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Stage 2 and Patient Portals: No Time to Pause

June 3, 2013
by Carl Dolezal, Senior Manager, Aspen Advisors
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Nine steps to take now to engage and empower users

Did you finish the last year attesting for meaningful use Stage 1? If you did, congratulations! You may be thinking you just made it, you’re aware that Stage 2 is waiting for you, and you’re thankful to have preparation time. Before you rest too much, remember that the Stage 2 clock is ticking. It requires that a patient portal be in place and establishes an active role for patients to meet required thresholds.

If you don’t have a patient portal in place, now is the time to develop your patient portal implementation strategy. If you do have a portal in place, now is the time to review your organization’s patient portal strategy and how your patients are using the portal to ensure that you’re on the right path to meeting Stage 2 requirements.

This article describes the need for a patient portal and patient engagement and outlines the top considerations for developing and deploying a successful strategy to engage active users, meet meaningful use requirements, and create value for the organization and patients.

Meaningful Use Patient Access and Engagement Requirements
MU Stage Meaningful Use Program Description
Stage 1 Eligible Professional Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostic test results, problem list, medication lists, and medication allergies) upon request.
The EP who transitions his or her patient to another setting of care or provider of care or refers the patient to another provider of care should provide a summary of care record for each transition of care or referral.
Eligible Hospital Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostic test results, problem list, medication lists, medication allergies, discharge summary, procedures) upon request.
Provide patients with an electronic copy of their discharge instructions at the time of discharge, upon request.
New for Stage 2 Eligible Professional Provide patients with the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available to the EP.
Use secure electronic messaging, to communicate with patients on relevant health information.
Eligible Hospital Provide patients with the ability to view online, download, and transmit information about a hospital admission.
The eligible hospital or CAH that transitions its patient to another setting of care or provider of care or refers the patient to another provider of care supplies a summary of care record for each transition of care or referral.

 

Getting Ready for Stage 2: The Need for a Patient Portal and Patient Engagement

There are multiple meaningful use Stage 1 objectives that either directly require a patient portal or, at the very least, make it challenging to meet requirements without one. For example, a Stage 1 core objective specifies that patients have the ability to request an electronic copy of their health information. While meeting this objective can be done without a patient portal, having one makes it easier for both patients and clinic staff. Another Stage 1 menu objective requires that patients have electronic access to their health information (including lab results, problem lists, medication lists, and allergies). 

Electronic access for patients is further emphasized in Stage 2. One core objective specifies that patients seen by an eligible provider must have the ability to view online, download, and transmit their health information. Perhaps the most challenging of the patient portal-related Stage 2 objectives is a core objective that over five percent of patients seen during the reporting period send a secure message to communicate relevant health information through the use of electronic messaging.

Since the Stage 2 objectives rely on patient activity, patients are a critical component for meeting the objectives. For this reason, Stage 2 not only requires the implementation of a patient portal but also requires an active and engaged patient population.

Key Elements for Patient Portal Enrollment and Engagement Strategies

There are a number of important first steps toward engaging an active patient portal user population. They include the following:

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