facebook Measures of Meaningful Use

Measures of Meaningful Use

Electronic health records provide instant access to patient information, improve coordination among healthcare providers, streamline administrative tasks, enhance data accuracy, offer clinical decision support, contribute to cost savings, promote patient involvement, and facilitate efficient reporting to public health agencies. Despite initial implementation costs, the long-term benefits make EHRs a valuable tool in modern healthcare.

For these reasons, the CMS developed standards of meaningful use designed to encourage healthcare providers to meet those criteria by offering incentive payments.

What Is Meaningful Use in Healthcare?

“Meaningful use” in healthcare refers to the utilization of electronic health records (EHRs) and other health information technology to improve patient care. It’s a set of criteria and standards established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States. Healthcare providers who meet these criteria and make meaningful use of EHRs are eligible for incentive payments.

What Is the Purpose of the Meaningful Use Program?

The program aims to enhance the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs. This includes using digital records to track and manage patient populations, exchanging health information electronically, and ensuring the privacy and security of patient data. The ultimate goal is to improve overall healthcare outcomes and promote a more connected and efficient healthcare system.

Meaningful Use in 2023 and Beyond

The CMS’ Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs ended in 2018. It was replaced with the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program, which is available to eligible hospitals and CAHs.

How Is Meaningful Use Measured?

Healthcare providers must meet a certain number of requirements in order to be eligible for the CMS incentives. They’re scored with a varying number of points per measure and providers must meet enough of these to total 60 of 100 possible points.

  • Electronic Prescribing Measures
    1. e-Prescribing (10 Points): Must transmit at least one discharge medication order must be queried for a drug formulary and then transmitted electronically.
    2. Query of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): Must conduct at least one PDMP query in the CEHRT for prescription drug history when prescribing a Schedule II opioid or a Schedule III or IV drug.
  • Health Information Exchange Objective Measures
    1. Support Electronic Referral Loops by Sending Health Information (15 Points):
    2. Support Electronic Referral Loops by Receiving and Reconciling Health Information (15 Points):
    3. Or Choose One of the Following (30 Points):
      • Health Information Exchange (HIE) Bi-Directional Exchange
      • Enabling Exchange under TEFCA
  • Provider to Patient Exchange Objective Measures
  • Provide Patients Electronic Access to Their Health Information (25 Points): Discharged patients are provided with timely access to their health information online, on an application, available for download, or transmitted electronically.
  • Public Health and Clinical Data Exchange Measures (25 Points for All)
    1. Immunization Registry Reporting: Must submit and receive immunization data and reports to and from a public health immunization registry/immunization information system.
    2. Syndromic Surveillance Reporting: Must submit emergency department syndromic surveillance reporting data.
    3. Electronic Case Reporting: Must submit a case report that includes all reportable conditions.
    4. Electronic Reportable Laboratory (ELR) Result Reporting: Must submit a report of ELR results.
    5. Public Health Registry Reporting (Bonus 5 Points): Must submit a report to a public health registry.
    6. Clinical Data Registry Reporting (Bonus 5 Points): Must submit a report to a clinical data registry.

Security Requirements for Meaningful Use Eligibility

In addition to earning enough points to qualify (60 points), hospitals and CAHs must also conduct a security risk analysis. This is not worth any points because it is required no matter what. Anyone seeking eligibility for meaningful use incentives must conduct a security risk analysis of the CEHRT and do the following:

  • Address encryption and data security
  • Apply security updates when needed
  • Correct any identified security issues
  • Review the security risk analysis process

Failing the security risk analysis requirements would result in ineligibility for the program.

Safer Guides Requirements for Meaningful Use Eligibility

Hospitals and CAHs must also meet the requirements of all 9 Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides to be eligible. These requirements are also not scored because they are required and failure would result in ineligibility for the program. CMS provides self-assessment guides for hospitals and CAHs to fill out on their own for the following topics:

  • High Priority Practices
  • Organizational Responsibilities
  • Contingency Planning
  • System Configuration
  • System Interfaces
  • Patient Identification
  • Computerized Provider Order Entry With Decision Support
  • Test Results Reporting and Follow-Up
  • Clinician Communication

Why Does CMS Offer Incentives for EHR Meaningful Use?

CMS offers incentives to qualifying hospitals to encourage the switch to electronic health records over paper records. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) offer several advantages over traditional paper-based health records. Here are some reasons why EHRs are considered better:

  1. Accessibility: EHRs provide instant access to patient information, allowing healthcare providers to retrieve and update records quickly. This can be crucial in emergency situations or when immediate access to medical history is needed.
  2. Coordination of Care: EHRs facilitate better coordination among healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care. Multiple healthcare professionals can access and contribute to the same electronic record, ensuring that everyone has the most up-to-date information.
  3. Efficiency: EHRs streamline administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling and billing. This can lead to improved efficiency in healthcare practices, allowing providers to focus more on patient care.
  4. Data Accuracy: EHRs reduce the risk of errors associated with manual recordkeeping. Automated systems help maintain accurate and legible information, minimizing the chances of mistakes in diagnoses, prescriptions, and treatment plans.
  5. Clinical Decision Support: EHRs often include features like clinical decision support tools, helping healthcare providers make informed decisions by providing relevant information and alerts about potential issues or interactions.
  6. Cost Savings: While the initial investment in EHR implementation can be significant, the long-term cost savings can be substantial. Electronic records reduce the need for physical storage space, decrease paper and printing costs, and improve overall operational efficiency.
  7. Patient Involvement: EHRs can enhance patient engagement by providing individuals with easy access to their health information. Patients can view test results, schedule appointments, and communicate with their healthcare providers through secure online portals.
  8. Public Health Reporting: EHRs enable the efficient reporting of data to public health agencies, contributing to disease surveillance, research, and overall public health improvement.

Security in Electronic Health Records

While EHRs offer numerous benefits, it’s essential to address challenges such as data security and interoperability to ensure their optimal use in healthcare settings. This is why the CMS requires security risk analyses separate from the points system. A failure in the security assessment would result in ineligibility from the incentive program until the security issues were addressed.

In Summary

The CMS developed meaningful use standards to encourage healthcare providers to adopt EHRs, offering incentive payments based on meeting specific criteria. The program aims to enhance healthcare quality, safety, and efficiency through the meaningful use of EHRs, promoting patient engagement and public health reporting. Hospitals and CAHs can qualify for the incentives by meeting certain requirements outlined by CMS.