‘Meaningful Use’ Eludes Providers

By John Pulley

Health-care providers still have a lot of work to do to meet key health IT requirements expected under the government’s Stage 2 “meaningful use” standard, a new industry report finds.

CSC, an IT consulting firm based in Falls Church, Va., says the following essential areas require immediate attention:

  • Electronic patient access to personal health information.
  • Electronic capture of physician notes, including diagnosis and treatment, and rationale for excluding patients from treatment recommendations.
  • Electronic exchange of patient information from one provider to another.

“The importance of these requirements goes beyond meeting the incentives for meaningful use,” writes CSC’s Erica Drazen, author of “Moving Ahead with Stage 2 of Meaningful Use.” Patients need access to their records to become accountable for their care, she writes, and accountability of providers rests on their being able to share patient information with one another.

Only 12 percent of hospital chief information officers in a survey said they were prepared to allow patients to view and download their information; 24 percent said they couldn’t yet transmit summary-of-care records when a patient left the hospital. And only 25 percent said they can meet proposed Stage 2 requirements for electronic physician notes.

The problem is twofold, they said: vendor products and operational readiness.

Expected Stage 2 goals for electronic medication administration (eMar) have been easier to reach, with 86 percent of the survey’s respondents saying they are prepared to implement eMar in at least one hospital unit, as required.

The report combines information from early attesters to meaningful use with results of a survey of CIOs belonging to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

Final rules for Stage 2 meaningful use are supposed to be published in July, but a delay is likely because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services missed a December 2011 target date for releasing an early version of the rules.

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