The Goals of Meaningful Use and Stage 1

On January 24, 2009, during his first Weekly Address as 44th president of the United States, President Barack Obama said that the nation’s health records will be computerized within five years in order to lower health care costs, cut medical errors, and improve care.

Goals of Meaningful Use

By focusing on the effective use of EHRs with certain capabilities, the HITECH Act makes it clear that the adoption of records is not a goal in itself: it is the use of EHRs to achieve health and efficiency goals that matters. HITECH’s incentives and assistance programs seek to improve the health of Americans and the performance of their healthcare system through the meaningful use of EHRs to achieve five primary health care goals:

• Improve quality, safety, and efficiency while reducing health disparities.

• Engage patients and families in their health care.

• Promote and improve public and population health.

• Improve care coordination between providers.

• Ensure adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information.

Stage 1 Meaningful Use

Capturing electronic health information and using that data to track and communicate clinical conditions is the predominant focus of Stage 1 Meaningful Use. Under both the Medicare and Medicaid versions of the incentive programs, the first phase of meaningful use includes measures that are specific to eligible hospitals (EHs) and eligible professionals (EPs). Radiologists, most of whom qualify as EPs under the Medicare version, have a total of 15 core set objectives, 10 menu set objectives, and 44 clinical quality measures to report against. Each set has specific objectives that may be excluded, but all EPs are still required to “possess” EHR technology that has been tested and certified for all program criteria.

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