What does a hospital intranet have to do with Meaningful Use?


Meaningful Use ProgressOne of the questions we hear often at HospitalPortal.net is “How can I use my intranet to support Meaningful Use?” The reality is there are alot of ways a shrewd hospital can use it’s intranet to advance Meaningful Use efforts. As with other aspects of internal communications in hospitals, half the battle is having a good plan and system in place.

According to an article earlier this week in Healthcare IT News, a substantial contingent of hospital officials do not even know what the requirements for Stage 2 are. Wow–scary! Certainly we all may be dizzy from the moving target of requirements and now whispers of flexibility and hardship exemptions, but it is surprising that hospital officials who actually know what Stage 2 requirements are may be the exception instead of the rule. This certainly sheds light on the size of the problem.

When it comes to something as big as Meaningful Use Stage 2, this is an example of the old adage that in order to grow bigger, you must stay smaller meaning someone has got to divvy up responsibilities and make the right departmental staff accountable. All too often, you end up with a situation where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing and somehow the ball gets dropped. By using bold checklists reflecting statuses and responsible staff combined with solid task management, you can and should hold staff accountable for their areas of responsibility. Not only can you publish CMS documents and resources in this way, but you can set up in-progress checklists to show the current status of each requirement at any point in time. In addition, you can utilize task management to assign tasks to staff and even follow up if tasks are overdue.

But, alas, as is always the case with healthcare, it isn’t that simple. Hospitals are required to maintain documents and data supporting attestion for 6 years post-attestation. This can include source documents from a certified EHR and/or documentation to support how data was accumulated and calculated. The primary document is required to meet strict data and evidence of compliance requirements. So once again, the onus is on healthcare to run a tight ship with archives of documents and to have an ironclad place to store those documents with the ability to produce them for an audit. The intranet is an ideal place to securely store and archive these documents for use when and if needed while not providing access to general staff.

For end users from different areas of the organization, don’t assume that after a brief training they will be proficient with the many new workflows they need to complete repeatedly on a daily basis. The last thing you want is for staff to take shortcuts and develop new bad habits. Provide self-help tools such as role-specific how-to videos for individual workflows. There may be vendor provided resources available or you may be able to identify trustworthy content from other sources. If all else fails, ante up and produce these yourself. The time investment will pay for itself over and over. The main message is to provide your team with the tools they need to be successful.

Another thing we see some hospitals doing is to set up discussion forums to allow staff to discuss pitfalls, tips, and tricks related to your new EHR. You can even publish department-specific tips of the day or week on departmental pages. Publishing FAQs is also a common practice to provide self-service tools to staff.

The ideas mentioned here are some of the most common practices we see being implemented by hospitals to support Meaningful Use. How is your hospital using the intranet related to Meaningful Use?

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