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Terry McLeod of ehrSIO ProjectsehrSIO Projects
A blog about the technical and software sides of mental health and addictions

What's Meaningful Use Mean to Me? - Part I

Terry McLeod Updated: Apr 5th 2011

In the Electronic Health Record (EHR) business, we have been pointing professionals and the organizations they work for in the direction of collecting incentives from Medicaid for proving they are effectively using the her. Mental health and substance abuse treatment agencies stand to collect good money for meeting Meaningful Use requirements (over $63,000 per prescriber meeting the requirements.

laptop and stethescopeSo what? What's that mean, how can it be good for the consumer and the professional helping them?

There are fifteen "core measures" to be proven in meeting the requirements and collect the incentive payments. Tackling the first few of them, here's how they affect both the consumer and the professional. Since the biggest payoff for agencies seeking these incentives appears to be in Medicaid, we're assuming 30% of a prescriber's work serves Medicaid patients, and they write over 100 prescriptions in the reporting period.

1. CPOE for Medication Orders: That would be Computerized Physician Order Entry. A prescriber just having the capability to maintain records on the computer keeps a ton of treatment information easily accessible. If a medication's not working, the record helps prescribers determine whether a dose increase, perhaps another drug, or some other measure will be more helpful. From the consumer's side, CPOE not only shortens their visit and helps zero in on good medications for their conditions, it also sets the stage to send the prescription to their neighborhood pharmacy, a later requirement that eliminates the need to call in or drop off a prescription and delay picking up the medication they need.

2. Drug Interaction and Allergy Checks: One of the greatest features this functionality delivers is a safety net for prescribing. Alerts are built into most CPOE systems to avoid prescribing multiple medications that interact poorly with one another or might aggravate an allergy, which carries the possibility of undesirable side effects like sickness or death. Both professional and consumer like this idea. After all, prescribers are only human, and oversights or mistakes can be made. These alerts help avoid such problems.

3. Maintain a Problem List: If a professional doesn't have immediate, up to date information regarding all of a patient's diagnoses, she doesn't know what to treat. This hampers development of a treatment plan. If a consumer has a diagnosis of alcoholism and a diagnosis of depression, different treatments apply for the multiple problems, goals and objectives in the treatment plan; conditions can aggravate one another. Past diagnosis' can recur, so noting a previously resolved issue on the problem list can help a professional make good treatment decisions. Consumers deserve well informed treatment for their problems. If a problem list is intrusive, in the professional's face, there's a much higher likelihood of staying focused on treatment goals that are agreed upon between the professional and the consumer.

4. Electronic Prescribing: This is the actual delivery of a prescription to the neighborhood pharmacy mentioned above. This feature lowers liability for professionals because the handwriting problem is eliminated...the right dose of the right medication is assured to be legible with electronic prescribing. This is vital to the continued health of the consumer, and pharmacies like the idea because it decreases time they spend on the phone verifying illegible prescriptions.

5. Active Medication List: Similar to the problem list (professionals seem to have a lot of lists), this list provides an immediate update for a professional of not only the consumer's current status, but the history...if a medication has been effective or ineffective in the past, it may help, hurt or be a waste of time in the future. A consumer may not remember medications that he's used in the past, or get the name of a medication wrong that he thought worked well for him (take a look at a list of medication names and you can see it could be easy to make a mistake. The medication list provides an accurate record.

If you're a professional who wants to take advantage of Meaningful Use incentives, the link cited above delivers the hoops you'll have to jump through immediately. As far as the EHR goes, check out a few of my previous posts for some valuable tips.

Next week, I'll explain a few more of these elements of a good Electronic Health Record (EHR).


Terry McLeod

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a required part of our society, and improving business workflows with the EHR is imperative for the survival of your local mental health and addictions treatment clinics. Terry McLeod provides the bridge between the mental health and addictions professional and the technical world, as well as the glue to keep it working. Contact McLeod at and get more information from his website and blog,

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