Meaningful Use final rule: 4 Tips for hospitals

Hospitals and physicians must be diligent in the implementation of their meaningful use business or strategic plan.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) recently unveiled modifications for the second stage and final rules for the third stage of the EHR incentive program.

Related:Meaningful use final rules: 3 things you need to know

As providers and healthcare systems work to digest the rules, here are a few key things to add to your meaningful use to-do list:

1. Update your meaningful use plan and integrate it into your broader strategic plan.

Alignment and prioritization of strategies into an organization’s strategic plan is critical to success of meaningful use objectives and timing.  Your meaningful use plan should include objectives, timelines, and internal and external accountabilities to drive departmental and organizational-wide improvement in functions and processes, as well as physician engagement. 

It should also include:

  • Measures of tangible and quantifiable success and targets beyond merely achieving meaningful use to help to clarify the vision (objectives for use of electronic health record (EHR)-generated information, rank order of priorities of objectives);

  • A commitment to assess progress and failures. Failure to achieve a target should trigger reexamination of its causes-was implementation too slow? Incomplete? Was the action successful, yet failed to generate desired outcome?

2. Check in with your EHR vendor. Stage 2 compliance is more difficult to achieve. Is your organization’s vendor capable of assisting with achievement of Stage 2? If not, you should consider switching vendors, perhaps to a cloud-based organization rather than a traditional EHR that may be more nimble and comprehensive than your existing vendor.

3. Increase physician engagement. Physician engagement is also critical to success of meaningful use objectives and timing. Physicians must be involved in the development and implementation of the meaningful use business or strategic plan. 


NEXT: Focus on the education and electronic access objectives


In order to understand and embrace the return-on-investment for expenditure of capital and time, physicians must be educated on how information will produce demonstrable and quantifiably better outcomes.  For instance, data gathered from EHRs will empower physician performance improvement. It must provide them with a better understanding of their patients’ diseases and how their treatments positively or negatively affect results; it may also mitigate their malpractice risks because it will be easier for physicians to access and review medical history, catch medication errors and adverse drug interactions, and track test results and ensure prompt, effective patient follow-up.

In addition, information from the EHR should help physicians obtain and quantify the risk/reward of treatment alternatives for themselves and patients.

4. Focus on the education and electronic access objectives.

The patient-specific education and patient electronic access objectives are among the most challenging provisions of Stage 2, however, if achieved and integrated into an organization’s strategic plan through its meaningful use business or strategic plan may have the biggest return on investment.

Providing information to patients will help them understand their diagnosis, treatment plans and risk, and therefore, they might be inspired to comply with treatment and to modify high-risk lifestyle choices. 

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Supplying information to patients could also improve patient satisfaction, as it will assist physicians in improving dialogue.

Finally, providing patients access to health education and information increases opportunities for continual improvement in patient-physician communication and interaction, and provides a mechanism for properly channeling the information viewed and how it is enhances involvement of physicians in interpreting such information for patients to produce the best outcomes:  clinically and from the patient’s perspective.

As healthcare becomes more competitive with fewer payers and providers, keeping patients satisfied is of utmost importance to maintain and increase market share.


Joseph M. Mack, MPA, is president, Joseph Mack & Associates, a managed care and value-based consultant.