Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Impact of Meaningful Use Phase 2 on Healthcare IT

For starters, what exactly does meaningful use mean? Meaningful use is the set of standards defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs that governs the use of electronic health records (EHRs). This kind of governance is made possible by The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HITECH Act provides the Department of Health & Human Services with the authority to establish programs that improve healthcare quality, safety, and efficiency with changes to health IT.

One such program currently being established by the Department of Health & Human Services is the Meaningful Use Program. Having already made changes in accordance with Meaningful Use Phase 1, there are several new criteria requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 2 that will result in either practice changes or IT infrastructure changes for many healthcare organizations. Many of these requirements deal with structured data.  For example, demographics must now be recorded as structured data, clinical lab test results must be incorporated into EHR as structured data, and permissible prescriptions must be generated and transmitted electronically as structured data. 

Placing an emphasis on empowering patients, Meaningful Use Stage 2 will require health organizations to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information upon request, as well as providing patients with electronic access to their health information within 4 business days after the healthcare provider receives it. These specific requirements result in a change of IT infrastructure because of provisions such as 45 CFR 164.312 (a)(2)(iv) and 45 CFR 164.306(d)(3), which require data at rest to be encrypted and secured.

Patient portals, PHRs, or other stand-alone secure messaging applications are defined as the type of data that health care providers need to encrypt for secure messaging. Luckily, IBM offers a product that can help meet Meaningful Use Phase 2 demands. 

The IBM System Storage DS3500 addresses data-at-rest encryption requirements by offering continuous data security through 300GB and 600GB Self Encrypting Drives (SEDs). The SEDs provide the IBM DS3500 with full drive-level encryption that can be easily managed through the DS Storage Manager.  As a result, IBM Total Storage DS3500 systems can also provide the data-at-rest encryption required by Meaningful Phase 2. 

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