Meaningful use promises to open data up to patients, improve the flow of information and drive efficiencies to maximize the level of care providers can offer. But meeting meaningful use requirements can be a daunting challenge, and as the federally mandated dates for IT adoption loom nearer, many providers are scratching their heads about how best to attest. Anita Karcz, MD, chief medical officer at IHM Services Company, MEDITECH’s strategic ally for clinical, quality and regulatory reporting, shares some thoughts on smart ways to implement technology on the road to meaningful use.
1. Don't ignore the human side. Installing new hardware and software is the first step. Bigger hurdles lie in building a system that accommodates the people who will be using it. Karcz says this is "changing the way workflow happens in a hospital. The way clinical people have been used to doing their clinical care have to now interact with information systems." She says that this is an initiative that can't be done in sprints. "You can't do 90 day heroics," she says. "That doesn't work any more." Instead of the "short term initiatives." Karcz says hospitals have historically pursued when implementing change, she advocates for a long term communicative process that focuses on the end goal of practitioners embracing the program and adapting their workflow to it.
2. Take a fresh approach. Recent changes in American healthcare have pushed the industry to deliver new kinds of care with fresh objectives in mind. "The thing about clinical providers is that their training is to focus on single patients," Karcz says. This is a good thing for a doctor's ability to interpret information and attend to the needs of the patient in front of him or her. Information technology helps sift through the massive amounts of data generated to help arrive at conclusions that were previously harder to reach, or had eluded medical professionals. "Rather than analyzing several hundred cases," Karcz says, "thousands or millions could be studied at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time."
3. Do it with data. The influx of data has been driven by meaningful use and its requirement for electronic health records and computerized physician order entry. Karcz says this has been instrumental in the drive for the collection of structured data, which in turn paves the way for "opportunities to improve care in wider groups of patients." She says that the drive to use data has the ability to catch more people before they undergo a significant healthcare event, and that with a better-managed patient population comes more comprehensive reimbursements. Leveraging the information captured lets healthcare systems take a birds eye view, which Karcz says helps them address broader patient health questions. "How many patients do we have with a certain condition? How many are the same, how many are different?" she asks hypothetically. "This is when doing data analytics becomes important. If you see a pattern, you can address it much more effectively than when doing it one by one."