Meaningful Use Challenges Detailed

Greg Freeman , December 13, 2011
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This article appears in the December 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

The first wave of providers has attested to stage 1 meaningful use and many already have deposited big incentive checks from Uncle Sam, but the next wave may find the process more challenging.

Unlike healthcare providers who have gotten serious about electronic health records only recently, the first to attest were early adopters who have been transitioning to EHRs for years; so for some, proving meaningful use was easy.

But many have war stories to tell, and the next batch can take lessons from them. Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group in Richmond has successfully attested for 102 physicians in a number of specialties and Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Robert Fortini, PNP, says Bon Secours’ success came partly from providing one-on-one assistance to individual physicians.

Bon Secours distributed a weekly report on metrics associated with meaningful use to physician leaders and practice managers, and any physician “in the red”—not meeting the goals for meaningful use—received special attention.

“I had five people, boots on the ground, who I could send to a specific practice to work with the physician,” Fortini says. “So if someone was not printing out after-visit summaries and distributing them to the patient, we would send someone to make sure they understood that this was a requirement of meaningful use. But at the same time we explained that the physicians themselves didn’t have to do all the work, that they could distribute it to other staff members.”

Most of the problematic metrics could be addressed by training staff members differently, Fortini says. That was a relief to some physicians who had anticipated that meaningful use would increase their workloads.

One of the metrics that many Bon Secours physicians failed to meet was capturing the race and ethnicity
of patients.

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