As EHR medical software experts, we know that electronic health records can be difficult to manage and even harder to understand. While we can’t cover everything you need to know about electronic health records in one blog post, we’re going to focus on the phrase “meaningful use” and its place in electronic health record management in today’s blog post.

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In 2009, the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) was enacted in order to upgrade and modernize various aspects of the nation’s infrastructure. Two of the aspects AARA aimed to improve and standardize are the storage and management of electronic health records. However, there was much more to the effort than simply organizing records and storing them more efficiently. The effort was primarily intended to improve patient care, and the phrase “meaningful use” was coined in order to promote better health outcomes.

Now that we’ve covered some of the relevant background, let’s look at what the words “meaningful use” mean in the context of electronic health records.

The phrase “meaningful use” dictates the standards by which electronic health records can be exchanged. These exchanges could be between two or more healthcare providers, between healthcare providers and insurance providers, and between healthcare and insurance providers and the patients they serve. In order to more effectively serve patients with quality care, five health outcome priorities were created. According to the CDC, they are as follows:

            1. Improving quality, safety, efficiency, and reducing health disparities
            2. Engage patients and families in their health
            3. Improve care coordination
            4. Improve population and public health
            5. Ensure adequate privacy and security protection for personal health information

As you might expect, a radical change in the way that electronic healthcare records are managed would be difficult to implement and could lead to logistical problems. In an attempt to counter this concern and encourage institutions to adopt or upgrade their EHR technology, the transition was divided into three distinct stages which began in 2011 and ended in 2015. Let’s look at each of these stages in more detail. 

Meaningful Use Stage 1

Meaningful Use Stage 1 (MUS1) was intended to promote widespread EHR adoption and data gathering. It established requirements for electronic clinical data and provided patients with access to copies of their health records.

MUS1 was comprised of 25 criteria and regulations established Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). 15 of these criteria and regulations were core requirements and the remaining 10 were menu requirements. It was mandatory to meet each core requirement, but health care providers were allowed to choose five of the 10 menu requirements.

Examples of core requirements include:

        • Maintaining active medication lists
        • Recording the smoking status of patients over the age of 13
        • Maintaining an updated list of past and current diagnoses
        • Recording and charting a patient’s weight, BMI, blood pressure, and other vital signs

Examples of optional menu items include:

        • Sending patients reminders for preventative and follow-up care
        • Creating lists of patients according to specific conditions
        • Using a certified EHR system to provide patients with educational resources
        • Providing a summary of care record whenever a patient transitions their care or is referred to another provider

Meaningful Use Stage 2

Meaningful Use Stage 2 (MUS2) featured the same core objectives outlined in MUS1 with an added emphasis on the exchange of clinical data between providers and the ability of patients to engage with their records and providers. The thresholds required to complete each objective were raised in order to extend the benefits of efficient and organized EHR processes to more patients and institutions. 

Let’s look at electronic prescriptions (eRx) as just one example of the requirement increase between MUS1 and MUS2. According to MUS1, at least 40% of eligible prescriptions needed to be submitted through certified EHR technology. MUS2 raised the threshold to at least 50%.

Meaningful Use Stage 3

The final rule on Meaningful Use Stage 3 (MUS3) was published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in October 2015. This stage included all of the requirements outlined in the previous two, as well as eight non-negotiable objectives intended to further improve patient health outcomes. Two examples you may have noticed in your visits to a health care provider include:

        • Patient electronic access: In an attempt to increase patient-provider engagement, EPs must provide at least 80% of patients with access and download their electronic health records. EPs are also required to provide at least 35% of their patients with educational data and resources.
        • Electronic prescribing: EPs must submit at least 80% of eligible prescriptions electronically for formaruly querying and general transmission to pharmacies.

Contact VersaSuite for a Free EHR Solution Demo

We hope that today’s post has helped you to better understand the complexities of EHR management and some of the history behind our nation’s current requirements. Come back to our blog page regularly for even more helpful resources and information.

If your hospital or medical institution needs an all-in-one EHR system that works for you, then contact a member of VersaSuite to learn more about how we can help. Our comprehensive EHR system makes it easy to manage your entire facility with customized forms and templates that work for you. Unlike other EHR solutions, VersaSuite doesn’t come with a high up-front price tag or outrageous monthly fees. All of the startup fees and implementation costs are included in a five-year subscription plan, allowing you to switch to VersaSuite without going over your institution’s budget. 

We also know that transitioning to a new EHR system isn’t easy, but our helpful team and easy-to-use software makes the entire transition process smooth and manageable.

Make a change to your EHR system that will benefit you and your patients in the long run. Switch to VersaSuite and let us show you why we’re the Top Rated National® hospital management system.