Meaningful Use in the New Year

With a new year comes a fresh start and as 2012 creeps closer, it’s time to think about new IT approaches. Whether government mandated reform or non-required initiatives, certain IT practices will significantly help to streamline workflows, save money and improve overall patient care in the new year.

There is no question that meaningful use (MU) compliance should be one, if not the, top health IT priority in the new year. Along the same line, health information exchange (HIE) offers tremendous potential for the future, and is increasingly viewed as an essential step in improving the quality, safety and efficiency problems that plague U.S. healthcare delivery.

HIE interoperability is also key as it relates to meaningful use objectives like electronic exchange of clinical information and summaries of care, along with submitting lab results to public health agencies, etc. And while the full details of Stage 2 Meaningful Use are still emerging, it’s expected that data exchange requirements will be among the amped up mandates. Healthcare providers need to be prepared, especially providers within the MEDITECH community who find HIE connectivity particularly challenging.

For MEDITECH organizations working to embrace meaningful use, HIE initiatives such as the process of updating and feeding data to its healthcare information system and exchanging data bi-directionally with physician offices can be especially difficult. These organizations need automated, scalable integration technology to bridge their healthcare systems and an expert interoperability partner to manage the process. Building an integration landscape to store and manage more data and to have the ability to extract the data more rapidly will allow hospitals to participate more easily and quickly when MU standards are finalized.

For instance, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, a 197-bed acute care hospital in Beaufort, SC, is using Summit Express Connect to help report immunizations to public health agencies and exchange data directionally with physician offices. The engine enabled Beaufort to reduce its number of interfaces needed to develop or deploy to have data exchanged between its various applications, the EHRs and other electronic ordering systems used by doctors in the Beaufort community. Furthermore, building an interoperability environment to manage more data to meet the Stage 1 Meaningful Use criteria, Beaufort will have the basic infrastructure in place for health information exchange, which by design will enable the hospital to qualify for the more complex HIE requirements that are expected for Stage 2.

Beaufort Memorial is a great example of how health IT initiatives like MU and HIE go hand in hand and how strategically meeting meaningful use guidelines can be achieved by implementing an HIE.

What IT practices will your healthcare organization take on in the New Year?

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