MU maintains healing properties

A packed house at the Meaningful Use Symposium held March 3 at the 2013 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition couldn't help but inspire awe and possibly conjure a little concern in the hearts of those attending. 

How could an incentive program, issued just a few short years ago, have as many nuances and intricacies as federal tax code? Yet that's what came to mind as extremely adept speaker Robin Raiford, research director on meaningful use for the Advisory Board Company, disseminated rapid-fire information at rapt attendees of her section of the symposium, titled "Meaningful Use Stage 2–Ready or Not, Here it Comes!"

One of her messages was, "don't procrastinate," deadlines are looming. This was closely followed by "talk to your vendors." Don't just assume your vendor is preparing you for compliance with Stage 2, Raiford said. Get the checklists, ask questions, be closely involved, lest you are caught unaware.

To get your organization ready, "get everyone involved," she advises. Have a strategic plan, and amass lessons learned.

She also warns to stay aware of workflow. "You cannot ask clinicians to do some wacky workflow. They won't do it," she said. "Now is the time to ask vendors to fix workflow problems."

When it comes to choosing optional measures for compliance, Raiford recommends choosing those that have the most effect on patients. "It's hard and profound what can happen when you don't have EHRs," she sayid. "I'll go head to head and toe to toe with any doctor who thinks we don't need them."

For Raiford, the meaningful use of EHRs goes beyond a career, or even an obsession (she has license plates that read "EHRs4all"). She shared stories of personal traumas she and her family have experienced because of the lack of efficiently shared electronic medical records. To those frustrated with the meaningful use program, she said, take heart: "We can heal the world and make it a better place." 

To help those lost in the complexities of meaningful use compliance, Raiford has designed a giant poster, called "Meaningful use—the whiteboard story," free for downloading, at The poster compares Stage 2 meaningful use rules to Stage 2 final rule objectives and measures. A free pocket guide is also available on the same web page.