Magazine article American Nurse Today

Meaningful Use Is a Workforce Issue

Magazine article American Nurse Today

Meaningful Use Is a Workforce Issue

Article excerpt

AS YOU'RE PROBABLY AWARE, meaningful use refers to use of electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) pays eligible hospitals and physician providers if they meet specific objectives in documenting care. Three stages of increasingly complex metrics exist for the information that must be documented.

Some nurses view meaningful use largely as an organization's responsibility and problem. Many see it as a physicians' issue because they are the targeted group responsible for meeting meaningful use requirements. Unfortunately, nurses don't see a role for themselves in the program.

But not so fast: A reputable consultant described meaningful use to me as an attempt to get physicians to document basic healthcare information and practices more consistently and thoroughly (Medical Records Completion 101, so to speak). But much of the basic documentation is done or guided by nurses. National nursing organizations made a concerted effort to include nursing's role in meaningful use legislation. The effort failed because the federal government feared the changes would dilute the focus on improving physician behaviors.

Meaningful use can take meaningful time

Meaningful use appears to be all about documenting that the physician is doing everything necessary to ensure the patient is being treated as a whole person and not just for his or her presenting complaint. In fact, more demands are being placed on nurses to provide more patient care and education, particularly on the inpatient side. In stages 2 and 3 of the meaningful use incentive program, nurses are influencing and doing more of the documentation. Increasingly, nurses are saying that meaningful use is taking meaningful time away from essential patient care and contact. …

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