.TEMP.DEV to ensure you're meaningfully using your EHR.
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