Health care providers often ask why they should implement their organizationâ€™s preferred electronic health record (EHR) when a less expensive option promises to meet meaningful use standards. The answer lies in difference between certification and meaningful useâ€”two concepts worth reviewing.
Meaningful use refers to the way documentation and data exchange can enhance efficiency and quality among providers, payers, and patients. As a result, meaningful use is not about products, but about processes. Itâ€™s about how data flows through an entire system of stakeholders. Thus, it can be argued that vendors should not be making claims about meaningful use.
Certification, on the other hand, refers to a productâ€™s featuresâ€”something a vendor can make claims about.
The problem is, we donâ€™t yet have final certification criteria. Â The certification process will be defined in a December 2009 â€œnotice of proposed rulemakingâ€ (NPRM). However, a period of comment will follow, so we wonâ€™t have the final definition until the spring. As a result, weâ€™d argue that itâ€™s too early for any vendor to claim its product will meet all certification criteria.
So, what should you look for in a EHR today? Until certification is defined, a vendor can claim that its product conforms with the latest Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) criteriaâ€”the best indicator of functionality we have at the moment. And, a vendor can promise that it will modify its product to meet certification standards when they are releasedâ€”which allows you to purchase an EHR today and begin reaping the benefits sooner.
Keep these things in mind as you decide which EHR to use.
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