Meaningful Use: Will Your Organization Meet the Deadline?

Meaningful Use: Will Your Organization Meet the Deadline?

If so, you’ll be ahead of nearly all healthcare organizations in the United States. According to a report published by the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, most physicians are lagging behind in digitizing patient health records.

The survey of 1,820 primary-care and specialty physicians found that fewer than one in 10 doctors used electronic health records (EHRs) in 2012. What’s more, only 44 percent of those surveyed said they had an EHR system in place. Those who don’t could face costly consequences.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which was adopted in 2009, healthcare organizations that digitize all patient health records by 2014 will qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments. Those that fail to demonstrate “meaningful use”–evidence that they’ve met certain benchmarks–by the deadline could face financial penalties.

Supporters of EHR say converting from a paper to a digital format will allow physicians to provide patients with a better quality of care, by sending appointment reminders, tracking referrals, and contacting those who are overdue for care. Opponents argue that EHR conversion is costly and the software is difficult to install. They also cite training all employees on using the software as a barrier to EHR adoption. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) through the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is monitoring the meaningful use timeline, is working with healthcare providers to resolve conversion issues.

Is your organization on target to meet meaningful use criteria by 2014? Please share your experiences in the comments below.