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Preparing practices for the changes of meaningful use

March 24, 2011

Attesting to meaningful use can earn Medicare or Medicaid funds for a medical practice, but not without bringing some changes to daily operations and patient interactions.

The changes may even trickle down to practices that aren’t seeking incentive payments or adopting electronic health record systems, Natalie Berger, chair of the HIMSS Ambulatory Information Systems Committee, told American Medical News.

Even though Medicare and Medicaid providers are currently the only ones who qualify for EHR incentives, private payers may soon follow the guidelines too, she said. “And then I think patients are going to demand it. It’s no longer going to be okay to go to a doctor’s office that doesn’t have your records or doesn’t know you are allergic to those medications,” Berger said.

The recent HIMSS conference focused on the changes brought by EHRs and meaningful use attestation. Five of the basic changes were patient engagement, security and privacy, reporting, collaboration and efficiencies, the newspaper reports.

Because they will have access to more of their health information, patients are going to be more involved in their care. Combined with the increase in the amount of data physicians will have during a visit, doctors can expect to get more value out of the time spent with a patient.

EHRs may also make it easier for doctors to assess their own performance. Practices will have more information to measure whether a particular procedure or treatment is being sufficiently implemented to meet the needs of a specific group of patients, such as diabetics. Implementing an EHR system also forces physicians to focus on their practice’s strengths and inefficiencies during the research process.

The use of health information technology may also facilitate greater collaboration among doctors, the newspaper reports. Exchanging information via Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) and practice portals, like the ones Sage provides, will allow physicians to coordinate and direct the care they administer.

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