September 16, 2010

Meaningful Use: A Patient Perspective

Meaningful use articles in healthcare. From MD News and also HealthData Management. How self-service is a part of that equation.

MD News - Meaningful Use: A Patient Perspective

By: Newt Gingrich and Jeffrey Kao
Monday, September 13 2010

As health care providers prepare to meet meaningful use guidelines defined for EHR adoption, health care consumers seek providers who approach “meaningful use,” from the patient perspective.

Electronic Health Records (EHR) have been in the news a lot lately. With the goal of improving the quality and efficiency of health care, the federal government recently issued guidelines to determine whether health care providers are eligible for financial incentives pending “meaningful use” of this new technology. These guidelines include physician order entry, e-prescribing, reporting of quality standards, and interoperability.

But what about the patient? What kind of technologies does the American health care consumer find meaningful, and won’t it be equally critical to support the adoption of technologies that engage patients in their care?”

According to a new Harris Interactive poll, 175 million adults are now using the Internet to find health-related information. We use technology to search for health care that fits our specific, personal needs. We seek out providers who post lab results on a secure patient portal and utilize electronic prescribing. We select hospitals which have the lowest infection rates or facilities that provide the highest quality care at the lowest price around a specific treatment or disease state. We are a generation of health care consumers who expect our health care team to incorporate technology solutions into their practice, thereby reducing errors and improving convenience for us as a patient.

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may not reimburse physicians and hospitals at an enhanced level if they directly involve their patients through self-serve or online solutions, many forward-thinking health care providers are implementing technologies that directly engage patients in their own care and treatment.

Even as health care providers prepare to meet the new meaningful use guidelines, patients and their caregivers are beginning to look for providers who incorporate convenience and technology solutions or, in other words, “meaningful use,” from the patient perspective.

Self-service technology has become virtually commonplace throughout our daily lives. From banking, to retail to travel, we expect to be able to conduct an increasing number of interactions online, at a self-service kiosk or on our mobile device. Not surprisingly, patients are now demanding that same convenience of their health care providers. The growing use of patient-facing technologies, including self-service kiosks, patient portals and personal health records, indicates individuals are taking a more active role in managing their health care.

Implementing technology that further engages patients will not only improve the patient experience, it will improve the bottom line. As health care reform takes hold, reducing costs will be a critical barometer of success. Administrative costs currently account for 7 percent of health care expenditures each year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. As an estimated 34 million previously uninsured Americans begin to access our health care system, these costs are is likely to grow if technology doesn’t offset the increased volume. Automating routine health care transactions by allowing patients to pre-register, schedule appointments and pay bills how and when it is most convenient for them can significantly reduce administrative costs while streamlining the anticipated increase in patient flow.

Getting patients engaged up front may also help minimize consumer skepticism of adopting electronic health records. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, only 26 percent of respondents said they want their medical records digitized and 40 percent believe they will result in more efficient care delivery. Giving patients greater access to and control over managing their health information can allay those concerns while supporting the ultimate objectives of an EHR, which are to enhance the efficiency and quality of care, by improving the accuracy of patient data, and creating a truly paperless workflow.

Because of new incentives available to physicians from Medicare or Medicaid, there will continue to be a large migration to patient-focused EHRs. But as the adoption rate of EHR technology applications increases, physicians, hospitals, clinics and practice administrators can improve the overall success of their EHR program by deploying solutions that are equally meaningful to patients.

MD News - Meaningful Use: A Patient Perspective

Related Article:
What Meaningful Use Means Now
Health Data Management interviews with numerous stakeholders reveal a number of concerns with the final rule. But these stakeholders agree on one point-compliance with Stage 1 meaningful use criteria now is doable.

Posted by staff at September 16, 2010 09:25 AM