You’ve probably heard the words “meaningful use” thrown around…  but what is it?  Basically, it’s using electronic health record technology to: 1) Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities; 2) Engage patients and family; 3) Improve care coordination, and population and public health; and 4) Maintain privacy and security of patient health information.  

Using electronic health records in a meaningful way will result in better clinical and public/population health outcomes, increased transparency and efficiency, and more robust research data on health systems that can be used to improve efficiency and reduce costs.  Meaningful use sets specific objectives that eligible professionals and hospitals must achieve to qualify for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Incentive Programs

A few years ago, Congress authorized about $25B in incentive payments to hospitals and healthcare providers to encourage them to electronically exchange health information in a meaningful way. The project is called Meaningful Use. There are several criteria that folks need to meet, some of which are related to public and population health. These include the capability to electronically transfer information into immunization registries, cancer registries, and other specialized registries; the electronic transmission of laboratory reports to the public health surveillance system; and rapid electronic transmission of sentinel indicators to monitor for public health events prior to formal diagnosis.   

Over the past few years, we’ve been working with our partners at Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology, Arizona Health-e Connection, and AHCCCS to develop our infrastructure to receive these messages and support providers in the community to meet the Meaningful Use criteria.  Earlier this month we helped to put on a full-day workshop for 90 hospital and vendor participants to introduce the required standards, tools and processes to fulfill the Meaningful Use objective related to electronic laboratory reporting. There were also short sessions on other public health Meaningful Use topics. 

This workshop provided valuable resources to providers in the community and demonstrated great collaborations across multiple agencies in Arizona. Materials from the workshop and more information about our efforts to assist providers in achieving Meaningful Use are posted on our website.