Embedding MU in Daily Operations

Bio_BethWhere Should You Put Meaningful Use?

By Beth Houck, VP of Client Services, SA Ignite

MU isn’t going away and organizations are going to need to embed MU into their daily operations to avoid fatigue, overuse of resources and exposure to audit. Tom Lee, our founder, has spoken and written extensively about “How to put MU on autopilot,” and one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of that theme is how best to get all of the constituencies required to achieve MU success collaborating in an efficient and effective manner.

After a few recent client conversations, I’ve heard how organizations have shifted where they house the leadership of their MU program.  When the program first began, it was the IT departments that understood how the MU measures were counted based on the technical configurations within the EHR.  As such, MU was seen as an IT initiative and all direction for the program originated in this department.  In many of those cases, meeting MU was about training staff where to click and checking to see that measures were counting correctly – not necessarily a given.  For these reasons, I think the program started exactly where it should:  with the people that could most quickly troubleshoot issues outside of a provider’s control.

Lately, I’ve been seeing where organizations are moving the responsibility for the MU program into the quality department, to be run alongside PQRS and other quality reporting initiatives.  My quick reaction to hearing this was immediately positive.  With Stage 2’s increased thresholds and complexity for providers, I believe it should be led from the department best equipped and accustomed to working with providers to change behavior.  However, I’m often telling these folks to be sure that they fully understand the EHR and how the providers need to be interfacing with it.  I’ve seen too many measures missed simply because of overlooked configuration errors.

It may sound like I am arguing to put the program back into IT, here, but I think the real answer is that there are pros and cons to both approaches, and depending on a  given organizational structure, either can work.   In the end, the where does matter as much as the fact that we all know MU won’t be successful in a silo, no matter which one it is, and cross-departmental collaboration is the critical success factor for MU success.

If you are considering what to do with your program, think about the following:

  • Will the leader have full support of the operational leadership as he/she works to integrate behavior change into the day-to-day?
  • Does the leader have access to the analytical tools and reports to quickly direct training or remediation for priority providers or measures?
  • Can the leader drive toward the pre-defined MU financial goal and direct priorities and change to this end?
  • Does the leader work well in a matrix environment and understand how to navigate to the resources required to understand eligibility and other aspects of the MU process?

In my upcoming articles I will explain how two different organizations tackled MU from different starting points, both with successful outcomes. Stay tuned.

About the author – Beth Houck, MBA is the Vice President of Client Services for SA Ignite. She has 17 years of healthcare analytics, operations and sales experience. She has led strategy and business development for Northwestern Memorial Healthcare and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Beth earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.