Three words on meaningful use: Perspective, patience and people

By Celwyn C. Evans
03:08 PM

Questions abound when it comes to meeting the meaningful use requirements, and the central questions often are 1.) How can our organization stay focused when putting IT systems into place; and 2.) How can we ensure our organization stays on track with meaningful use guidelines? At this stage of the game, there are three areas to take into consideration:

  • keeping things in perspective,
  • maintaining an attitude of patience, and
  • using the right people.

Keeping things in perspective is all about realizing that for every healthcare provider organization, getting up to speed with meaningful use will imply different things. For some, meaningful use is a matter of formalizing systems that were already in place, while for others, it means implementing new systems or upgrades, particularly for organizations that have no history of using Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE). The important thing is to make sure that your organization's plan relates directly to where your organization lies along this technology adoption spectrum, and what amount of organizational change it will take.

This should also take into account the culture of the organization, and how that culture affects adaptation to systemic change. Which members of the organization will adjust easily to change? Who within the organization can you count on to be "early adopters" or among the "early majority" as described by Everett Rogers in The Diffusion of Innovations? And which members of the organization will need more hand-holding  --  or tend toward being among the "late majority"  -  when compared to others, throughout the change process?

It's also important to remember that this entire process of change requires a great deal of patience on several levels. It takes patience to institute the required changes and see these changes ripple throughout the organization, but it also takes patience to comply with the specifics outlined in the proposed meaningful use matrix. Understandably, many organizations are looking for a "magic bullet" that will make populating the required fields that much easier, if not automatic.  Many organizations have installed systems that have the capability to capture the data elements needed in the meaningful use metrics, but do not have the functionality turned on, or the workflow, as designed or practiced, does not include the task that captures the required information.

Lastly, it's important for healthcare provider organizations to use the expertise and experience of the right people in preparing for imminent change, and in managing change already underway. Professionals with expertise in meaningful use adoption can provide specific guidance about what obstacles there may be to adoption. Expert consultants can also guide organizations how to leverage successes and lessons learned during previous organizational change experiences, or what the organization must do, to ensure buy-in from all stakeholders. Partnering with the right people can help the organization complete the required deliberate work surrounding the critical dynamics of adoption, which impact the rate of adoption.