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EHR and Meaningful Use in the News

by Andrew Scutro, Senior Associate, Communications

We are always happy to see coverage of electronic health records (EHR) pop up beyond medical or health IT news outlets. As a cloud-based service to medical practices and health care systems, we spend our time talking to those audiences because we are, well, trying to share the distinct benefits of our services. But an EHR is ultimately about an individual patient—and every patient should know more about the future of medical records.

So, recent coverage in the Boston Globe about EHR adoption got our attention. (As a company with a mantra about going paperless, a headline that says “Goodbye Paper” is particularly apt.)

The story included this infographic about the spread of EHR technology and the disbursement of federal incentive dollars under the Meaningful Use program.

And while it’s not exactly going to make the evening news, the Government Accountability Office just published a report on the first year of the Meaningful Use program. 

One of athenahealth’s concerns about the Meaningful Use program has been the lack of a method to verify that physicians across the country have met the measures. Thankfully, that’s not an issue for athenahealth. Since we operate in the cloud, we can see even the smallest grains of data in the network. In fact, we have been able to regularly report out on the progress of our client physicians on their path to Meaningful Use of an EHR as they met and attested to the measures.

While we can verify what physicians on our network do, how can that be done with software-based solutions, when they don’t afford the visibility of a cloud-based network? We hold ourselves to a high standard of integrity and we want to be sure that that the truly meaningful users get rewarded. It turns out that the government seems to agree and the auditors at the GAO would like to see a better process for verifying performance.

The GAO made the following recommendations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the Meaningful Use program:

  • Establish time frames for expeditiously implementing an evaluation of the effectiveness of the agency’s audit strategy for the Medicare EHR program.
  • Evaluate the extent to which the agency should conduct more verifications on a prepayment basis when determining whether providers meet Medicare EHR program’s reporting requirements.
  • Collect the additional information from Medicare providers during attestation that CMS suggested states collect from Medicaid providers during attestation.
  • Offer states the option of having CMS collect meaningful use attestations from Medicaid providers on their behalf.

What do you think? How has the experience with Meaningful Use treated you and your practice of medicine?

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