Healthcare “Meaningful Use” Regulation Changes and Cloud Computing

Meaningful use

Meaningful use rulings will have great impact on how cloud computing works with healthcare

According to Erin McCann, Associate Editor of Healthcare IT News, “Meaningful use will bring about the most significant improvements in the health information technology arena, say health IT executives, who are working tirelessly to meet industry deadlines. However, a new survey finds it’s still a trying task, with officials citing regulation ambiguity and competing IT projects as the biggest barriers to moving forward with MU.”

This was from a survey conducted by the Stoltenberg Consulting firm.  The results include insights from HIT management, physicians, clinicians, government agencies and HIT vendors who attended the 2013 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

Survey respondents also identified the three greatest challenges in fulfilling meaningful use requirements in their organizations as:

  • Confusion and/or ambiguity about the regulation itself (29 percent);
  • Competing health IT projects (23 percent);
  • Lack of resources such as funding, IT skill, talent and time (17 percent)

Core to this issue is the emerging use of cloud computing, along with the need to merge MU regulation.  So, many healthcare organizations are struggling to determine how this new technology meshes with this new regulation.

There are a few areas of MU where cloud computing is a huge help, including:

  • The ability to manage and externalize patient data in secure and meaningful ways, such as leveraging cloud computing to build, deploy, and operate patient and physician portals.
  • The ability to support patient data analytics, including use of predictive analytics in healthcare to assist in better diagnostics and preventative care.
  • The ability to externalize data to mobile devices.
  • The easier ability to exchange health data, and at a lower cost.

As outline in the survey, many of those in health care IT who are building cloud-based solutions, find that the emerging regulations don’t provide enough detail to nail down exactly what IT systems must do to be compliant.  This includes the use of cloud computing.

The best approach is one of erring on the side of caution.  This means moving beyond the specifics of the regulation in terms of compliance.  This includes leveraging a cloud computing or hosting provider that understands the requirements of the regulation, and can assist you within initial compliance and help to remain compliant.

As MU becomes more systemic to health care, health care IT should proactively address the requirements of this regulation.  This includes putting together the plans now for changes to existing systems, and building and deploying new systems.

The use of cloud-based resources will make this work go much faster, and at a lower cost.  The secret will be thinking ahead of the need.

Thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @CloudGathering.

By David Linthicum

One thought on “Healthcare “Meaningful Use” Regulation Changes and Cloud Computing

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