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Dome - What Meaningful Use Means to Johns Hopkins

Dome November 2013

What Meaningful Use Means to Johns Hopkins

Date: October 29, 2013


The Epic electronic medical record system can help improve patient-centered care and earn financial incentives from the federal government.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has a deadline that it can’t afford to miss. By 2015, the enterprise must be able to collect digital data that measure the quality of patient care in order to qualify for more than $100 million in federal health information technology incentives.

Under “Meaningful Use” regulations, eligible hospitals and health care providers can receive bonuses if they show that they are using electronic health record systems to demonstrate improvements to patient safety and satisfaction, care coordination, privacy, health disparities and a host of other measures. Penalties await those who fall short of the standards.

To meet the demands of Meaningful Use, an electronic health system must track an enormous trove of itemized patient data, ranging from vital statistics, smoking status, allergies and prescriptions to records of office visits, tests, discharge instructions and level of compliance. As Epic goes live across Johns Hopkins Medicine, clinicians and staff members are using the electronic medical system to standardize these and thousands of other electronic data points specified by Meaningful Use.

Here, Peter Greene, chief medical information officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine, explains Meaningful Use and its benefits to patients, providers and the health system.

Q. How will Johns Hopkins benefit from Meaningful Use?

From the perspective of patient-centered care, the regulations set standards for data collection that improve the quality of electronic documentation and require a more seamless exchange of information between different electronic record systems.

For Johns Hopkins Medicine, compliance with Meaningful Use will deliver more than $100 million in incentives over the next six years.

Q. How are incentives awarded?

There are 15 core objectives for eligible providers and 14 for hospitals that everyone has to meet. Then you get to select another five from a menu of objectives.

The incentives are given out based on meaningful use of electronic health records. For each hospital and for each physician, we are going to have to attest that they have met and recorded the objectives spelled out by Meaningful Use legislation.

For physicians, that’s going to mean, for example, that they are using the electronic prescribing system, keeping current patient problem lists, giving patients after-visit summaries and tracking vital signs, such as height, weight and body mass index. Those sorts of objectives ensure that providers stay up-to-date with patients and their care.

Q. How were the Meaningful Use criteria developed?

The process was led by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) within the Department of Health and Human Services with input from thousands of people, including physicians, nurses and IT professionals. The ONC then partnered with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to determine provider and hospital eligibility. There are actually four programs for Meaningful Use: Medicaid and Medicare programs as well as ones for physicians and hospitals.

Q. Has Johns Hopkins begun to reap the benefits of the program’s financial incentives?

So far, we have received more than $20 million across Hopkins, mostly from the Medicaid program. With the rollout of Epic in nearly all ambulatory clinics across Johns Hopkins Medicine, we can begin to measure physician quality in those settings.

Q. How closely is Meaningful Use tied to Epic?

This project connects perfectly with the Epic rollout. We are coupling Epic training with Meaningful Use training, and Epic gives us the capacity to meet all requirements. It’s incredibly exciting that we have a deeply integrated, highly functional electronic record system.

—Reported by Dome staff