Someone had a heatstroke? Obviously, no time wasted with poor EMT service because the side of the rescue squad reads “ISO 9000 Certified”. Medics respond and its time to watch the certified process make a guaranteed quality rescue! Out comes the ISO 9000 manual and here comes certified quality! Stretcher pulled out, patient attached, stretcher turned upside down, patient and stretcher deposited upside-down in the vehicle and off they go to the ER. Here is ISO certified process followed by quality patient care…right? NO! Why not? Achieving ISO 9000 and simply documenting existing processes with no improvement is a complete waste of effort. In the medical profession, this begs the questions “What is meaningful use and who is it meaningful to?”
Meaningful use has monetary incentives attached but what is the real value? Is the value the income for the PM/EMR vendors, the economic incentive to the practice or improved care for the patient? In reality, the answer is “all of the above”, but the best answer is improved care for the patient. In any service industry, including healthcare, putting anyone except the customer first will be a long-term detriment to the organization. To keep focused on the long-term goals, questions to consider are:
- Is the practice management application being efficiently utilized prior to meaningful use?
- Is the EMR application being efficiently utilized prior to meaningful use?
- Is the primary goal for the benefit of the patient, the benefit of the practice or other reasons?
- Is the criteria for and the process of attaining meaningful use being viewed as:
- The ceiling or the floor for all future PM/EMR efficiencies?
- An opportunity for financial gain of for implementing change, improvement and efficiencies for the practice?
If meaningful use is being followed solely with the practice in mind, it would seem that patient care runs the risk of suffering. However, if it is being pursued solely with the patient in mind, it would seem that the practice profitability runs the risk of suffering. Like everything in life, the answer is a proper balance of more than one goal. A practice is in the business of healing and profitability. Focusing primarily (not solely) on the patient and secondarily (not solely) on the practice should allow both to derive optimal benefit from meaningful use.
When all is said and done, is the end result meaningful abuse, meaningful misuse, meaningless use or is it actually meaningful use and meaningful to whom? Will ongoing internal practice and technological improvements stop when the third-party economic incentives are discontinued? The answer to these questions will have a big influence on the opinion, implementation, impact and beneficiaries of meaningful use.