From almost every direction, echoes of concern have been heard across the industry regarding the practicality of the Meaningful Use expectations.

Last week, iHealthBeat.org published an article, ‘Meaningful Use’: Is There a Plan B?, that reflected an anxiety among various healthcare leaders, from the Mayo Clinic to small rural hospitals, on their ability to implement the changes needed to satisfy the Meaningful Use criteria. In the same vein, Healthcare IT News published an article, HIMSS calls for speedy but realistic progress on meaningful use, which addressed an additional timing concern for Meaningful Use expectations.

Neal Neuberger, executive director of the Institute for e-Health Policy, was quoted acknowledging the complexity of the Meaningful Use implementation. "These are not so much technological issues, but complex organizational issues that require some sophisticated approaches involving literally millions of players," said Neuberger.

Technologically, as Neuberger mentioned, the change to a HITECHAs a part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) refers to the portion of the ARRA that is used to increase the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by ph... More system is reasonable. With the assistance of an integration engine interfacing between hospitals, clinics, radiology practices and other facilities, for example, the transition to an approved EMRElectronic Medical Record (EMR), as defined in Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms (The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, April 28, 2008): An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be... More/EHR system is significantly smoother. Instead, major concerns seem to be regarding the time, finances and confidence needed to satisfy the Meaningful Use requirements.

As with any investment, in order to make a meaningful, or quality, transition to Meaningful Use, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Plan ahead.

On June 18, the Office of the National Coordinator announced the final rules for the temporary certification process involving HITECH and Meaningful Use expectations. Evaluating an organizations’ current, and expected, ability to satisfy the expectations of Meaningful Use will give a clear indication on the difficulty of the road ahead.

Erica Drazen, managing partner of consulting firm CSC’s Healthcare Group, offers one suggestion in Healthcare IT News’ article, Advice: Start now to appraise fitness of EHRs. "Because meaningful use incentives require a currently certified system, and the requirements will increase in 2013, system purchases and implementation plans should consider current and expected future requirements,” said Drazen.

Keep your balance.

Finding a balance between a robust foundation and innovation is essential for the success of any healthcare organization throughout the imminent industry shift. A recent Corepoint Health GENi blog post, Being innovative in Health IT: What is the balance?, discusses the importance of this balance when achieving Meaningful Use.

Be patient.

Many changes will undoubtedly take place over the next several years across the healthcare industry. Maintaining an “attitude of patience,” as explained in Healthcare IT News’ article, Three words on meaningful use: Perspective, patience and people, will ease the transition to the new system.

Having confidence that patient care will improve following the implementation of Meaningful Use is a necessity for the ultimate success of the program. The transition to Meaningful Use is doable and preparing for the change while maintaining a balanced approach and “patient attitude” will not only smooth the transition, but will help position your organization as an innovative leader within a HITECH world.

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