Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements are more complex than the prior stage. CMS continues to raise the bar for providers. The theory is that providers are becoming more proficient in the use of EHRs and therefore it should be easier for them to navigate the new twists and turns on the CMS EHR roadmap. With EHR Meaningful Use penalties just around the corner in 2015 (based on performance in 2013 and or 2014) we expect most providers will want to comply with the Meaningful Use Stage 2 final rule program. There are some new measures that will no doubt impact the workflows of most providers and yet there are also some new functionality built into the next stage of technology that are a real win for providers.

Secure email – The medical community understands that sending PHI (Protected Health Information) via the standard email system is taboo because standard email is not encrypted end-to-end. Not being able to communicate easily via email makes communication between providers clumsy and overly dependent on faxing. There is a protocol called the “Direct Method” that uses some of the same principles of standard email but encrypts all of the content including attachments. The Direct Method of secure email communication must be built into every 2014 version of EHR technology – remember starting in 2014 all users of ONC approved Meaningful Use technology must use the 2014 re-certified edition of their vendor’s software. The best part of using this new built-in secure email technology is that providers on disparate EHR systems will now be able to communicate and exchange patient data with each other securely.

Download All My CDAs – Included in all ONC approved 2014 EHR technology is a way to download all the practice’s patient records in a standard format called the CDA (Clinical Document Architecture). The CDA is the latest version of the PHR (Personal Health Record) standard required for 2014 and it is related to the CCD used in Meaningful Use Stage 1. The ability to download all of a practice’s patient records in CDA format makes it easier for providers to switch EHRs. But, in this case easier does not necessarily mean easy! The content of the CDA required by the ONC is not as comprehensive as most providers would expect if they were interested in plug-n-play data portability. While this is a good first step, most practices will need to augment the ONC mandated method of CDA download with more costly data integration processes should they want a seamless transition from their old EHR to a new one.

These enhancements are mandated by the ONC and every 2014 product will need to demonstrate proficiency prior to certification. Remember certification does not equal usability. With MediTouch EHR we have already integrated the secure messaging experience into our internal task and messaging system, there is no learning curve, if you can send an email than you already know how to send a Direct Project secure communication via the MediTouch system and in the next couple of weeks you will soon be prompted to reserve your new secure email address.

In our next blog post we will discuss more 2014 EHR technology features that should simplify workflows for providers.