Meaningful Use: New Standards to Govern Use of Electronic Health Records

October 1, 2018 By aornpittsburgh

A set of standards were written by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Program to govern the use of electronic health records. These standards known as Meaningful Use are used to allow eligible providers and hospitals to earn incentive payments (www.healthit.gov). As eligible professionals and hospitals adopt, implement or upgrade certified electronic health record technology, they can receive up to $44,000 through Medicare EHR Incentive program and up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program (www.cms.gov). The EHR Incentive Program provides incentive payments for eligible healthcare providers to use EHR technology in ways that can positively impact patient care.

This incentive program was established to encourage the promotion of health IT, including electronic health records and private and secure electronic health information exchange (www.healthit.gov). The government is encouraging the development and implementation of the EHR because of its many benefits. One of the benefits is the access to complete and accurate medical history; providers have the information they need to provide the best possible care. Another benefit to the EHR is that the healthcare worker has better access to information that can be used to diagnose health problems earlier and improve the health outcomes of their patients. EHR also allows for information to be easily shared between doctor’s offices and hospitals which may lead to better coordination of care. Patients may take a more active role in their care, because of the EHR; they have more access to their records (www.healthit.gov). Meaningful Use was developed to promote the use of EHR in order to improve health care in the United States.

Twenty four meaningful use objectives were developed. In order to qualify for an incentive payment, nineteen of these objectives must be met (CMS Program For Meaningful Use, 2011, p. 4). There are fourteen required core objectives and then of the remaining ten objectives, five must be selected. These objectives are focused on improving the quality of care. This improvement can be obtained by increasing safety and efficiency while still maintaining patient privacy of their personal health information (CMS Program For Meaningful Use, 2011, p. 5). The intention of this program is to encourage engagement of patients and their families and to improve public health.

The Association of periOrerative Registered Nurses (AORN) is a non-profit membership association based in Denver, Colorado representing more than 160,000 nurses (www.aorn.com). Its mission is to promote safety and optimal outcomes for patientsnundergoing operative and other invasive procedures by providing practice support and professional developmentnopportunities to perioperative nurses. On the issue of Meaningful Use, AORN recommends that healthcare organizations recognize the importance of nurse involvement in the selection and implementation of technology (www.aorn.com). It is their position that any plan should acknowledge that nurses have a profound impact on the quality and effectiveness of health care, and their knowledge should be used when making EHR decisions.

The Federal Government in order to encourage the standardization of the use of the EHR, created the Meaningful Use program (CMS ProgramFor Meaningful Use, 2011, p. 3). To receive funds, health care providers must show that they are using certified EHR technology. This technology must help provide patient care information for point of care decisions that can be measured in quality and quantity. In order for this program to be a success, the health care institution must secure buy-in from the hospital staff and physicians.

About the author: Susan Ober wrote this article as an educational piece for nurses. Susan is the current Vice President of AORN of Pittsburgh. She was the recipient of our chapter’s annual scholarship of $500 last year for her continuing education towards her advanced degrees.

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