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Achieving and Sustaining Meaningful Use

Hospitals have invested enormous amounts in terms of Financial and Human resources in the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Whilst some hospitals are receiving Meaningful Use Vanguard Awards and being recognized as leaders in achieving Meaningful Use (MU), others are struggling to chart a path to Meaningful Use. A common struggle is to define how MU fits into their regular clinical workflows and how they will sustainably meet the compliance requirements.

Against this backdrop, MU Stage 2 deadlines are already upon us. Stage 2 moves from structured data and checklist thinking to applied use of data, including ongoing data exchange, longitudinal care plans and evidence based clinical support. Stage 3 will build upon this and emphasize quality of care and improvement of population health. Perhaps the way to meaningfully include MU within the daily operations of hospitals is to look at each objective in the context of the overall goal that is being targeted by each measure. The understanding of this context and why the objective is being enforced can perhaps be better understood when we have clarity on what CMS’s rationale was for each MU Objective and the respective measures.

As the source systems for data required for each stage of Meaningful Use change, the need for integration and interoperability amongst these systems or at least the ability to meaningfully aggregate data across various hospital IT systems becomes even more important.

Various challenges exist in the adoption and sustenance of Meaningful Use, however there is no doubt that when technology is thoughtfully implemented, real benefits can be delivered to patients and the provider organizations as a whole. We think that a clear understanding of what drives each MU measure will lead to a more thoughtful and ultimately more sustainable Meaningful Use initiative for providers.

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