Everyone in the healthcare industry is talking about “Meaningful Use”. Many of us would have heard of this phrase but have no idea of what it really means.  Well, “Meaningful Use” of EHR technology is all about giving doctors and hospitals a platform to offer high-quality care to patients. Let us delve deep into it.

What is “Meaningful Use”?

“Meaningful Use” refers to a federal incentive program designed to promote the use of a certified EHR system in hospitals, clinics, and by other healthcare providers to significantly improve the efficiency, safety, and quality of care while also reducing health disparities. “Meaningful Use” was created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. However, in the year 2018, it was renamed as “Promoting Interoperability”, rendering the phrase “Meaningful Use” rather obsolete.

What is the aim of “Meaningful Use”?

As with any new technology, when EMR was first introduced many doctors and hospitals were hesitant to implement or learn it. They thought that it would be a waste of time and that the time and the effort spent in learning the new system could be spent caring for their patients. In order to encourage doctors and hospitals to transition to electronic health records, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has a provision to provide financial incentives to those doctors and hospitals who adopt the EHR technology. However, to qualify for this financial incentive, EHR users must achieve what is called “meaningful Use”. The word “meaningful” is important because they not only want healthcare providers to use the technology but also want them to use it effectively to achieve the goals they have set forth.

How to achieve “Meaningful Use”?

The implementation of EHR usage has been divided into three stages, in order to ensure that healthcare providers have enough time to thoroughly understand the technology, and use it appropriately.

  1. The primary goal of stage one is to encourage the use of a certified EHR system. This stage is pretty straightforward. It necessitates that healthcare providers begin using the technology to capture and store health information for a high percentage of their patient base. In addition, they should also make it a practice to share information with other providers via the electronic system.
  2. The second stage emphasizes using the data stored in a structured format in stage one. It requires healthcare providers to demonstrate that they have started using the data contained in the EHRs to diagnose and treat patients.
  3. The third and most comprehensive stage requires initiating various steps to improve overall health outcomes. Meaning with the EHR system now in place, this stage requires providing patients with tools for self-management, identifying national trends, and improving the efficiency and accuracy of patient care.

“Meaningful use” of electronic medical record-keeping is designed to benefit both the patient and the healthcare provider. From quick access to patient records and reduction of medical errors to improved patient safety and better patient engagement, the benefits of using an EHR in a meaningful way are simply amazing. And by achieving “Meaningful Use”, you get to reap significant benefits way beyond federal financial incentives.

The benefits of using an EHR in a meaningful way include quick access to patient records, reduction of medical errors, improved patient safety to better patient engagement. In addition, by achieving “Meaningful Use”, you get to reap significant benefits way beyond federal financial incentives.

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