With any decision related to electronic health records, many factors must be considered. Is the EHR affordable? Does it meld with practice workflow? Will it increase productivity and decrease redundancy? Does it integrate with patient portal and practice management?
The government has added another important factor to the mix—meaningful use. In fact, most practice looking for an EHR today won’t even consider buying unless the vendor is certified under the new 2014 requirements.
Sometimes, though, meaningful use gets a lot more attention than it should. Many approach meaningful use as the end prize, when it really should be the springboard that launches them into success. Before meaningful use, doctors had plenty of good reasons to adopt electronic health records technology, and those reasons haven’t changed. Doctors want to eliminate paper. They want to stay up to date with current trends. They want their practices to be profitable. For the best results, these goals should be aligned with meaningful use goals. This way, practices will get to take advantage of the incentives the government is dishing out and they’ll have a more strategic plan in place to help them continue to succeed after the incentives run out.
Farzad Mostashari, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and enthusiastic support of EHRs, often says that meaningful use should be a journey, not a destination. Practices that look at meaningful use as a means to an end, rather than the prize at the end of the tunnel, are much more successful in the long run. Many of the meaningful use regulations align with the vision behind EHRs, such as improving patient care and efficiency. Meaningful use is just one small piece that contributes to a practice’s EHR success, but when it is integrated with other pieces the practice is much more likely to achieve maximum success.