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Meaningful Use

Device makers can add meaning to meaningful use

Interoperable medical devices already play a critical role in the transfer of important patient information, but they can do much more.

By Symeria Hudson M

eaningful use does not yet have a fi nal defi nition, but it already has a deadline. As the healthcare industry works with President Obama’s administration to fur- ther develop the meaning, some healthcare executives have expressed uncertainty about meeting it. A survey released by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in June found that 80 percent of hospital chief information offi cers are “concerned or very concerned” with their organization’s “ability to meet meaningful-use requirements within the specifi ed time frame.” The fi nal regulations for meaningful use issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on July 13 provided some increased fl exibility, but the pres- sure to match still-evolving standards by 2015 remains a major challenge for pro- viders. For device manufactur- ers, this presents a signifi - cant opportunity to offer solutions. To do so, though,

Symeria Hudson is vice president, medication management systems, U.S., Hospira.

For more information on Hospira solutions: www.rsleads.com/011ht-204

device makers must help contribute to the fi nal defi nition of meaningful use and must demonstrate how devices can help hospitals reach meaningful-use goals faster.

Aiming for a more inclusive fi nal defi nition Meaningful use will be defi ned in three stages, tied to incentive payments in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The fi rst stage already has been determined. To meet the require- ments, healthcare providers must be able to: • Demonstrate use of certified health information technologies in a meaningful manner.

• Validate that certifi ed information technology is con- nected, or interoperable, in a manner that provides for electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of healthcare.

• Use certifi ed technology to submit data to the gov- ernment on specifi c clinical quality measures and performance metrics.

20 November 2010

Each of these requirements focuses on use, and not on simply having health IT in place. While adopting elec- tronic health records has been at the center of discussions about clearing these hurdles, other health information technologies, including interoperable medical devices, already play a critical role in the transfer of important patient information. But only health IT components that are certifi ed by CMS and the Offi ce of the National Co- ordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) will qualify for meaningful use. And those are the technolo- gies that providers will invest in for the next few years.

Device makers must help contribute to the fi nal defi nition of meaningful use and must demonstrate how devices can help hospitals reach meaningful-use goals faster.

Device technology could make many providers meaningful users now The PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey also found that one-third of CIOs are “concerned or very concerned” about vendor readiness. This underscores the fact that hospitals and other providers are relying on IT vendors to help them take the critical steps that will improve healthcare quality and safety and to meet the designated timelines.

A key area for improvement in quality of care is elimi- nating medical errors. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2006 statistics revealed that each year more than 1.5 mil- lion people are harmed by medication errors and 400,000 preventable drug-related injuries occur in hospitals; many more occur in outpatient clinics and long-term care set- tings. Incorporating infusion devices in “closed-loop” medication delivery – the process to automate all the steps from the ordering to the administration of medi- cations – can help eliminate some of these errors. This

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com

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