Everyone was expecting the new meaningful use rules to include some important, but relatively basic advances for the consumer—and it did. However few of us expected meaningful use would include a real consumer gift: the requirement that EMRs help doctors deliver information prescriptions to each patient. That addition is a game changer for advancing the patient’s role in a patient-centered health care system.
Page 225 of the rules includes this Stage I Measure for demonstrating the “meaningful use” needed to qualify for the federal subsidy for EMR investments:
More than 10% of all unique patients seen by the provider are provided patient-specific education resources.
That simple requirement represents a sea-change in use of the EMR as a tool to advance the role of the patient. It will bring into mainstream American medicine a recognition that medical care is of high quality only if it includes relevant information to help the patient do appropriate self-care and better participate in treatment decisions.
The requirement gives mainstream life to the decade-old concept called “information therapy” or Ix for short. Ix promotes the need to prescribe the right information to the right patient at the right time as part of the process of care. The new rule promotes the exact same thing.
While Ix may be the greatest consumer “win” in the new rules, it is accompanied by at least ten others. Here is a quick listing:
- You can now see your own health care records.
- You will now get reminders for preventive services (just like most vets send to your pets)
- Your doctors will now better share with each other the information they know about you. (That will help you avoid paying double for duplicative testing.)
- Your doctors will now be less likely to make a mistake in prescribing your drugs.
- Your records will follow you when you leave one doctor or hospital for another.
- You will be better able to tell if your doctor or hospital is above or below average for quality.
- The privacy of your health records will be better protected.
- Your advance directive will be more likely to be respected.
- Your doctor’s poor handwriting will be much less of a risk to your health.
- Your costs should be lower. (Still an arm and a leg, but at least a little lower)
All of this adds up to a big movement toward “patient-centered” care in the true sense of the word. It is a gift for the consumer—and makes this July seem like a part of the holiday season, for sure.
As chairman and CEO of Healthwise Mr. Kemper is a passionate advocate for raising the quality of patient engagement in health care. By prescribing prevention, self-management, and decision-support tools relevant to each patient’s needs, clinicians can engage and motivate their patients to become active partners in their health and wellness.Mr. Kemper co-authored Information Therapy: Prescribed Information as a Reimbursable Medical Service with Molly Mettler. The Ix book lays out both the concept and the practical details of how information prescriptions will become a core and expected part of health care. More information can be found at Healthwise.