Understanding rules vital to planning for 'meaningful use'

Want to get to "meaningful use"? Understand the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the CMS regulations, your own incentive opportunity and your current state of implementation. Conduct a gap analysis. Educate your staff. And, by all means, test and re-test technology and processes.

These are among the 10 steps to achieving Stage 1 meaningful use, as described by Judith A. Murphy, vice president of IT at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, during her opening keynote presentation at Wednesday's HIMSS Virtual Conference.

Understanding the regulations "has not been the easiest thing," Murphy said, according to CMIO. But it's important to stay current--and make sure everyone in the organization does, too. Murphy recommended signing up for email updates from CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology of answers to frequently asked questions, since both HHS agencies continue to clarify some of the finer points.

Building rigor among systems, applications, processes and implementation strategy is particularly important. "Change what you need to change and keep core principles in the plan," Murphy advised. And make sure the organization truly is ready to go through a successful EMR implementation.

Remember, you have to report data to CMS to earn Stage 1 bonuses for meaningful use. Later, you will be required to demonstrate actual quality improvement. "Having an interactive dashboard has been particularly helpful," Murphy said. The dashboard allows Aurora to view progress toward the Stage 1 objectives and measures, CMIO reports.

Finally, when you get to meaningful use, celebrate by recognizing everyone's hard work. And then get back to work on meeting the Stage 2 criteria.

For more:
- check out this CMIO story