Striving to improve quality of care has been at the heart of medicine since antiquity. Famously inscribed in the Hippocratic Oath – the words, “Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient”. The history of western medicine, ostensibly a testament to science and progress, is sadly peppered with well-intended mishaps and some flat-out horror stories. It’s not till the 1900’s that the practice of medicine became regulated and models in medicine were heavily scrutinized.
Post-WWII US saw the rise of the “quality movement” in medicine that gave birth to our modern health care system. Physician led infrastructures were set in place, such as peer reviews and scientific evidence-based approach to tackling medical and behavior problems. Incentive programs spread protocols and best practices. Although, the movement had modest roots in academia, by 1965 Federal government validated ‘quality movement’ values by establishing Medicare and Medicaid programs – insuring access to quality care for economically challenged and elderly populations. When the bill was passed, the US had 17.5 million people over the age of 65 – two-thirds had an income of less than $1,000/month and only 1 in 8 had health insurance. Increases in the cost of living, and health care costs were rapidly outpacing growth in the incomes of older Americans. 3 years later, 20 million Americans enrolled in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The Dawn of Federal Regulation in Health Care
With a new class of insured Americans, the health care system sprung into action to meet supply and demand. Hospitals, new long term care facilities, and pharmaceutical companies were all hungry for Medicare dollars. Arguably this was a major economic boost in the health care industry. In an effort to regulate how federal money was being spent – Congress established the “Conditions of Participation.” These regulations set the standard of how hospitals should operate. Staff credentials, 24-hour nursing services, and employment of peer reviews became the norm, as they are today. By way of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the Federal government became the prime director of health care standards and by-laws.
2010 marked another pivot in the US Heath Care system – adaption to modern technology and data utilization. “Meaningful Use” is a Medicare and Medicaid incentive program that aims to convert paper patient records to electronic health care records (EHR). The ultimate goal of “Meaningful Use” program is to leverage the data gathered from health care records and discover ways to improve the quality of individual care and the health care system as a whole. The incentive program is broken into 3 stages: Stage 1: Data capture and sharing, Stage 2: Advance clinical processes, Stage 3: Improved outcomes. Leveraging ‘big data’ is a strategy often used by corporations to find efficiencies in their business or service models. Applying the same principles in the practice of medicine and the role of the government in health care has been criticized. Although opinions vary on the subject of “Meaningful Use,” one thing is for sure, the program created a new economic opportunity similar to that of Medicaid and Medicare acts of 1965 – this time within the health IT infrastructure.
The Pervasive Use of Electronic Devices and Electronic Medical Records
The changes that meaningful use has imposed on the healthcare industry are numerous. The need to access Electronic Medical Records has forced healthcare administrators and industry leaders to re – envision the systems and processes they previously used to address patient care concerns. The biggest development to have emerged from the focus on “Meaningful Use” is the need for the entire health care sector to use devices like medical computers and medical tablets. This allows patients and healthcare service providers to easily access Electronic Medical Records.
Advantages and Specifications
The rapid adoption of these measures has resulted in a number of advantages. If the whole healthcare industry is able to adapt to the tenets of meaningful use, the quality of healthcare services, the way these services are delivered, and the safety of each patient should improve. The main thing that administrators need to keep in mind is to adopt an informed approach towards using specific technological tools to achieve all of these objectives. Not every electronic device available on the market is in alignment with the standards of meaningful use. Before you decide to purchase an all – in – one computer or a medical tablet make sure that they possess the specifications required to run Electronic Medical Records software.
Hospital administrators need to be familiar with the software platforms that can process Electronic Medical Records. The main thing that you need to do is to purchase computers and electronic devices that come bundled with Epic, Cerner, and Allscripts software. Certification is also a concern that hospital IT administrators need to address. Before you can work on devices that run on Epic software, you need to go through the training program that Epic provides in their own headquarters. Once you have demonstrated a certain level of proficiency in each module of the training program, your company will be able to use devices that run Epic software.
The Cybernet Advantage
In order to address the requirements that have emerged from an increased sense of focus on meaningful use, it is essential for healthcare service providers to work with companies that can respond to their IT-related needs. You have to look for companies that manufacture all-in-one computers and medical tablets that are EPIC certified and tested with Electronic Medical Records software. Make sure that each device you purchase is included in Epic’s approved list of vendors as well. Meaningful use will have far reaching effects on the healthcare industry and the best way for you to maintain your competitive edge is to use devices that conform to these new standards.