As with many aspects in life and technology, improvement is a necessity. In the realm of healthcare, advancements are a lifeline to bridging the old known way of doing things and the new betterment of organization that benefits all involved; truly to have meaningful use measures formed. This sort of change doesn’t come by making a couple of decisions; defined stages with deadlines must be established and then met by all Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). To better understand what it takes to be compliant with the predefined standards, we will step through stages and define them as they are currently identified.
Stage 1 has already occurred back between 2011 and 2012 where a baseline was instituted for the capture and sharing of electronic data. The government has defined the fundamental characteristics to meet meaningful use standards as:
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
In the health industry, this simply comes down to promote an accountable healthcare system within our communities. By utilizing the electronic health record (EHR) technology, health professionals can improve population health outcomes and still empower the patient in their care.
Stage 2 began in 2014 with the implementation of advancements to clinical processes. There are a number of core objectives that need to be met by eligible professionals to qualify as a meaningful use participant. Many of these objectives are to ensure rigorous health information exchanges, transmission of patient’s information is available to across multiple settings and that patients have more control over their electronic files and data (www.healthit.gov).
Stage 3 is still being defined/refined but should be available for implementation starting in 2017. This stage takes on the clinical decisions, patient self management and accessibility to all relevant dates. Overall, the concept being established include following the previous two stages more regularly with patients, and then employ further improvement in these areas:
1. Improving quality, safety, and efficiency, leading to improved health outcomes
2. Decision support for national high-priority conditions
3. Patient access to self-management tools
4. Access to comprehensive patient data through patient-centered HIE (health information exchange)
5. Improving population health
One of the most anticipated features that is being talked about within this stage is the recommendation that a drug to drug interaction list be maintained. This would make it possible for any prescriptions being made would be first compared with existing patient prescriptions to note if there are any drug interactions, especially those that are fatal.
Currently there are many pharmacies and healthcare professionals that are able to check interactions between drugs, but the current proposal is suggesting that an external source would be directed in maintaining all available medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, for their relative reactions to one another. This would then need to be readily accessible to all those involved with medical treatment.
Another anticipated feature in Stage 3 is that the patient will be more involved in their own care. That may seem like it is self-evident, but if you have ever tried to look at your medical records or get copies for personal use, you will understand that your information is highly guarded and may appear to be inaccessible. This does not mean that you will be diagnosing yourself and recommending a process of events, but it will allow you to be more aware of what is going on, what is available, and have the control to choose more freely that path that you might want to follow in your care.
I do want it understood that Stage 3 has not fully been established and most of it is not readily available for healthcare professionals to begin to implement. Even several objectives in Stage 2 are still considered floating targets and cannot be reached in the health industry. However, many in the industry are working hard with officials from different arms of the government to nail down the achievable goals and finally realize Stage 2 as a whole.
To have real-time data regarding a patient and a population can influence for the better decisions that are being made about our health treatment. When doctors and other professional staff members are able to see multi-dimensional reports, monitor clinical operations and truly find meaningful use within the data that is collected, there are unlimited benefits that can be seen and felt across many disciplines.