Nancy Pelosi holding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Meaningful Use has become a less-meaningful phrase in the USA over the past year or so, at least to those of us who work in the ED. Intentionally or no, politicians twist and deform the English language like no others. Their latest target, at least as far as Emergency Department computer systems are concerned, is the phrase: meaningful use.
In this post, I will grossly oversimplify to help provide a basic understanding of what meaning ful use now seems to mean and why you should care. As Bacon observed: we are more likely to reach the truth through error than through confusion.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) contains a vast wealth of provisions to reinvigorate the US economy (no pun intended). Of interest to readers of this site is that the ARRA says that, if you show new meaningful use of electronic medical records, then you can get money from the Federal government. However, this meaningful use only applies to office-based physicians and hospitals, so emergency physicians and Emergency Departments, by themselves, can’t get any money. However, in order for hospitals to get the money, the ED and the emergency physicians have to cooperate – which means you have some power over the administration. (Not too much, though – if you’re too uncooperative they can fire you or terminate your contract. Don’t laugh. It has happened.) Read the rest of this entry
It is said, usually by vendors, that installing an EDIS (Emergency Department Information System) will negatively impact ED efficiency for a short time, and then efficiency will increase to levels higher than before, thus:
Effect of ED Information System on ED Efficiency: Vendors
But ED Information Technology pundit Dr. Todd Taylor (emergency physician, past Speaker of the national Council of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and now executive with Microsoft) says that the graph should really be more like this:
Effect of ED Information System on ED Efficiency: Todd Taylor
Who is right?
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At a recent meeting, one of my partners noted how good for patients and emergency physicians it would be if we could access medical records from the rival hospital system in town. It certainly would, but given the controversies between the big players (one giant system that includes hospitals, physicians and a major regional medical insurance provider, a secondary but still-big hospital-physician system, and a regional Blue Shield insurance company) I’m not going to hold my breath.
Electronic Health Record Diagram
Part of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) was to provide funding to develop electronic medical record (EMR) systems nationwide. Some of this money went to providers. Not emergency physicians, thankfully – if we were eligible for these dollars, we would all be individually responsible for developing and maintaining our own medical records systems, as opposed to using the hospital’s medical record system. Other money goes to hospitals that demonstrate meaningful use of EMR systems. Read the rest of this entry