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You’re taking all the necessary steps to meet the requirements for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology to improve patient care and qualify for the financial incentives from the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. For most of you, this has required implementing new or updating current technology. In addition, to show that you are meaningfully using your EHR and receive EHR incentive payments, you have to meet certain quantitative objectives that are phased in three stages, with each stage increasing the requirements. Further, you must prove you are demonstrating meaningful use every year to receive an incentive and avoid a Medicare payment adjustment.

Achieving Meaningful Use (MU) has required you to not only implement specific technology but continuously prove you are using it in a “Meaningful” way. You’re investing a great deal of time as well as money, but the question is: Are you getting any benefit? (Other than the incentives, of course.) Are you getting the benefit you expect from all this time and effort? This question goes beyond whether you are getting any ROI, which I questioned in my last blog, “Are you realizing the full value of your technology?”

Your staff is consumed and under the gun with trying to not only achieve MU but meet MU deadlines. Is your organization being distracted from other things you should be doing? How much of your critical to-do list is getting pushed out because of MU? Are you delaying projects that might enhance patient care, safety or satisfaction, or that might complement or enhance your MU technology?

Speaking with healthcare organizations, especially over the past 18 – 24 months, we are struck by their need to push aside other projects in order to accommodate MU projects and timeframes. MU incentives are important, but are these projects being looked at in the context of all your priorities?

Yes, you need to focus on achieving MU to get incentives and obtain maximum Medicare reimbursements. But is achieving Meaningful Use allowing you to do what you really need to do to provide optimal patient care? Please tell us your thoughts on this subject.

Arthur Young

Arthur Young is a visionary healthcare information systems entrepreneur who has focused Interbit Data’s offerings on providing secure and reliable methods of connecting users with HCIS information. Prior to founding Medical Systems Solutions (the precursor to Interbit Data) in 1997, Arthur spent 10 years with MEDITECH and three years at JJWild.