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Innovation, Collaboration, and Finding the “Use” in Meaningful Use

Meaningful UseWhen the government released its EHR incentive rules back in 2010, “meaningful use” quickly became the talk of the health IT community. But much more was said than done.

Fast forward to May 20, 2014. Faced with dismal adoption rates for Stage 2 attestations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced a new rule that offers certain parties more time and flexibility in meeting requirements for using certified technology. The measure specifically applies to 2014 only; a fix that will temporarily relieve the current time crunch facing hospitals and healthcare professionals.

So some folks will have a little more time to make a big decision. One of the questions marketers invariably ask is, how can we move the process along? There’s a huge opportunity for health IT companies who can help providers figure out how to meet meaningful use (MU) requirements, and a lot of it is going to involve working together.

Identify Your Goals

Over the past few years, there have been many pilot programs—mostly at smaller clinics, hospitals, and private practice groups—and a few have seen significant gains in EHR adoption. HealthIT.gov has many MU case studies on their site, which include descriptions and data in a variety of subtopics such as care coordination, patient engagement, and quality measurement.

In one example, an Idaho-based medical group worked with a healthcare consultant, Qualis Health, to drive registration for its patient portal, and make its EHR more user-friendly for physicians. In another case study, the State of Michigan collaborated with several government entities, as well as technology vendors and providers, to boost EHR adoption and use.

These case studies prove that MU goals, once identified, can be achieved. They also show that collaboration is necessary from day one. Once a goal has been identified, stakeholders need to decide on the best way to get there—and that often involves engineering for human factors as well as technological ones.

Optimize for Flexibility

EHR and technology vendors should build flexibility into their systems, especially if they are seeking to partner with larger-scale entities that may include several subgroups—a medical center that contains several hospital facilities, clinics, and physician groups, for example. Flexibility is a breeding ground for innovation, and users will often find novel uses for existing technology systems.

But in addition to flexibility, it’s important that these systems be designed and marketed with the end user in mind. Training and support can be deal-breaking factors, as can evangelism within stakeholder groups. In many of the case studies we’ve read, MU goals are more likely to pass the “tipping point” of acceptance when enough individual users are on board with the technology.

Meaningful Use Proves Its Own Value

Marketers must realize—and leverage—the value of a robust and engaged user base as a point of difference. A great product, whether it’s a bar of soap, a mobile phone, or practice management software, is the one that people find useful.

How are you putting the “use” in meaningful use? Is your marketing communicating the value of your technology to end users, paving the way for rapid and successful adoption?