What Is Meaningful Use?
Many of the mental and behavioral health care providers I speak with don’t know about Meaningful Use or the stimulus funds available to them; others have heard of it but don’t know the specifics. What is Meaningful Use (MU) and how can it affect you as a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor or social worker? It’s referred to by many different titles and names, such as ONC-ACTB, ARRA, CCHIT and “certified”, but all of this jargon refers to the same thing:
In a nutshell, the federal government created a program, overseen by CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), to provide stimulus incentive funds to get health care providers off of paper records and onto EMR/EHRs (electronic medical records/electronic health records). For an EMR or EHR to be Meaningful Use certified, it is rigorously tested by a qualified third party that the government has approved to provide testing, such as the Drummond Group or CCHIT. This process ensures compliance with all of the rules of MU and includes high levels of security testing.
To qualify as an EP (eligible professional) for this program, you must prescribe medications. What this means for those of us in the mental & behavioral health care fields is that, if you prescribe medications or have someone on your staff who does, your business qualifies to participate in the program. If not, you’re not an EP.
If your business qualifies and you’d like to participate, you have to provide documentation that proves that you are using a MU certified program in a meaningful way, by meeting thresholds known as CQMs (clinical quality measures) for a number of objectives. What exactly does that mean?
Meaningful use includes both a core set and a menu set of 25 meaningful use objectives that are specific to eligible professionals. To qualify for an incentive payment, 20 of these 25 objectives must be met: 15 required core objectives and 5 objectives chosen from a list of 10 menu set objectives. There are 2 options for reporting this: attestation or electronic reporting pilots. Click here for details.
I’ll be delving into details of each of these aspects in the future, but hopefully that provides you with a brief overview for now. Click here for my handy-dandy Meaningful Use acronym guide.