The Meaningful Use of Your Personal Health Information

Electronic Medical Records (known as EMRs in the medical industry) are a convenient way to store information about patients. They're portable, req…

‘Meaningful use’ refers to how a person’s electronically-stored personal health information must be used by healthcare providers to benefit the patient. One part of the federal government’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act codified the meaningful use of electronic medical records (EMRs). And while EMRs have proven to offer some great advantages for companies and providers looking to quickly share (and easily store) information, the legislation aims to make sure that EMRs provide a health advantage to the patient.

That’s right – the creation of an electronic medical record should have tangible health benefits for the patient – and not just make it easier for companies, doctors and hospitals to share a person’s personal health information.

Here’s what meaningful use will mean for patients:

–  Doctors will have better tools to help them diagnose and treat patients

Online clinical support tools will interact with your records to remind doctors or medical personnel of any drug contraindications or recommended health screenings a patient might need. Such tools could remind a doctor, for example, that a 36-year-old female should have a mammogram earlier than would be typical due to her family medical history.

– Faster, More Accurate Care

Because they are stored electronically, EMRs can be made available to authorized users almost instantaneously. If a person is injured in a car accident, their medical records would be available to emergency personnel on the way to the hospital. Blood type, drug or other of this information would be available to everyone in the emergency care process as they need it, improving the patient’s healthcare outcome and reducing the risk of harm to the patient along the way.

The U.S rnment is investing heavily in EMRs, with incentive programs for medical providers who adopt and implement the technologies. The government incentives are based on medical providers achieving specific goals, with the patient’s health at the top of the list.

The future offers even more benefits. As EMRs become widespread, patients will have access to their medical records, and will be able to make sure those records are complete and accurate. Over the next ten years, the U.S. government will invest up to $27 billion to support the widespread adoption of electronic medical records. Through the Act’s meaningful use clause, patients can expect that the changes taking place will provide more accurate and timely care.

With meaningful use, healthcare providers are required to use the benefits of technology to improve patient care, not just healthcare industry processes – a win/win for everyone.