Meaningful Use Stage 2:

Using Electronic Health Records to Improve Care

Meaningful Use Stage 2

HIPAA Meaningful Use (MU) Core Objectives are a set of reporting criteria and other requirements and reporting using certified technology for Electronic Health Records (EHR).   These objectives are also used to evaluate whether a covered entity has met the necessary goals that must be fulfilled in order to obtain Medicare and Medicaid incentive money. HIPAA Meaningful Use requirements will become increasingly complex and the minimum level required to meet these goals will be raised over three stages:

– Stage 1 – Data Capture and Sharing
– Stage 2 – Advanced Clinical Processes
– Stage 3 – Improved Outcomes

According to the 2014 edition of the final rule for HIPAA, covered entities who are interested in continuing to receive incentive money and who have already met Meaningful Use Criteria for Stage 1 (MU1) for at least two years, will be required to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 Criteria (MU2).  Eligible providers and hospitals who fail to demonstrate that there is an EHR in place that captures all the necessary data (although this can be aggregated with non-certified software programs as long as the EHR system collects the same data) will lose incentive dollars incrementally for each year they are not compliant.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 focuses on surpassing the goals of the first stage by requiring covered entities who receive incentive money to certify they are using their electronic health records to improve patient care.  While many objectives from Stage 1 will not change there are several areas that have more stringent or expanded requirements and a few objectives have been added.  Meeting MU Stage 2 requirements, covered entities will automatically continue to meet MU stage 1 objectives since each stage is cumulative. Subsequent stages are designed to satisfy all lower level objectives.

There are three health care priorities that are associated with MU2.  These include:

Documenting Continuity of Care Decisions – To meet MU Stage 2 requirements, covered entities must share Continuity of Care Documents for 50% of all decisions involving health care transitions. This is to confirm certification requirements have been met ensuring that when patients change health care settings the records for each are linked and accessible to both providers and patients. HIPAA Meaningful Use stage provides the ability to view an individual’s health and treatment history over time regardless of the number of providers involved and helps health care practitioners integrate treatment among themselves.

Patient and Family Engagement – This goal involves using the EHR to help clients and their families gain greater understanding of their health condition and related intervention or preventive care.  One goal of MU stage 2 requirements is to encourage individuals and their families to become more involved in their own health care, implementing recommended prevention strategies and seeking care early when necessary.  It is recognized that many individuals relay on family for support.  Family members are appropriately included in decision making and coordination of care.

Clinical Decision Support – This objective of this goal is to use clinical decision support to improve patient care for health priorities. This objective also requires eligible providers and hospitals to demonstrate that they have enabled functions that check for medication interactions and medication – allergy interactions. The policy furthers continuity of care coordination as covered entities must be able to show EHR systems can integrate and tally information about medications in use and allergies identified across health care settings.  Clinical decision support takes individual characteristics into account to ensure treatment plans are specific to each patient.

While some eligible providers may have the necessary IT solutions in place to fulfill the requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2, it is in everyone’s best interest to review the updated policy which goes into effect in 2014.  This will help covered entities ensure they are compliant with all current HIPAA Meaningful Use rules and have updated IT systems in order to meet any new data collection functions related to EHRs.  As the updated policy for MU2 had not been issued when eligible providers were held responsible for instituting MU1 this is crucial not only for those who receive incentive funds but ultimately for all covered entities.  This will allow all eligible providers to make sure all necessary systems are in place to satisfy expanded or new criteria for establishing compliance with all current HIPAA rules and regulations.

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