Meaningful Use Measures: Timely Electronic Access to Health Information – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on July 18, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Meaningful Use Menu Measure: At least 10% of all unique patients seen by the eligible professional (EP) are provided timely (available to the patient within 4 business days) electronic access to their health information.

This is a third meaningful use measure related to providing patients with access to their health information. Meaningful Use Mondays has already addressed the two core measures—clinical summary and electronic copy of health information—“timely access” is a menu measure.

 The requirements are as follows:

  • The measure includes a provision for EPs to claim an exclusion, but I don’t believe that many will qualify for this exclusion. They would have to attest that they “neither order nor create lab tests or information that would be contained in the problem list, medication list, medication allergy list, etc.”—a fact that would make meeting the core meaningful use measures quite unlikely.
  • Access to patient information must be provided online, via a portal or a personal health record (PHR)—in contrast to the other two patient-related, access-to-information measures, which allow the use of various types of electronic media and/or paper.
  • The denominator is “all unique patients seen during the reporting period.” Therefore, in order for that patient to be counted in the numerator, every time any piece of clinical information that can reside in the EHR is added to the patient’s chart, the portal must be updated within 4 days of the EP’s receipt of that information.
  • This measure assesses the availability of timely access. It does not matter—for meaningful use purposes—whether patients request, or ever access, the information.

A challenge associated with this measure is securing patient consent to have clinical information posted on an online portal and then getting a sufficient number of patients to register. Because it is a menu measure, EPs can choose to omit this measure in Stage 1, and it appears—from my conversations with providers and with CMS—that many are planning to do just that!

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.