Meaningful Use in the Changing Face of Health Care

When the federal government passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, included in it was a plan to reward health care professionals and hospitals for the “meaningful use” of electronic health records, or EHRs. Electronic health records have been called by various terms and phrases. You may have heard of “electronic medical records” (or EMRs), and they are essentially the same thing. In the federal bill, these electronic tools for patient care information, such as software programs, are referred to as EHRs.
There are many reasons to use EHRs to benefit patients, and there is a reason that the federal government included them in its Recovery Act. Basically, not only does EHRs increase patient care and safety, but also the use of EHRs affects the IT industry. Thus, both the health care and information technology industries can benefit from the use of these tools.
“Meaningful use” is a term used in the Recovery Act that describes the necessary criteria for the government to provide financial incentives to those doctors and hospitals using the technology. Essentially, doctors and health care professionals cannot just say that they are using the new technology; they will have to demonstrate to the federal government that they are making “meaningful use” of these tools. When they do, then they will be rewarded for it through various phases of financial incentive.
Predictably, the federal government will implement these respective incentive plans through both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Basically, if they want financial incentives, then health care professionals will have to prove annually to the federal government that they are making “meaningful use” of the new technology. Providers must continue to refine software capabilities and performance. The idea is that there will be both maximum efficiency in patient care as well as economic growth in the IT industry.
One specific example of the criteria for “meaningful use” is that health care providers will have to electronically record a certain percentage of various types of orders, whether they are prescriptions, referrals to specialists, or different kinds of therapy. Another What Is Eating Healthy example of the government’s criteria for “meaningful use” is that providers will have to keep a running, comprehensive record of each patient’s medications, diagnoses, and presenting-problems. These are just a few of the criteria the Recovery Act makes explicit.
For the most part, these criteria are not new responsibilities to health care professionals because doctors already check for contraindications between medications, consider allergic reactions, and keep notes about presenting-problems and diagnoses. Cincinnati Children’S Hospital Address EHRs only maximize the quality and clarify the way in which health care professionals do their jobs, while “meaningful use” only sets federal standards for what is required to receive financial incentives for successfully using EHRs.

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