December 15, 2015

There are several factors to consider when planning for stage 3 of Meaningful Use. The following will help ensure you’re ready for the transition.

Assess organizational readiness.
IT organizations looking ahead to the next phase of Meaningful Use are wise to begin by creating a high-level assessment of the implication of change upon the organization from a technology implementation standpoint, a change management standpoint and business strategy perspective. It may also be helpful to do a Stage 2 review of the top challenges overcome so far and any best practices that can be applied to the next stage.

A few questions to answer include:

  • What will IT budget needs entail as relates to software upgrades, infrastructure upgrades, and consulting services?
  • What additional IT staff or skills will be needed to help with the transition?
  • How will new training, support and awareness needs be funded and delivered to both IT staff and end users?
  • How will meeting the next set of requirements affect or coincide with important business goals or changes, such as mergers, expansion and/or the launch of new product/service lines?
  • What will be the top barriers to success (physician adoption, competing IT priorities), and how will they be addressed?

Assess vendors.

It may sound obvious, but too many healthcare organizations were caught short in years past by not communicating thoroughly with their core health IT vendors on implementation plans and requirements. These EMR upgrades are substantial, and often need to run on the latest operating system; your organization will need to plan for that upgrade as well as the requisite hardware upgrades. System requirements may also necessitate larger bandwidth needs as well as the most robust managing and monitoring systems.

Vendors with cloud-based solutions can offer a more appealing alternative but for customers of on-premise systems, there’s no way to avoid the infrastructure upgrades that will likely come with MU3. Don’t forget that vendor planning also includes any third-party systems, such as lab or pharmacy, which integrate with the EMR. Find out those vendors’ plans and requirements for upgrades early to mitigate late-stage chaos.

Analyze security risk.

As mentioned earlier, increased digitization and integration brings up new security risks. These risks may be compounded by the fact that some sets of data will be coming from outside of the organization’s walls, from other facilities and from the patients themselves. Security testing for the new environment is critical as well as an updating of policies and access management systems. A key review of existing security risk reports is considered a minimum requirement; a conservative recommendation would be to have an updated security risk assessment if the report is more than two years old.

Design integration architecture.

Stage 3 finalizes the use of application program interfaces (APIs) that enable easier integration from the EMR to third-party applications and data sources.

The focus on interoperability in this stage of Meaningful Use requirements may require an updated integration platform. New data types that will now be imported into the EMR include lab reports, radiology/MRI images, drug database information, pharmacy systems, public health data, consumer health data from mobile apps and portals, and sensor data from patient monitoring devices, to name a few. Many organizations will use a HIE network if one is available for clinical data exchange, which should be flexible enough to work with an array of systems and data sources. Otherwise, organizations will need to consider building their own platform for data exchange. Integrating internal systems will require potential new capabilities for MU3.

Our next blog post will cover four additional steps to prepare for MU3, including: considering new collaboration tools, investigating consumer health apps, assessing skills and training needs for system upgrades, and preparing for the analytics challenge.

Learn how to navigate the upcoming MU3 requirements in the emids white paper,

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