4 Steps to Engage Patients While Meeting Meaningful Use Requirements

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The focus on engaging patients in their care and the need to meet meaningful use requirements converge in one online tool: the patient portal. Patient portals on a health system's website can allow patient to easily schedule appointments, contact their provider and access other resources, which engages them in their care. These portals also help hospitals and physicians fulfill meaningful use stage 2 requirements of providing patients the ability to view their health information online and using electronic health records to identify patient-specific education resources.

Dr. Ed Fotsch is CEO of PDR Network.Ed Fotsch, MD, CEO of PDR Network, shares four steps hospital leaders should follow to implement patient portals to both engage patients and meet meaningful use requirements.

1. Understand the new requirements of meaningful use stage 2. Under stage 2, eligible providers and hospitals have to enable patients to view their health information online and download and transmit it. EPs and hospitals also have to use EHRs to identify patient-specific education resources, with the added requirement for hospitals of providing those resources to the patient when appropriate. In addition, EPs have to identify patients who should receive reminders for preventive and follow-up care and communicate relevant health information to patients electronically.

A patient portal that has secure messaging can help hospitals and EPs achieve these objectives, which also engage patients. For example, providing education to patients involves them in their care and promotes shared decision-making.

2. Educate providers on the new meaningful use stage 2 requirements. Hospitals should educate all providers on the new requirements, including affiliated and owned physician practices, according to Dr. Fotsch. This education ensures everyone connected with the hospital is aware of the requirements, which supports coordinated care.

3. Implement EHR systems and features that offer proactive patient portal services.
"Up until now, the essential features of a patient portal were largely administrative (a provider website with registration and secure messaging for appointment reminders, lab results, billing questions, etc.). Now patient portals must also offer patients access to their basic record as well as proactive patient education and clinical reminders," Dr. Fotsch says.

4. Look for services that can fulfill meaningful use stage 2 requirements without adding to cost or workload. Successful implementation of patient portals requires smooth integration into providers' current workflow, according to Dr. Fotsch. He suggests automating patient portal features, such as having e-prescribing automatically trigger drug education for patients. He also recommends hospital leaders discuss patient portal features with their EHR vendors. "Ask them what they are planning to fulfill meaningful use stage 2 patient education and reminder requirements without adding to cost or workload," he says. "How are they integrating this new requirement into existing workflow?"

More Articles on Meaningful Use:

CMS Updates 2014 Meaningful Use Clinical Quality Measures
Bill Aims to Amend HITECH, Modify Meaningful Use Requirements

Healthcare Associations Urge CMS to Slow Stage 3 Meaningful Use Plans

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