Three years ago, when the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) Act was passed, there was much speculation on how the $30 Billion incentive dollars would actually be used to achieve meaningful change in our healthcare system. Can the use of electronic health records drive a more efficient, quality focused health system that results in better health outcomes?
In my last post, I shared my thoughts on this much-anticipated “sequel,” Meaningful Use Stage 2. Here I’ve asked Catherine Costa, RN, MTM, to share her thoughts on the meaning of “meaningful” and where we’ve come since 2009.
Dr. Nayyar: Stage 2 seems like a very natural progression, to me. What are your thoughts on the transition?
Catherine: Since the HITECH act passed, we’ve established that there are technology solutions that can improve efficiencies as well improve and measure quality. And now, the Office the National Coordinator (ONC) has nicely transitioned from Meaningful Use Stage 1 to Stage 2. If you were diligent with your menu objectives for Stage 1, then more than half of your core objectives for Stage 2 would already be in place.
The pivot to Stage 2 shows a clear the transition from establishing the tools and infrastructure to collect the data, to the more meaningful task of establishing a way to really connect the data to those in the care continuum that need access. Now both eligible professionals and hospitals must provide online access to health information for more than 50% of their patients, and more than 5% must actually access the information. This creates an invaluable emphasis on education.
Dr. Nayyar: Can you give an example?
Catherine: As a labor and delivery nurse, I could give new moms access to invaluable information about what to expect when they leave the hospital. This empowers mothers to know more about what to expect from their newborn, as well as their own bodies. Labor and delivery is wonderful, truly magical. As part of the healthcare provider team in this space I am acutely aware of the delicacy — not only of the newborn, but also of the mother. A specific example would be a case where access to information regarding post-partum labor conditions could have saved a new mom from a near-fatal incident where she thought she has having “normal” post-labor uterine contractions. One week after giving birth, her husband brought her to the emergency room with borderline septicemia. She had retained placenta and the resulting massive infection required emergency surgery.
Dr. Nayyar: What makes this act “meaningful?”
Catherine: The intent of the act is for the patient to use the available data to address his or her medical needs and possibly change previous behavior resulting in a better health outcome. This is very significant. This is where we are setting the foundation for culture change, slowly opening the door for patient empowerment. To be truly meaningful, the healthcare system needs to bring the patient to the center of care. This is a process and will require time, tools, and a change in culture – everyone’s culture: patient, provider, and payer. I’m excited to see what Stage 3 will bring. I am hopeful it will continue to support the culture shift needed to fully realize the benefit of what a patient-centric change in healthcare can bring. That’s pretty meaningful.