Using health IT to meet MU requirements enhances care

Using health IT to meet MU requirements enhances care

As an increasing number of providers adopt health IT to streamline essential processes and workflows, the effectiveness of meaningful use standards has become a major topic of discussion within the health care industry. Another factor that has attracted physicians toward implementing EHR systems is the financial incentives providers receive from the government for adhering to meaningful use requirements.

There has been debate over the past several months as to whether these standards benefit practices and facilities or inhibit health professionals from delivering high-quality care. A recent study found that the meaningful use objectives do enhance care for diabetes patients.

MU objectives improve care for practices using diabetes registries
The underlying aim of the meaningful use requirements is to encourage providers to enhance their patient care and improve population health outcomes. To see if this was the case when using diabetes registries to meet meaningful use standards, researchers examined patients treated at facilities with and without registries. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, showed that meeting meaningful use with this method led to improved health care quality.

To find out how many providers used diabetes registries, the researchers used a practice assessment poll for exact numbers. The poll included over 12,000 patients with diabetes and more than 50 primary care practices. Insurance claims data collected from over five years ago was examined before comparing the health outcomes for patients who visited a hospital or practice that relied on diabetes registries to the outcomes from other care settings.

According to JAMIA, the researchers assessed the information using a logistics hierarchical linear model. The patients with Type 2 diabetes who visited a practice that used diabetes registries were more likely to attend dilated retinal exams and laboratory testings due to the automatic scheduled reminders. As a result, these patients were less likely to return to the hospital for an incident that could have been avoided with proper follow-ups and testing.

These findings show that providers who strive to meet meaningful use standards with diabetes registries have better care outcomes and see fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits. The reminders and automatic updates were key to ensuring that patients stay on top of their health and prevent future hospital visits. 

Mobile health IT makes care delivery easier
The tools provided by the diabetes registries are similar to those featured in electronic health records. They increase convenience and enhance the efficiency at which patients are cared for. Features like patient portals also make it easier for physicians to encourage patient engagement and ensure that aspects like treatment methods are accurate.

Digital health solutions like health and wellness trackers also have the potential to help patients manage chronic diseases. Essential health data can be sent to physicians' EHR systems to enhance communication and track disease progression. For example, Tactio and Influence Health have recently released devices that connect with EHRs so patients can manage their health.

"With Influence Health and Tactio, patients can track their health on their iPhone, iPad and Android devices," Michel Nadeau, president, CEO and founder of the Tactio Health Group, said in a company press release. "They can receive the coaching and education to live healthier lifestyles and better control chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis and COPD. Additionally, with consistent branding across an organization's website, patient portal and mobile health apps, patients are able to access the healthcare organization they trust – anytime, from anywhere."

The ability for these devices to connect to EHR systems where physicians can view and store the information allows patients to track factors like their weight and blood pressure. There are also EHR venders that offer mobile applications where users will find the patient portals and important information right at their fingertips.