Is healthcare making the most of MU?

March 18, 2014 in Medical Technology

Even when they’ve met the requirements of the federal EHR Incentive Program, more than two thirds of providers say they still don’t feel they’ve maximized the full potential of meaningful use, according to a new survey.

[See also: Meaningful use creates consulting boom]

The poll, conducted last month by Stoltenberg Consulting at the 2014 HIMSS Annual Conference Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., found that 70 percent of respondents don’t think their organizations are making the most of meaningful use.

“While many organizations may view meaningful use as a must-do regulatory requirement, it is actually much more,” said Shane Pilcher, vice president, Stoltenberg Consulting, in a press statement. “Organizations need to view meaningful use as a strategy, discipline and process that facilitates healthcare transformation and eases transitions to initiatives such as full patient engagement, value-based accountable care and population health management.”

[See also: Data analytics poised for big growth]

The survey showed an array of frustrations for providers. Many of them (50 percent) pointed to lack of resources as the biggest barrier to achieving meaningful use; others cited tight time frames (23 percent), lack of buy-in from others in their organizations (15 percent) and competing health IT projects (12 percent).

“Organizations most likely to maximize the full potential of meaningful use are those that treat it like a journey that, ultimately, will secure a future for promising developments such as mobile health, remote monitoring, care collaboration, medical home, population health management and accountable care,” said Pilcher.

While meaningful use remains a challenge for some providers, for most it’s taken a back seat, either to more pressing concerns such as ICD-10, with its Oct. 1, 2014 deadline, or to larger — and ideally more transformative — projects such as data analytics initiatives.

Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) said ICD-10 would be their chief IT priority in 2014, and just over one quarter (27 percent) said big data would be top-of-mind. Smaller percentages (16 percent and 10 percent, respectively) said they are still grappling with EHR implementation and meaningful use.

One takeaway from the poll suggests that too many providers are looking at data and analytics as something to be tackled after meaningful use, rather than concurrent with it – and that many are simply unsure how to proceed.

Stoltenberg survey asked, “If big data is the next best thing, why do many HIT leaders view it as something in the distant future?” Some 40 percent of respondents answered that most providers simply don’t know what to do with their data.

“Organizations need to understand and differentiate big data from the more appropriate ‘smart healthcare data,’” said Pilcher in a statement. “Today, they are collecting data, which usually gets stored somewhere inside data warehouses in the hopes that it will eventually be used in the next five years or so.

“If organizations aren’t monitoring what they’re saving however, the quality and quantity of the data will not be sufficient when they are ready to use it,” he added. “These organizations might think they have several years of historical data to draw from when they begin their analytics but in reality, the data is often not the quality, quantity or type that they need.”

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