Healthcare providers have financial incentives through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to improve patient care, reduce costs and create the infrastructure and processes to realize the full value of integrated health records.
Many obstacles remain, however, to overcoming the operational and technical issues involved. Even providers with existing electronic health records (EHRs) may not sufficiently demonstrate “Meaningful Use” to qualify for incentives due to limitations in their client-server architecture. Adding additional functionality to achieve Meaningful Use can’t come at the expense of existing operations and productivity, and current workflows and processes must be taken into account before pursuing any fundamental changes.
As patients seek to manage their online Personal Health Records (PHR), providers will need to make clinical information accessible for this use as well. A key element is the ability to include patients in the sharing of data such as electronic delivery of lab and results data across the continuum of care, and providing online tools to request appointments, prescription refills and ask questions regarding their care. Another key aspect of patient engagement is providing access to support resources such as care management programs, educational materials and call center resources.
Most healthcare executives are researching long-term options that address operational issues far beyond qualifying for stimulus funding. Changes should be made to meet Meaningful Use criteria, but forward thinking executives will also focus on developing a sound yet flexible foundation for sustainable growth. This approach will yield much greater long-term ROI.
A number of RelayHealth products feature the ability to share results with patients electronically, which is a key requirement of ARRA incentive qualification. To learn which products help customers meet Meaningful Use criteria, contact us.