Meaningful Use: The Job Doesn't End at EHR Integration and Interoperability
At 11:59 PM on December 31, a glittering ball will drop above Times Square signaling the start of a new year. For hospitals, that precise time represents something else — it’s the EHR meaningful use deadline for Medicare-eligible organizations.
This year, attesting to Stage 2 meaningful use has been especially challenging because of integration and interoperability difficulties. Many have expressed frustration — from congressional members to individual health care providers. In a press release earlier this year, American Medical Association President Robert J. Wah, MD, said, “The whole point of the EHR Incentive Program was to build an interoperable health IT infrastructure that would allow for the routine exchange of important medical information across settings and providers and put medical decision-making tools in the hands of physicians and patients, yet that vision is not being realized and the lack of interoperability is stifling quality improvement.”
Yet, even when health care systems are able to overcome those hurdles, they need to demonstrate the ability to make use of the health care data systems to drive patient engagement and positively impact population health.
The “Show Me State” Supports Meaningful Use Efforts
The Missouri Health Connection (MHC) is the state’s health information exchange (HIE). Like other HIEs across the country, it has faced an uphill trek in its efforts to support data sharing among disparate EHR systems.
In an interview with EHR Intelligence, MHC CEO Mark Pasquale discussed how the organization was able to successfully achieve on-demand, bi-directional data exchange — and how it is supporting providers around the state in their own journeys toward meaningful use.
Crucial to MHC’s success is the collaboration between HIE developer, InterSystems and EHR developer, NextGen.
According to Pasquale, the two developers “… went through the entire specification [of HIE standards] and aligned them so that the understanding of what was occurring on InterSystems HealthShare and NextGen sides were in sync.”
Meaningful use requirements related to public health reporting and secure direct messaging are helping to spur on efforts to achieve interoperability. Pasquale sees similar collaborative efforts taking shape as vendors look towards the Stage 3 meaningful use standards. And recognizing that some hospitals lack the dedicated IT resources to focus on interoperability alone, MHC is putting its own experience to work for health care providers across the state, streamlining the process of achieving true data exchange.
Pasquale noted that they’ve been a valuable resource for organizations that are going through acquisitions, saying, “If you have a merger between two groups, we provide a nice bridge that allows interoperability and connectivity between the two new partners.”
Interoperability has been a significant hindrance in achieving Stage 2 meaningful use. According to CMS data, fewer than 17 percent of hospitals had met Stage 2 requirements in September of this year. Even as the demands for data exchange are being met, hospitals must focus their sights on other prerequisites to meet the meaningful use deadline.
Beyond Interoperability – Leveraging Health IT Systems Data
Stage 2 has a number of requirements related to patient engagement. According to the HIMSS, these include providing timely online access to personal health information and engaging more than 5 percent of all unique patients to leverage the online access to view, download or transmit personal health information to a third party. Moreover, while the CMS has delayed implementation of Stage 3 meaningful use until 2017, hospitals must be moving towards the expected Stage 3 criteria if they hope to achieve the improved outcomes that are inherent in that stage.
As we’ve previously discussed, simply building a patient portal or providing educational materials will not drive engagement. In order to effectively leverage the health systems data being gathered, hospitals must understand the needs and motivations of their patients.
While hospitals that are demonstrating meaningful use will have demographic and clinical information available, many lack the insights that can ensure greater patient activation.
With more than 15 million data points on health care consumers in the US, the c2b solutions Consumer Diagnostic — when used in conjunction with our proprietary psychographic segmentation model — helps health care providers gain actionable insights to help them meet meaningful use deadlines.
Psychographic segmentation allows hospitals to identify five distinct types of health care consumers and develop targeted campaigns to appeal to each segment’s unique motivations and preferences — such as which patients are most likely to take advantage of online patient portals with minimal encouragement and which patients will need a more hands-on approach to drive online engagement.