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Meaningful Use Big Business For Healthcare Consulting Firms

IT consulting firms are helping healthcare providers assess health IT systems for potential HIPAA violations and achieve the fine points of meaningful use compliance.

"They know that when the going gets rough, we'll be there," Encore president and CEO Dana Sellers said in an interview with InformationWeek while attending the HIMSS conference.

"You can't just install the systems, you need to understand the process, capture discrete data, get it back out to aggregate, report on it, and use it," she said. "The HITECH Act and healthcare reform is about improving outcomes."

The work involved with meaningful use stage 1 compliance entails pretty specific details, including calculating numerators and denominators related to the various measures that healthcare providers must meet, such as 30% of unique patients having at least one drug on their medication list ordered through CPOE.

"You need 90 days of continuous compliance" when attesting about meaningful use to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid for HITECH Act incentive payments, Sellers said.

Healthcare providers who think they're meeting the measures sometimes discover that they're not. For instance, upon analysis, one healthcare provider that was exceeding meaningful use guidelines by achieving CPOE use for 40% of patients during the week was surprised to find that CPOE use dropped to 15% on weekends, Sellers said.

In cases like those, sometimes clinical staff not comfortable with using CPOE systems need to get more training or be reminded to scrap the paper orders.

Deloitte also offers assistance to healthcare providers in their meaningful use attestation processes.

"We'll help make sure you get every dollar you think you should get from the meaningful use program," Morris said. "There's a series of documents you have to sign off on" when completing CMS meaningful use attestation, he added.

If healthcare providers mess up their meaningful use program attestation and receive financial rewards they're not entitled to, they could be found out during later CMS audits, Morris said.

If that happens, "CMS won't call it a mistake, they’ll call it fraud," he warned.

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