December 17, 2015

In a previous blog post, we discussed four steps companies can take to prepare for Meaningful Use Phase 3  requirements:

  • Assess organizational readiness.
  • Assess vendors.
  • Analyze security risk.
  • Design integration architecture.

The following steps are also critical to ensure a successful transition.

Consider new collaboration tools.

Along with integration is the expanding need for collaboration among the various parties that deliver and manage care. While there are many viable systems for helping caregivers coordinate on patient care and outcomes, selecting the best one for your organization’s growing needs is not easy. EHRs are not typically designed to support the coordination of care among multiple providers including the hand-off of patients from one level of care to the next. Care coordination applications help manage at-risk patients through the development and tracking of care plans, engaging patients in self-management, and facilitating communication with patients and their families. The market for care coordination software is expected to expand at a 26.1 percent compound annual growth rate between 2015 and 2020, according to a new analysis from Frost & Sullivan. Providers should conduct due diligence relative to service line capabilities and needs when evaluating care coordination applications.

Investigate consumer health apps.

Getting patients more involved in and accountable for their own health is foundational to healthcare reform and, as a result, has become a significant aspect of Meaningful Use. CIOs will need to determine the best way to help patients share information with the healthcare organization securely and easily. Can patients use their own smartphones to submit through an app developed by the organization? What about for patients without smartphones or tablets or even high-speed networks within easy use? Devices such as kiosks or tablets in the physician office or hospital may play an important role in collecting information from patients when they are a captive audience. Web portals have had varying success with patients as a way to safely communicate with providers. To drive participation, CIOs will need feedback on what patients consider the optimal user experience, such as tools for easy online scheduling, automated appointment reminders, bill pay and post-visit instructions. Naturally, integrating data from those applications into the EMR and analytics/reporting systems is core to the strategy of consumer-driven healthcare.

Assess skills and training needs for system upgrades.

CIOs should meet with their EMR vendors several months before the upgrade goes live to map out training and support requirements for users and IT staff once the upgrade is installed. Any training and education that can be delivered early, by getting access to betas and pilots, can jumpstart the process. Key points of discussion include:

  • An understanding of the key system changes and new features for users
  • Training programs such as e-learning, offered by the vendor
  • New workflow requirements necessitating process change
  • New internal IT skills needed to manage and deploy the system
  • What level of in-system support will be included to help users learn as they go.

Prepare for the analytics challenge.

The success of Meaningful Use depends upon generating value from the growing volume of electronic health information being collected by healthcare organizations. While MU3 doesn’t require analytical systems per se, aside from what’s needed to deliver public reports, there’s a lost opportunity in ignoring the increased data sets that revamped EMRs will collect and store. Advanced analytics solutions that can provide personalized diagnostic information to a physician or alert a nurse to a troubling indicator streamed from a cardiac patient’s FitBit are concepts within reach today. Healthcare data scientists will be needed to work with the data and uncover new insights that can lead to better care paths for certain patient populations or to identify areas of waste.

Read the full roadmap to MU3 planning success in the emids white paper, http://go.emids.com/mu3.

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