Patient Communication. What is Required for Meaningful Use?

The EHR Incentive Program was envisioned by Congress as a way to improve healthcare and reduce the cost of care. Many groups, including ACP, have a fundamental belief that new care models should be patient centric. The requirements for Meaningful Use include several measures that are meant to directly affect how clinicians interact with their patients.

To prove that you are a meaningful user of your EHR system you must meet 15 required measures and then 5 additional measures — for a menu set of 10 measures. Two of the required 15 measures, and three of the 10 menu set measures relate directly to your interactions with patients. Below are these specific measures and some possible ways to meet them.

Required Patient Measures:

You must complete these measures to achieve meaningful use.

Measure 1

With this measure, a clinician is not required to provide information in an electronic format if it does not exist electronically. This information can be provided by scanning the chart in a format that can be read by a patient (e.g. pdf) and can be saved using any type of electronic media such as a CD or USB thumb drive.  The easiest way to share this information will likely be to enable a patient portal or personal health record that is connected to your EHR and individuals access this information over the Internet at their convenience.  For more information on this measure from CMS, click here.

Measure 2

Many studies have shown that patients forget a lot of information after the office visit. Providing a clinical summary can help patients adhere to recommendations and also provides additional guidance to caregivers not present during the office visit. This summary can be provided though electronic media such as a personal health record or as a printed summary. If you choose to use an electronic format you must be able to provide a printed copy to the patient upon request.  Information that you believe may pose a substantial risk to the patient can be excluded from the summary. For example, an unconfirmed cancer diagnosis that has not yet been discussed. You can find out more information on this measure from CMS here.

Menu Set Patient Measures:

You can choose any or all of these measures to meet the required total of five menu set objectives.

Measure 3 (optional)

This could be as simple as generating a list of all the patients who need a flu vaccination and then sending them a reminder via mail or calling them. You can find out more information on this measure from CMS here.

Measure 4 (optional)

Essentially this measure is the same as the required measure providing an electronic copy of the patient’s record; however, this measure encourages you to do so in the absence of a specific request. This can be provided through a patient portal/PHR. You can find out more information on this measure from CMS here.

Measure 5 (optional)

This measure does not require that the information actually be stored/accessed through the EHR; rather, it prompts you to provide information if certain criteria have been met. You can find out more information on this measure from CMS here.

This post is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP does not endorse a specific EHR brand or product and ACP makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein.

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