We are all familiar with the clichéd argument for EMR adoption; “it is for the patients and improving the quality of care”. While it may be true to a certain extent, the practical implications are not as simplistic as in theory. A recently published report by the California Department of Health Care Services highlights the mounting concern of physicians failing to utilize EMRs in an effective manner. In order to ensure the optimum usage of EMRs, the government incentives for achieving meaningful use objectives are a step by step guide for medical professionals to achieve quality output through effective EMR utilization.
The government believes that meaningful use provides an effective connection between EMR technology and the outcome in form of improved healthcare. Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health IT specifically stated that achieving meaningful use is based on the outcomes. As a result, around 90% of hospitals CIOs suggest that meaningful use is amongst their top two priorities for the next few years.
“We have to measure what we are doing because you cannot fix what you cannot see”, said Mr. Mostashari, before adding “…you cannot know how many patients you are controlling blood pressure for if you have a room full of charts”. He goes on to explain the need for decision support system and structured data, and how meaningful use is enabling physicians to overcome this hurdle. By utilizing an EMR completely, physicians would be able to create lists and determine which patients need attention, and the system will provide alerts for irregularities such as high blood pressure, temperature, etc.
The average medical errors per year are close to 200,000, while medication errors have the largest share. Mr. Mostashari explained how meaningful use of e-prescribing can help physicians to curb these problems. By utilizing EMR based e-prescribing, physicians would be intimated for drug interactions and allergies, whilst pharmacists would be able to correctly prescribe the medication as the problem of ineligibility would be rightfully addressed.
“The health does not happen in the doctor’s office, it happens with the patient.” says Mr. Mostashari while expressing that meaningful use of EMRs and patient portals would allow patients to be kept in the loop, and with relevant educational material patients would be able to keep track of the recovery. Mr. Mostashari also added that information exchange is the key to developing healthcare and meaningful use will allow physicians to play an extended role while the care system shifts to pay for value, not volume. “Meaningful Use is the blue print of how to deliver better care, it also the blue print of how healthcare providers can thrive in the healthcare markets.” he concluded.