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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 III

Terry McLeod Updated: Apr 19th 2011

The practical implications for professionals and consumers of meeting Meaningful Use measures with the Electronic Health Record (EHR) can be quite positive. I commented on the first ten of the fifteen measures in the last couple posts, and we'll explore the balance today.

computer and stethescopeThe measures are intended as a way for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ( to confirm that the EHR is being well-used. Computerizing mental health and substance abuse treatment organizations with software that works also needs to fit into the plan for a national health record (), with the goal of improving health for all Americans. From a national perspective, communication among healthcare professionals, improving efficiency, effectiveness and increasing outcomes data for research are good results of the effort for a national health record that started so long ago. It's also important to protect consumers' privacy; today's plan for that is pretty effective.

Incentives from Medicaid are over $63,000 per prescriber, reason enough for some professionals' organizations to seek them.

Here are a few tidbits about practical value of meeting the Meaningful Use measures in your EHR.

11. Clinical Decision Support Rule: This sounds tougher than it is, and the value is simple. For example, if, during an intake, a prospective consumer shares he is suicidal, then it's a requirement to administer a suicide assessment. If the assessment scores in the danger zone, the treatment organization may set a policy (automated in the EHR) to pay some additional attention to that in the form of increased services. Periodic scores from the same assessment could be output to a report that gauges improvement of the condition. This tracks effectiveness of the rule, which pays off greatly for professionals and consumers alike. If the clinical decisions are not leading to better outcomes, that's brought to the forefront of attention, and whatever's not working can be improved.

12. Electronic Copy of Health Information: A few hospitals and mental health treatment agencies have integrated a Consumer Portal into their EHR. This delivers a consumer the information via a secure Internet connection. The major concern is complying with HIPAA security requirements and keeping a consumer's health information from leaking to others. The portals are designed to securely deliver information like blood or urine test results, problem and medication lists, even medication allergies to the consumer…it's the consumer's treatment record, and she's entitled to it. Naturally, not all treatment organizations will want to maintain a Consumer Portal, and those organizations can elect to provide electronic media to the consumer within three days of the request.

13. Clinical Summaries: Did you ever leave a professional's office wondering what just happened, and if the money for the treatment was well spent? Clinical Summaries are a written description of what happened in that session's treatment, whether medications were prescribed, a counseling session occurred, or other service offered by the healthcare professional. The information can be available on the Consumer Portal, however other electronic formats or even a printed copy are acceptable under this measure. Whether or not the money is well spent, you'll at least know what just went on, and since the information is yours, it's supposed to be part of the service and not charged.

14. Electronic Exchange of Clinical Information: This is one of my favorite parts of the electronic approach. I abhor filling out duplicate information. It always bugs me when I have to repeat the same information within an organization that's supposed to be serving me…This measure assures that certain information can be shared not only within an organization, but also among healthcare providers. The consumer controls this sharing of data, and if she doesn't want certain information shared, it's supposed to be excluded. A good outcome of this is reduced mistakes, eliminating human keystrokes on the computer and electronic updating of information automatically when a consumer visits a new professional.

15. Protect Electronic Health Information: Consumers deserve privacy, and that's the outcome of this measure. It's the consumer's decision to share information...or not. HIPAA security has been pretty effective and around a while, so this sort of protection is not a reach.

Meaningful Use measures assure EHRs meet standards. From what I've seen, the standards are reasonable and carry true benefits for both the consumer and the professional.

Beyond these measures, the next subtopic in this line of thought for me to cover is the Menu Set Measures...but that's another day.


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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