Most Wired: TMC Earns Government Incentive for ‘Meaningful Use’ Milestone

 Last week, TMC attested to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that it has met Stage 1 meaningful use requirements for implementation of its electronic medical record, known internally as OneChart. As a result, the hospital expects to receive $4.3 million this year.

While the government funds are appreciated, the main intent of implementing the electronic medical record (EMR) is to enhance care for patients.

“Our goal is to use this tool to produce better outcomes,” said Linda Wojtowicz, TMC senior vice president and chief operations officer. “We expect to achieve meaningful use and meet the federal regulations, but paramount is improving quality and ensuring the safety of our patients.”

In 2008, the TMC Board of Trustees approved a $28 million plan to implement a fully electronic medical record — well before any federal stimulus package offered financial incentives for hospitals and doctors to transition to paperless systems.

“For Stage 1, the challenges have been putting the plumbing into place,” said Frank Marini, TMC vice president and chief information officer. TMC will be in this first phase through Sept. 30, 2013, and then go to Stage 2, which will require the hospital to achieve certain levels of results.

In Stage 1, for example, eligible hospitals need to have a certified EMR in place that can maintain an active problem list. In Stage 2, however, a certain percentage of all patients will need to have an active problem list. Ideally, that level is 100 percent, but sometimes, such as when a mom is having a normal delivery, there is no “problem” to add to the list.

“Much of the Stage 2 challenge is cultural,” Marini said, explaining that staff might need to put information in a dedicated field, for example, rather than type a note in a comment box. In the specific field it can be electronically accessed, measured and analyzed, while in a comment box it won’t get counted.

The federal government is still developing the final rules on Stage 2, so thresholds have not been set. Those final rules are due out in the fall.

This is not the first stimulus money the hospital has received. Last year, TMC completed Stage 1 requirements under Medicaid (AHCCCS in Arizona) and received $2.4 million.

Because TMC fully intends to meet all the requirements of the act, it aims to collect a total of $12.5 million in incentive payments by Sept. 30, 2015, the end of the federal fiscal year.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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