Best Practices for Complying With Meaningful Use Requirements

5-1PicFive years ago, it looked as if Electronic Health Records (EHRs) would change health care for the better.
The federal government’s official website for sharing educational materials and resources about health information technology was publishing stories about the benefits of electronic health records. Studies showed that most providers with EHR systems were experiencing success. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the EHR Incentive Program to encourage more groups to adopt electronic health records.

EHRs are an important tool to help improve the nation’s health care system. And they have. Nearly 80 percent of office-based physicians use some type of EHR, according to Healthcare IT News, and 70 percent of office-based physicians say they intend to participate in the EHR incentive program at some point.

Of course, any time the government introduces an incentive program there are sure to be requirements providers must meet in order to receive incentive payments.

In the case of the EHR Incentive Program, which is frequently called the Meaningful Use Program, providers must achieve 26 requirements in three stages over five years.

Comply and you could receive $44,000 over a five-year period. Miss the mark and your reimbursements could be “adjusted” down by one percent per year for five years.

Here is a look at some best practices designed to help you comply with some of the most challenging meaningful use requirements.
Get Organized Early

There is no such thing as a Meaningful Use “do-over.” If you miss a requirement, you can’t go back and make up for it. You simply have to hope it won’t keep you from receiving your incentive. Make sure you are organized, know exactly what you need to accomplish at each stage, and take steps early to work toward success.

Leverage the HITECH ACT

The Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) established regional health information technology centers across the country. These “extension centers” help providers overcome the challenges of demonstrating meaningful use. Take advantage of them.
Promote the Portal

Stage 2 requires that patients sign up for provider portal access. It’s a daunting requirement because your success is essentially out of your hands. That’s why it is so important to take every opportunity to promote your medical portal. Talk to patients about it; direct them to use your portal for making appointments. Keep your portal information fresh and up-to-date.

Meet Often

The Meaningful Use Incentive Program is complicated and changes frequently. One of the best ways to ensure that you and your staff are making progress toward compliance is to meet on a regular basis. Scheduling required, regular meetings is a great way to ensure you are on track to meet measures—and able to make changes if you are not on track.
Focus on the Simple Stuff

Some of the requirements appear to be basic, which makes them easy to overlook. Don’t. Make sure all criteria—even the simple stuff—is completed during each reporting period.

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