Meaningful Use Monday – Meaningful Use Resources

I’m excited to announce the beginning of Meaningful Use Monday on EMR and HIPAA. I first came up with the idea when Lynn Scheps from SRSsoft commented on one of my previous meaningful use posts. Lynn provided such valuable information, I asked her if she’d be interested in becoming a regular guest blogger on EMR and HIPAA. As they say, the rest is history. Each Monday, Lynn (and sometimes myself) will be covering some topic related to the EMR Stimulus money and meaningful use. We hope you enjoy Meaningful Use Monday.

With the impending start of the EHR incentive program on January 1, the results of a recent Health Data Management poll are troublesome. 72% of respondents feel that the meaningful use guidance provided by the government to-date has been either “inadequate and confusing” or “of little use,” with only 8% categorizing it as good.

It is critical to understand the requirements accurately because the regulations provide “no recourse” for providers whose attempt to demonstrate meaningful use is deemed unsuccessful. So where does a provider go for definitive information and answers to their questions?

  • The most reliable source to-date has been the CMS website and its FAQ page, but as I learned when I submitted a question, the term “FAQ” is meant quite literally: An automated response informed me that only “frequently-asked” questions are answered! So, if your question is not a common one, this source will not provide the information you seek.
  • Vendors and medical societies have offered numerous webinars and educational meetings since the legislation was passed in February 2009, but be aware that presenters have varied in their interpretations of some of the requirements.
  • Regional Extension Centers exist to assist providers, but their focus is limited to hospitals and primary care physicians, and they charge for their services. UPDATE: As has been mentioned in the comments, not all RECs charge for their services.
  • Knowledgeable consultants will be very busy and may also be costly.
  • The most promising source:  CMS has just established the EHR Information Center: 1-888-734-6433. If it operates as well as the ePrescribing and PQRI Quality/Net Help Desk, it will be a great source of information. As of the writing of this post (12/23), however, that number is answered with a recording that refers callers back to the CMS website. Hopefully, the Information Center will be live by the start of 2011.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EMR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

About the author

Lynn Scheps

Lynn Scheps

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.


  • Just to rectify a misunderstanding:

    Regional Extension Centers are not focused on hospitals at all (the supplemental small funding for CAH is just for outreach).

    Regional Extension Centers are focused on Primary Care Providers with priority to small practices and those serving needy populations.

    Regional Extension Centers have many resources that are free to all providers as part of outreach & education, and a large number of Regional Extension Centers do not charge anything for consulting services.

    Regional Extension Centers receive regular updates from ONC & CMS and have access to a national community of best practices.

    If you are a physician looking for information and/or assistance, by all means, call your Regional Extension Center. It cannot hurt, and you may end up with $5000 worth of consulting services provided to you completely FREE, no matter what your EHR status is.

  • John and Lynn … super idea providing a recurring MU Monday post addressing the emerging questions, perspectives, and dialog relating to the EMR meaningful use topic. Margalit’s timely comment underscores this innovation’s value when a national heavy hitter in the HIT space jumps in and contributes to the dialog. It underscores for me the value you are providing the community providing the thinking pieces and hosting a productive commentary.

    From the opposite end of the audience as the contrarian I agree 100% with Margalit on the value that the RECs will bring to providers … potentially beyond their current primary care practice audience as HIT development and adoption grows. I suggest that providers of all types should address their questions and thoughts with their local REC and let them find the answers acting as a magnifying glass on what the community wants to know and how it wants to proceed.

    I believe there is far more value in that avenue than hoping your question is one of ONC’s ‘scripted and cleared for public consumption’ FAQ responses. The thing with ONC is that it will only publicly answer questions that support its orientation and will not be in a position of directly answering a question without considerable staffing. The RECs, however, can aggregate and carry local views back to ONC and if numerous RECs are pushing ONC for official answers … there is potential for expanded services to be provided by the RECs and broader and deeper services being delivered to the provider community.

    I support the potential value of HIT to improving the delivery of integrated health care services. I do, however, see that as crafted ONC’s MU metrics may not result in meaningful improvement in national health care services. From my perspective … meaningful use must be defined at the practice level … not the national level … and certainly not by the national Medicare payer. The more that practices contribute their views to their RECs and their professional associations the greater the chance that HIT will result in improved health care outcomes and capacity improvements. To this point the CMS (and ONC) view is clearly more interested in saving money by orienting MU toward reducing expenditures through standardizing treatment regimen in line with how they as a payer think that clinical practice should be provided. For me … that direction does not raise the national wellness bar.

    I like the idea of a recurring MU Monday thinker … and the resulting benefit to advancing the HIT dialog. There is far better chance of getting your thoughts and questions addressed and answered here and through the RECs than through some toll free phone in help desk at ONC. IMO.

  • Welcome Lynn and I’m looking forward to Meaningful Use Monday!!

    Thanks for the clarifications Margarlit about the RECs. They are definitely a resource worth considering for those interested in showing meaningful use.

    Michelle, you’re right about the registration. How did you know that was going to be the topic for the next Meaningful Use Monday? Look forward to that.

    As a side note, it’s a bit odd for me to have Lynn writing since my name is John Lynn. Needless to say I’ll have to be careful when I look at comments to Lynn. Good thing I’ve generally referred to myself as John on the site.

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