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98.5 Percent of Physicians Met Requirements for Meaningful Use in 2015

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98.5 Percent of Physicians Met Requirements for Meaningful Use in 2015

98.5 Percent of Physicians Met Requirements for Meaningful Use in 2015

Date: 03/01/2016

Three or four years ago, internist Howard Levy was something of an anomaly among the Johns Hopkins faculty. Levy, then the clinical director of Johns Hopkins General Internal Medicine at Green Spring Station, was already using stand-alone software to electronically prescribe all of his patients’ medications. He was an enthusiastic proponent of implementing a complete electronic medical record (EMR) system to keep detailed records on patients, prescribe their medications, exchange information about them with other providers and communicate with them.

Now he is in good company. As of Dec. 29, 2015, 98.5 percent of Johns Hopkins physicians met requirements for meaningful use. Defined broadly, meaningful use designates that a health care provider uses an EMR to improve health care quality, safety, efficiency and equity. For example, that means that a physician is using the electronic prescribing system, maintaining 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.

There are three stages to the program, each with its own set of criteria. The criteria were developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Department of Health and Human Services and based on input from thousands of people, including physicians, nurses and IT professionals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) assesses applications for meaningful use status.

“Meaningful use translates to patient value. It allows us to use our technology to deliver more efficient patient care. To have 98.5 percent of our doctors attain meaningful use is really extraordinary and puts us in the 98th percentile nationwide,” says Kim Sherbrooke, chief operating officer for the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians.

For stage 1, physicians must use an EMR for data capture and sharing. To achieve stage 2, they must satisfy a number of requirements whose broad purpose is to encourage communication between physician and patients, and between providers. They include electronic transmissions of patient care summaries to patients’ other physicians and providing patients electronic access to their medical information.

The aim of stage 3 is to improve care delivery by requiring more advanced EMR functionality in support of population health, advanced care coordination and clinical decision-making. Although physicians are required to meet stage 3 objectives in 2018, they are encouraged to attain stage 3 in 2017, says Jenny Bailey, senior director for quality and transformation for the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians.

“We understand that meeting the standards for meaningful use can feel onerous,” says Bailey. For that reason, Johns Hopkins Medicine has worked directly with CMS to make suggestions to help make the regulations more lenient, she says. For example, there are now fewer measures to meet.

When providers achieve meaningful use, they can receive an incentive payment, says Bailey. A 2 percent Medicare professional fee penalty awaits those who do not achieve it.

The meaningful use program will be phased out, but what will replace it has yet to be announced, says Levy. “Johns Hopkins will continue to work with CMS to make the new regulations practical and conducive to excellent patient care.”

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