Customer Experience and Design

Meaningful Use, Getting some real usefulness for your organization

Ok, we have all been hearing, reading and discussing Meaningful Use for over a year now. ARRA this, HITECH that, I’m sure everyone is ready for a change. However it doesn’t look like it will be going away any time soon (if ever), so the real question is how does your organization get real value from the opportunity being presented with the minimal expense and risk.

From all the hospitals and physician practices that I work with and have spoken to, the reaction to Meaningful Use ranges from ‘my vendor will fix it’ to ‘it is impossible to do’ to ‘we have it under control’. Most are not asking how they fundamentally change the way they interact with their consumers, how can they strengthen physician relations, or can we (finally) use analytics and clinical decision support to provide more effective and efficient care.

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For those organizations that are tackling CPOE and have already invested heavily in technology and workflow transformation , the task looks less daunting. For those that have not, and often for good reasons, the road looks a lot tougher.

Yes, there is a lot of work to do, and Yes, it isn’t easy. However, the majority of organizations can do this, and they can do it in a way that is strategic and moves them forward in the eyes of their community and clinicians, increasing organization competitiveness and viability.

Here are a few suggestions that can help you get the most value for your organization.

  1. First, set a realistic timeline for your organization. Very few organizations are going to start getting paid come October 2010 (congrats to those who are!). But if you can be ready in early 2012, you can still get most of the dollars (minus 12 months or so of net present value/cost of money). So you really have 24-36 mos to go do this before losing significant opportunity. Don’t let the timeline get in the way of your long term success.
  2. Second, don’t expect your EHR/EMR vendor to do it all. They will tell you they can, but it will be a rocky, expensive ride, and probably not the best long term solution for your organization. After doing this for 20 years, I have been on both sides of those conversations. Believe me the vendor needs to focus on executing in their areas of core competency and not trying to sell you the next greatest module and/or expensive upgrade.
  3. Third, think of this in terms of building blocks, remember the proposed rule allows you to combine ‘EHR modules’ to assemble the ‘certified EHR technology’. Leverage your local HIE for some components, enhance your portal, do what makes sense in the context of your long term strategy. You’re current EMR solution may be sufficient for Stage 1 combined with other EHR modules, so don’t necessarily rush into a major upgrade.
  4. Fourth, focus your team on those areas that have the highest risk and impact to your business. The areas around computerized provider order entry, medications, documentation, etc, directly impact your Clinicians and require significant workflow considerations in your core business. Spend your time there. Use partners to solve the other areas like analytics and reporting, patients’ electronic access to their health information, testing a health information exchange transactions, etc.
  5. Finally, make sure you a have robust program management approach in place. There are a lot balls in the air that need to be managed, along with all the other ‘have-to-dos’ that keep you and your team busy day in and day out. This is an incremental investment, albeit relatively small compared to the risk/benefit.

Achieving meaningful use is not going to be easy, but it is achievable with some creativity, hard work, and strong partners on your side. We all just need to roll up our sleeves and get to work, because after all the debate and consternation, after it is all said and done…. more is said than done. I would like to see a lot more done.

Come see Perficient at HIMSS March 1 – 4, 2010, in Atlanta, GA. We’ll be at Booth 9049, and it would be great to hear how your organization is achieving meaningful use. I would love to share with you my thoughts.

About the Author

With almost 20 years experience assisting healthcare organizations to effectively use information technology, Tim is experienced in IT strategic planning, electronic health records, CPOE, ARRA/HITECH, meaningful use, health information exchanges and large-scale project management.

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