Mental Health News Radio

Behavioral Health Meaningful Use: Just Who Is THE Expert?

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Last month we welcomed Dr. Frederick DuFour to the everythingEHR team.  We are proud to share his knowledge and expertise with our providers and the Behavioral Health EHR vendors we support.

Dr. DuFour will be hosting a series of Webinars for The Samaritan Institute, our supported EHR vendors, and everythingEHR on Meaningful Use and the specific and unique constraints on Behavioral Health providers.

Implementing Meaningful Use for Behavioral Health

Frederick DuFour, PhD

“As Executive Director of a Family Services non-for-profit, I was presented with the challenge of paying for an EHR system. We started our Mental Health Clinic in 2007 utilizing paper charts for our mental health records. The following year, after very careful consideration we purchased a Mental Health specific EHR.  In 2013, we applied for and received our first incentive check for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) government reimbursement (HITECH Act).  Upgrading to the newest version of our EHR so that we can continue in the process of meeting the 2014 criteria for Meaningful Use Stage 2 was imperative.  The Meaningful Use Program has helped defray some of the costs of my agency’s EHR System.”

MeaninfulUseBehavioralHealthSnapshot of the Meaningful Use Program

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide financial incentives to eligible professionals and hospitals that demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology.

Your Mental Health agency or Behavioral Health hospital will be considered a meaningful EHR user during an EHR reporting period in a payment year if you use certified EHR technology to capture, exchange and report specific information.

The term Meaningful Use is a fairly new health care term that many healthcare professionals don’t understand. The term “Meaningful Use” basically represents the accepted practices for providers to demonstrate they are using certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology in ways that can be measured significantly in quality and quantity.

In support of the nationwide effort to adopt Electronic Health Record technology, Medicare and Medicaid are offering incentive programs to any eligible health care entity (professionals, agencies, and hospitals) who adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate Meaningful Use of certified EHR technology.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) specifies three main components of Meaningful Use:

  1. The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.
  2. The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care.
  3. The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures.

To qualify for incentive payments, Meaningful Use requirements must be met in the following ways:

Medicare EHR Incentive Program – Eligible professionals, eligible agencies and hospitals must successfully demonstrate Meaningful Use of certified electronic health record technology every year they participate in the program. 

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program – Eligible  agencies, professionals and eligible hospitals may qualify for incentive payments if they Adopt, Implement, Upgrade or demonstrate Meaningful Use in their first year of participation. They must successfully demonstrate Meaningful Use for subsequent participation years.

Elements for Consideration:

Adopted: Acquired and installed certified EHR technology (For example, can show evidence of installation).

Implemented: Began using certified EHR technology (For example, provide staff training or data entry of patient demographic information into EHR).

Upgraded: Expanded existing technology to meet certification requirements (For example, upgrade to certified EHR technology or add new functionality to meet the definition of certified EHR technology).

Thoughts for Implementing Meaningful Use:

  1. Appoint a Task Master – Designate a staff member who can oversee the implementation. Someone who is skilled at details and making deadlines.
  2. Communications – Make sure that the tasks and requirements of the Meaningful Use implementation are communicated to all pertinent staff on a regular basis.
  3. Engage The Medical Staff Early On – The cooperation of the Medical staff will be crucial to the successful implementation of Meaningful Use.  

Dr. DuFour has been instrumental in helping Behavioral Health organizations prepare and attest for Meaningful Use. Please email us if you have any questions or would like a consultation.

Please visit us here for more information about Dr. DuFour.

Important websites for Meaningful Use as it relates to Behavioral Health:

HealthInfoNet and download their comprehensive guide here.




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