What is Meaningful Use?

The term “meaningful use” has been dominating the healthcare landscape in recent years. Its impact is resonating in nearly every trending topic in healthcare from the integration of analytical data, to improved population health, coordination of care, improved safety, and patient engagement. That’s because its rules, known as meaningful use measures or meaningful use criteria, determine whether or not a healthcare provider is meeting the program’s standards and is eligible to receive federal funds from the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or both.

Healthcare IT News defines meaningful use as “a set of criteria for the use of EHR systems to improve patient care by healthcare providers.” The Meaningful Use program is divided into three stages. Each stage expands on the criteria established by the previous one to help develop the use of electronic health records for a growing patient population – and each requires a wider range of healthcare processes. The goals and requirements of the Meaningful Use stages are as follows:

Stage 1: data capture and sharing

Stage 2: advanced clinical processes

Stage 3: improved outcomes

The program's proposed rules for Stage 3 meaningful use requires organizations bolster their efforts into efficiently connecting a hospital’s technology and communication systems. As hospitals are largely achieving basic levels of interoperability, a greater emphasis is being placed into developing more advanced interoperability. Advanced interoperability is the ability to effectively and efficiently compile data from interconnected systems and resources to present a complete, uniform view of the patient's health records, and improve the communications between healthcare providers and patients.

In many ways, this trend is the point at which all other trends converge – such as the rise of the hyper quantified self, big data, and cloud based technology. Without advanced interoperability, there's no way to sustainably bridge the gap between more data and meaningful data.

What does this mean for your hospital and its operations? The overall goal of the Meaningful Use program is to promote the widespread adoption of electronic health records systems, ultimately creating an infrastructure that improves the quality, safety and efficiency of patient care in the United States.

At South Western Communications, we continuously research and select only the best-in class product collection that supplement a hospital’s efforts to achieve meaningful use. We utilize these products to create an integrated solution with your goals and needs in mind, ensuring satisfaction and flawless integration. If you are interested in finding out more about how our communication solutions help drive noticeable change in your practice, contact info@swc.net or call us at 1-800-333-4792 and we will help identify areas where you can enhance your hospital’s operations.