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Meaningful Use FAQs

What is meaningful use?

Meaningful use is a government incentive program run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reward investment in electronic health records. It’s a five-year program rolled out in multiple stages. CMS has developed a set of objectives (such as maintaining a medication list for each patient or providing patients with electronic copies of their records) and quality measures (such as appropriate management of patients with diabetes) to guide adoption of electronic health records. To receive meaningful use incentives, providers and hospitals need to demonstrate meeting this set of objectives and quality measures.

How will CareConnect help us meet the objectives and quality measures?

Compared to what we have now, CareConnect provides a vast improvement in the ease of gathering and reporting data. The records needed to meet meaningful use objectives and quality measures will be collected automatically in CareConnect.

How will it affect me?

By using CareConnect’s powerful features, such as a shared problem and medication list, you will be helping to achieve meaningful use. Taking advantage of these features not only will help improve patient care and efficiency, but will also help satisfy the requirements for meaningful use. You will learn how to use these features during your training sessions.

How will I be measured?

Your performance on the objectives and clinical quality measures will be monitored, and you will receive feedback on how you're doing. If there are objectives and measures that are particularly difficult to attain, the CareConnect team will develop solutions for you. Some options could include building additional tools to help you, reviewing your current workflow, or setting up additional training sessions.

What do I need to do now?

For now, there's nothing to do. You'll learn everything you need to do to satisfy meaningful use requirements during your CareConnect training.

We're already reporting on clinical quality, what's different about meaningful use?

Some of the objectives and measures for meaningful use do overlap with measures we currently monitor in programs for The Joint Commission, CMS, among others. Because we haven’t had an electronic health record system until CareConnect, however, there are a considerable number of objectives and measures in meaningful use that we do not capture now.

What is the basis for meaningful use measures?

Meaningful use measures are based on CMS’ position that electronic health records should improve “health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety.” The measures were determined by input from various government committees, including the National Center for Vital Health Statistics, the HIT Policy Committee, and the HIT Standards Committee, as well as from public comment.

How will the change in go-live for our hospitals affect Medicare Meaningful Use incentives for UCLA Health System?

There will be no change in incentives, because our go-live will still take place within the originally planned federal government’s 2013 fiscal year (October 2012 to September 2013). By going live on March 1, 2013, we still have six months to meet Meaningful Use requirements within that time period.

Is there anything else I should know about Meaningful Use?

UCLA providers who also work outside of UCLA should not attest for Meaningful Use at their non-UCLA organization. If they do so, they will become ineligible for Meaningful Use at UCLA.

How does a physician satisfy Stage 1 of meaningful use?

Physicians (eligible professionals) need to meet a set of 20 objectives. The objectives selected by UCLA have been extensively researched and chosen based on input from various members of the UCLA community. Each objective has a threshold associated with it. For example, one objective requires that computerized physician order entry (CPOE) must be used for 30% of patients who have at least one medication in their medication list. Another objective states that demographics must be recorded for 50% of a physician’s patients. Click here to visit the CMS website where detailed summaries are provided for each of the Stage 1 objectives.

In addition, physicians need to report on at least six clinical quality measures. Examples of clinical quality measures are: appropriate testing for children with pharyngitis; preventative measures such as mammograms and colon cancer screening; treatment of chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, and ischemic vascular disease. To view all measures, look at the Eligible Professionals Measure Specifications.

Will CareConnect collect the other data we’re currently reporting to agencies and registries?

No, not immediately. Except for meaningful use data and the core measures we’re required to report to The Joint Commission, our current state of data collection and reporting will remain the same once CareConnect is implemented. We will continue to provide data extracts to all our stakeholders, including decision support, Faculty Practice Group P4P, quality, and others. Chart abstraction will continue, although the process will be easier since charts are electronic rather than paper.

In the future, however, CareConnect will support databases and registries. CareConnect will gather lessons learned from automating collection and reporting of meaningful use and Joint Commission core measures during implementation and apply them to CareConnect during the optimization phase to enable the system to support database population and registry submissions.

What data will CareConnect provide that we don't have now?

At go-live, CareConnect will offer abundant new data for electronic extraction: histories, medications, orders, and problems lists, just to name a few.