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How to improve patient outcomes by exhibiting meaningful use

Nisa Saleem

Nisa Saleem

Nisa Saleem

Nisa Saleem

Nisa Saleem has a background in IT and knows exactly what impact technology has on healthcare. She writes on the U.S. healthcare industry in general and focuses on the gradual shift from volume-based reimbursement to value-based models. After becoming a part of P3Care.com, she also discovered different aspects of the meaningful use of EHR systems.


The concept of Meaningful Use regulations can be challenging to grasp. Yet, the main thing to understand about them is that while aiming at reduced cost of healthcare and improved patient outcomes, the meaningful use initiative refers to the practical use of EHR systems. So, to get a better idea about meaningful use, let's delve into EHRs.

Meaningful use of EHR in 2018

Out-of-the-box EHRs

Some of the out-of-the-box EHRs used by practices and hospitals on a large scale are Cerner, Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, Epic, VA-CPRS, e-MDs, McKesson, Practice Fusion, Athenahealth, and NextGen. All of them have general functionality associated with EHR systems.

Before purchasing any less known off-the-shelf EHR solution, make sure it meets the guidelines of Certification Committee for Health Information Technology (CCHIT). Along with some operational benefits, certified EHR technology (CEHRT) can streamline workflows, reduce healthcare costs, and enable data access across the hospital network.

Custom EHR development

When developing a custom EHR solution with a certified software vendor, you should clearly understand your needs first. You may even want to create a collaborative environment among the doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and anesthetists of your facility everyone, who will be the end users of the future EHR system. This way, you'll collect everyone's individual work approaches and needs.

The next step is to communicate these needs to healthcare software developers. No matter how experienced a vendor is, they will genuinely appreciate your input, which they will use to create elaborate project specification. Your chance of getting an effective EHR solution depends on how clearly you express your expectations of the future software.

EHR features for meaningful use

User-friendly interface

The more features the app has, the more difficult it is to leverage complex functionality and ease of use. However, a caregiver must find the EHR interface convenient enough to willingly use it on a daily basis. Otherwise, healthcare professionals will do everything to avoid using the EHR system and that's not just inconsistent with the 'meaningful use', but devastating in general.

Smooth integration

For the users of other in-house systems to be able to contribute their data and access the general records, your EHR should be easy to integrate with other internal software. This is necessary to create a hospital data network and allow all the departments to share data with each other.

If integrated with a billing system, an EHR system can speed up the entire healthcare delivery process and facilitate the work of a medical billing department. To make this happen, a software development company should also add HCPCS, CPT, ICD-10 coding system standards to the EHR, as these standards simplify the process of communication with insurance companies.

To take maximum advantage of your EHR system, you can have it integrated with partner pharmacies and laboratories. This way, doctors will be able to easily share the e-prescriptions with the pharmacies and ask labs to run the tests for them.

Documentation handling

Doctors and nurses often complain about the time it takes them to handle documentation, and they have all the rights to do so. If EHR systems are supposed to hold the key to the future, they must be able to assist in the documentation routine of all medical professionals and give them time for more substantial tasks.

There're two ways to do this. First is to include customizable templates of a variety of documents, reflecting all the details in them and letting caregivers input as little data manually, as possible. Second is to implement a voice recording technology, so that doctors could create audio notes. A 'voice to text' feature would be a brilliant addition.

Electronic Prescriptions

Electronic prescriptions are one of the main objectives of meaningful use. With this feature, a patient's chart can contain all the medication ever prescribed to a patient. Such history can help a doctor make a better choice of medication, thus improving patient outcomes. If extended, this feature can even check whether the recently prescribed medication is compatible with the one a patient is already taking and warn a caregiver in case of any dangerous combinations or possible side-effects.

Patient Portal

A patient portal is also one of the requirements of EHR meaningful use. It is an online-available place where a patient can learn everything about their health and check their personal data at any time they want. The information stored on a Patient Portal usually includes:

  • Number of visits to the clinic or hospital
  • Detailed reports of check-ups and examinations
  • Medication prescriptions
  • List of medication a patient is allergic or immune to
  • All laboratory test results.


When developed professionally and with the listed features in mind, an EHR system can truly help to bring meaningful use to hospitals. Make sure to choose your EHR vendor carefully to get an effective solution tailored to your needs and compatible with the meaningful use regulations.