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Future stages of meaningful use may bring significant gains in quality, study finds

by Jeremy Duca, Corporate Communication Specialist

While stage 1 of the meaningful use rules for the government’s EHR incentives program may be effective at getting a majority of providers to adopt electronic systems, real gains in quality may not be seen until stages 2 and 3 are implemented, according to a new study.

The most important part of the meaningful use guidelines, the researchers reported, is the requirement for providers to use EHR systems for certain percentages of their patients. Under stage 1, practices will only need to use EHRs for 30 percent of their patients. However, that number goes up to 60 percent and 80 percent under stages 2 and 3, respectively. 

The researchers wrote in the journal Health Affairs that these higher percentages of patients being treated with EHRs will be needed before any significant gains in quality will be seen. They said their findings bode well for the future success of the meaningful use incentive program.

“Our study may reassure policy makers and other stakeholders that high levels of use of computerized provider order entry and other health information technology have value and may yield tangible health benefits for patients,” the researchers told Healthcare IT News.  

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