"Physicians hate lists and once you think of meaningful use as a list, you are doomed to failure," Loughlin said at the Medical Group Management Association Conference in San Antonio. The program does provide qualification criteria in list format, he acknowledged, but the way to streamline adoption of meaningful use is to describe the criteria not as discrete tasks, but rather as steps part of any practice's given workflow.
Loughlin then proceeded to assign each Stage 2 meaningful use measure to broad workflow categories, beginning with the pre-visit and ending with post-visit follow-up. In between are such steps as registration, intake, visit, and check-out. At each step, various MU measures-such as capturing patient demographics-can be done at check-in. Only a handful of the measures require hands-on work by physicians, he noted, such as reviewing lab results and creating the problem list.
Loughlin warned of several common industry practices that threaten to undermine the purpose of meaningful use to improve patient care. Some practices are merely taking paper-based processes and applying them to the computer. One practice he visited continues to document on paper and just transfers the minimum necessary data into its EHR to qualify. That approach won't work in later stages of MU, which put emphasis on sharing data outside the organization and with patients. Other practices rely too heavily on "out of the box" software, implementing alerts without modifying them, Loughlin contended. That can lead to needless alerts, which are a nuisance.