Achieving Meaningful Use and Operational Efficiency
+ Author Affiliations
- Corresponding author: Mithi Govil, MD, MS, New London Cancer Center, 196 Parkway South, Ste 303, Waterford, CT 06385; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purpose: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), through the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, are providing incentive payments to eligible professionals as they demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over a 5-year period for Medicare participation if they successfully demonstrate the ability to automatically generate, transmit, and meet thresholds for specific reporting elements from the EHR. Meeting the meaningful use requirement involves a reorganization of workflow within the clinical setting so that the data elements necessary to produce the relevant measurements are documented in the electronic medical record (EMR) as they are delivered. A by-product of this is operational efficiency improvement in three areas: coordination of data input throughout the care team to reduce or remove bottlenecks, assignment of responsibility for specific activity, and real-time objective monitoring of the work process.
Methods: Using the reporting system functionality of a certified EMR deployed in a two-physician medical oncology practice at the New London Cancer Center, the objective measurement of the ability of each of the eligible providers in the clinic to improve their individual MU scores was tracked. Analysis of the progress of each provider revealed gaps. Process issues were identified by work group: secretaries, laboratory preparation and phlebotomy staff, nurses, and clinicians. The designated physician leader met with each group to discuss the sections relevant to that particular group.
Results: By discovering and addressing work processes that were not utilizing the ability of the EHR to capture and document (ie, meaningful use of the EHR), rapid progress that affected all of the eligible providers and all patients cared for was made. Changes resulted in increased clarity of clinical and administrative responsibilities during patient processing and clinical care provision. Meaningful use attestation was completed in 14 weeks.
Conclusion: Completion of the documentation necessary to meet the requirements of the EHR Incentive Program led to the discovery of systemic inefficiencies in administrative and clinical workflows. Addressing these bottlenecks, along with using the reporting capability of the EHR to measure the impact of workflow changes, enabled the administrative and care teams to make changes quickly and effectively. The certified EHR provided guidance and status-reporting capabilities that allowed the practice to achieve the meaningful use requirement.