Meaningful Use of EHR
When searching for a meaningful use EHR, many practices think that EMRs and EHRs are interchangeable. But technically there IS a difference between the two that may affect you in the long run. Before you purchase a meaningful use EHR, you should know the distinctions.
The National Alliance for Health Information Technology was tasked a few years ago with developing the official definitions for meaningful use EHR technologies. They issued the following definition:
Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
"An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization." In the more common ambulatory office environment this means "within your own office or the office locations of your group practice."
Electronic Health Record (EHR)
"An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one health care organization." This broader definition highlights the importance of "interoperability" among different entities and systems which can range from simple to very complex and expensive solutions.
In reality, most companies have blurred the lines between meaningful use EHR and EMR since most systems are usually customized by the end user to optimize functions and modules that best fit the specialty needs and local circumstances of the practice.
Individual physician practices ready to go paperless would look to implement an EMR that the physicians and staff would use to create and maintain medical records for their own patients. It's a stand-alone system for use by the practice only.
A meaningful use EHR is a record system that should interface or integrate with other providers' systems and be used by all clinical stakeholders. In recent years, the stakeholder community has expanded to include insurance companies, government entities, hospitals and others with a "need to know." This expansion has highlighted the need for first-rate security policies and practices that protect the patient's Privacy and Confidentiality for EHRs.
If you are a physician practice ready to go paperless, an EHR may be right for you. DrFirst has 200+ partners who can transition your practice to a paperless EMR/EHR system quickly and efficiently. Once your chosen meaningful use EHR vendor is certified for the Medicare or Medicaid "meaningful use" functions, your practice will become eligible to apply for financial incentives offered by the HITECH Act – that's as much as $44,000 – $63,750 over the next five years for correctly using a meaningful use EHR!
Big Picture Benefits
The meaningful use of EHR in the U.S. has only just recently come to the forefront of the medical community's consciousness. Adoption of EHRs has widespread implications for the health of Americans.
Once information in patient records is available online through EHRs, doctors can access and share important details about care, and patients can get up-to-date reports on their health status and care. Through the widespread meaningful use of EHR, people who change doctors or receive care from more than one provider can easily and securely have their records forwarded and shared.
When EHRs become widely adopted, public and private organizations that pay for health care can analyze aggregated records to discern important trends. Nationwide meaningful use EHR adoption will also allow them to track healthcare costs and trends by region. EHRs can reduce patient care costs and improve patient safety.
Once a majority of health care providers utilize EHRs to track their patients' health and treatments, the necessary information across the broad health care system will be generated nationwide. Currently, the U.S. has been slow to embrace EHRs. In fact, the number of primary care physicians adopting EHRs is half that of a number of European countries.
No matter how you look at it, meaningful use EHR is here to stay. Contact DrFirst to find out how we can help your practice today.
Health Alliance Plan