Meaningful use attestation is the promise and demonstration of better utilization of healthcare information and EHR technology by healthcare facilities and industry professionals.
Healthcare organizations and eligible professionals must successfully comply with meaningful use attestation guidelines and objectives to be eligible for incentive payments through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Eligible professionals who are subject to meaningful use attestation run the gamut of the medical profession, including doctors, nurses and all other certified or licensed healthcare workers.
Three Stages of Meaningful Use Attestation
The policy was contained in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Healthcare Act of 2009 (HITECH) and is to be implemented over a five year period, incrementally, in three distinct stages.
- Stage 1 involves data capture and sharing.
- Stage 2 encompasses advanced clinical processes.
- Stage 3 covers improved outcomes.
For an eligible professional or healthcare facility to successfully demonstrate meaningful use attestation, they must achieve the individual goals of each stage within the time allotted, adopting and integrating each into their organization and processes before proceeding to the next stage.
Meaningful Use Stage One
Stage 1 employs a standardized format to capture healthcare information, utilizing computer technology and protocols to use the information to track key clinical conditions, then communicate that information for care coordination processes. Stage 1 further encourages the reporting of clinical quality measures and the use of healthcare information to engage patients and their families in the patient’s care.
This requires the successful completion of specific core objectives. Although core objectives are mandatory, healthcare organizations and eligible professionals can choose the objectives that meet their individual criteria.
Meaningful Use Stage Two
Stage 2 focuses on a more rigorous exchange of health information. Many of the stage 1 objectives are core objectives of stage 2. There are increased requirements for e-prescribing and the secure use of electronic messaging of patient care summaries across multiple settings with improved patient controlled data. Other main objectives include giving patients the ability to securely view their records online, as well as allowing them to download and submit their information electronically.
Meaningful Use Stage Three
Stage 3 of meaningful use attestation includes improved quality, safety and efficiency, and the ability to support national high-priority conditions. Inherent in this stage are increased patient access to self-management tools and access to comprehensive patient data throug patient-centered health information exchanges (HIE). The resultant goal is a simple one: to improve the health of the population and advance the use of health IT for information exchange and improved patient outcomes.
Building the Infrastructure
IT plays a critical role in this policy implementation. Meaningful use qualification would be impossible without a solid IT infrastructure. The creation of multidisciplinary teams for planning workflow and monitoring performance is essential for compliance since every core, menu and clinical quality measure have similar criteria.
CMS.gov, a federal government website managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, sees a real world impact of meaningful use by delivering better care and creating greater efficiencies. According to the site, more than 190 million electronic prescriptions have been sent by eligible professionals for their patients. Medication reconciliations were performed on over 40 million patient transitions of care by 83,035 eligible professionals. Similar statistics exist in every aspect of meaningful use attestation.
Nothing exists in a vacuum, least of all the healthcare profession. Acceptance of the meaningful use attestation paradigm holds great promise for the future of patient care. Employing both retrospective data and its real-time counterpart, the interaction of patient and professional can become a more efficient, proactive and interactive process producing a better quality of healthcare for all participants.