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Understanding HITECH Compliance and Meaningful Use Objectives

Posted by Cassie Breen on Thu, Dec 05, 2013 @ 14:12 PM

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act allows the Department of Health & Human Services to establish programs promoting health IT, including electronic health records (EHR) and secure electronic health information exchange.  Under the HITECH Act, eligible health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.  These payments are received when they adopt certified EHR technology and achieve specified objectives.

Four regulations have been released that providers must meet in order to qualify for the bonus payments; two of which define the “meaningful use” objectives.  The goal of meaningful use is to promote the spread of EHRs to improve healthcare in the US.  Meaningful Use requires that providers send reminders to patients for preventive and follow-up care using the communication methods preferred by patients.  Some of these communication methods may include email, voice and SMS text messaging.

EHRs can provide many benefits for providers and their patients, depending on how their used.  According to , the benefits of the meaningful use of EHRs include:appointment reminders resized 600

  • Complete and Accurate Information:  This gives health are providers the information they need to provide quality care to patients using electronic health records.  Healthcare providers have greater knowledge about their patients’ health and health history before they are seen.

  • Better Access to Information: EHRs give healthcare providers access to the information needed to diagnose health problems earlier and allow information to be shared with greater ease among medical offices and health systems.

  • Patient Empowerment: Electronic health records empower patients to become more aware and involved in their health and the health of their families.  EHRs can receive electronic copies of their medical records and securely share their health information with their families.

Many healthcare providers have already become active participants in the EHR Incentive Program and have met the criteria for Meaningful Use Stage 1 for two to three years.  The next steps for these participants is moving onto Meaningful Use Stage 2 starting in 2014.

In Meaningful Use Stage 1, the criteria focused on:

  • Electronically capturing health information in a standardized format.

  • Using that information to track key and clinical conditions.

  • Communicating that information for care coordination processes.

  • Initiating the reporting of clinical quality measures and public health information.

  • Using information to increase patient engagement with patients and their families.

  • Patients who are aged 65 or older and 5 or younger.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 extends into criteria such as:

  • More rigorous health information exchange.

  • Increased requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results.

  • Electronic transmission of patient-controlled data.

  • Extends patient reminders to all patients.

Some providers have experienced trouble meeting this requirement for a variety of reasons: need for training, work flow adoption, and vendor issues.  Utilizing an automated notification system can help your medical practice follow HITECH rules and increase patient communication. 

Learn more about Alert Solutions’ Patient Communication Suite.

Topics: Medical, patient communication, patient satisfaction

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