What Hospitals Want

Hospitals are evaluating their strategies on how to achieve meaningful use criteria.  Part of this evaluation is the three optional criteria geared toward public health.  The question for public health to answer is how to get hospitals and other eligible providers to select these criteria.

The introduction of meaningful use, the impact of HITECH, and the push for health information exchange have made a healthcare IT a dynamic, challenging environment.  IT leaders are looking at strategies to comply with these initiatives, understand the impact on clinical care, and ensure full reimbursement.  No small feat.  In talking to healthcare IT personnel over the last few months, there were a few points of insight gained that benefit public health.

  1. Communication. IT personnel have a lot going on.  Don’t assume that they understand the optional criteria for public health.  Don’t assume that hospitals already participating in an established system realize that theyalready meet some of the optional criteria.   Health departments need to communicate with healthcare providers to ensure they understand the approach being taken in their region to meet the public health criteria.
  2. Clarity. Healthcare IT personnel need to make plans on how to achieve the meaningful use criteria.  They need clear explanations of how the process will work to contribute to the public health system and demonstrate compliance.
  3. Simplicity. IT personnel are looking for an easy win.  The want  a step-by-step guide for participating in the public system, that can be assigned directly to a member of the IT team.  Straightforward processes and answers will go a long way to influencing IT decision makers to select the optional criteria.

The single biggest challenge is bridging the communication gap.  For most of the meaningful use criteria, healthcare has to demonstrate that their system complies.  This means using a certified software system or implementing functionality that can be certified and approved.  Working with a public health data system doesn’t follow the same process.   What process is to be used needs to be made clear to healthcare IT if they are to select the optional criteria.