Data is more ubiquitous, and strong standards are being put in place forcing electronic medical records (EMR) to adopt common standards for workflows. This will have a significant impact on a physician’s practice. Following are five things doctors need to know about moving from Stage 1 meaningful use to Stage 2, what it means and how to prepare.
1) Work with a qualified EMR vendor that fits your timeline – While Stage 1 was focused on data capturing, Stage 2 is focused on taking that data and making it more meaningful. As a result of this shift, doctors and staff will have access to more comprehensive patient records, with the goal of improving care at a lower cost. Strict certification requirements mean that fewer EMRs will pass the requirements this time but will yield higher quality and standards for those who can achieve certification. As a result, approximately 10% fewer the number of EMRs on the market will be ready for transition to Stage 2.
2) Software changes – All of the data from Stage 1 will still remain but will be more difficult to manage and require more advanced processes. Stage 2 defines a secure and encrypted e-mail network designed to completely replace faxes, health information exchanges (HIE), and will either replace or work with HIEs and other secure messaging applications. Moving to Stage 2, doctors will gain access to data that many don’t currently have, which should make practices more efficient and lower costs.
3) Patients will have more power – Patients will gain more access to their medical records than they ever did before. Obtaining a direct email address with a secure endpoint will give doctors or hospitals in the U.S. the ability to send health records to any patient. Improved messaging security will allow patients to pull their data from hospitals and doctors directly into consumer friendly apps for the iPhone. Also, there will be a boom in patient-focused systems like Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault, except this time they will have interoperability tools to permit them for broader use.
4) A more complete patient medical record – Improved interoperability between EMRs will provide consistent data that can be analyzed and allow for seamless transition of care for patients. Big EMR vendors and hospitals will share data with Patient health records and office-based doctor EMRs. There will be more continuous care, less unnecessary repetition for the patients and overall more complete medical records providing a more complete picture of a patient's health. Currently only insurance companies can analyze data en-masse for the benefit of public health, but with the new data interchange, government bodies will get access to a broader picture of public health data.
5) Understanding government standards – Government standards for moving to Stage 2 are still not fully clarified and can cause frustration during implementation. For example, one standard called Direct Project is still a work in progress yet to be fully utilized.