Meaningful Use and Technologies Create Meaningful Obstacles

Meaningful Use and Technologies Create Meaningful Obstacles

As pressures continue to cut costs, hospitals and doctors face tough IT challenges in 2014 with deadlines for Meaningful Use and new technology demands. In addition to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), they will also have to ramp up to meet Stage 2 and Stage 3 requirements for meaningful use of electronic health records at the same time as they prepare for the crucial Oct. 1 conversion to the more complex ICD-10 coding system. At the same time, the good news is that more health systems are utilizing fully mature health IT environments, big data and mobile devices.

During the third quarter of 2013, 2.2 percent, of the more than 5,400 U.S. hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics Database, reached Stage 7. The stage includes complete electronic medical records (EMRs), continuity of care document (CCD) transactions to share data, data warehousing data continuity with emergency departments, ambulatory services and outpatient centers.

Reaching Stage 7 does not need to have a hefty price tag. Hilo Medical Center in Hawaii effectively leveraged their internal resources to achieve advanced EMR capabilities with a small budget and without the advantage of external staffing. The center was recently recognized for reaching Stage 7.

As the national health network continues to build out, we’re finally getting to a point where healthcare may be able to truly leverage data analytics a meaningful way. Systems are being developed which can use clean, useful, validated, timely data to identify issues and improve outcomes. For example, Indianapolis EMS used analytics to identify those who frequently requested ambulances and how outreach services may better serve them. The top 911 callers averaged about 100 requests a year at the start of the program, now the top ten calls average about 30. 
There is also an increased use of mobile devices such as tablets which allow for the collection and delivery of critical medical data to caregivers in the field such as:

  • Accessing and input patient information
  • Providing a familiar digital patient portal
  • Providing information to visiting home healthcare workers
  • Enabling wireless collection of data from home medical monitoring devices

Together, the use of more IT services, big data analytics and mobile devices mean a tipping point for healthcare, which should continue to make positive differences for health systems and patients alike.