The Challenges of Meeting Meaningful Use Requirements: What We’re Hearing from Public Health

In a previous HMS blog entry, Vice President of Business Development Penn Krause provided insights on the article Public Health Struggling to meet Meaningful Use Challenges.  As our friends in Public Health know, this isn’t new news. Last July, Barbara White (@frombarbara) tweeted the struggles of local public health officials (see Tech Target)

While it’s true that Public Health departments are wrestling with hard decisions on how to move forward—quickly—I don’t believe that should be defined as struggling.

We are in a unique position at HMS; we are working with a number of hospitals and health departments across the country, hearing their stories of what is working and what isn’t. Let’s consider some basic questions we hear from public health departments all across the country—these issues have arisen in just the past month:

  • How do I fund this? Will the funds be available on an ongoing basis?
  • Who is responsible for coordinating with Medicare and Medicaid to support self-attestation?
  • The state hospital association wants to preview and approve the data requirements before we submit them to the hospitals, is that the right approach?
  • My eligible professionals desperately want to connect, but they are lacking in funding and technical expertise. One hospital system won’t connect unless we’re able to work with all of their allied EPs concurrently.
  • There is a lot of pressure to work with the state HIE but it isn’t even operable yet.  Syndromic, lab, and immunization data aren’t even on their radar.  The implementation plan would require us to write a query mechanism to pull, not just get the data.  What am I supposed to do?
  • What technical resources will I need? I am not familiar with HL7 and data collection. I don’t have the background to understand and implement the ISDS recommendations for syndromic surveillance.
  • What is a test message? I have a hospital that sent one message, but it was garbled and our system failed. Does this count as a success?

These inquiries prove that Public Health’s challenges are very real, and continually evolving. Most issues revolve around collaboration efforts with other branches of government, organizations, associations, and vendors—anyone who has worked in that environment knows it isn’t a struggle; it is an endurance event.

We’ll be following up with additional blog posts on recommendations and best practices based on what we’ve seen. If you have the chance, post comments with your thoughts, or drop us a line at