Efforts continue to pay off for the health system by completing attestation for Meaningful Use Stage 2
In the Spring of 2014, Penn Highlands DuBois successfully attested for Meaningful Use Stage 2, becoming one of the first organizations, possibly the very first, to successfully complete Stage 2 attestation. This was the second time Penn Highlands was among the early attesters, which was no mistake or happenstance.
“We baked Meaningful Use into our culture,” said Tom Johnson, chief information officer for Penn Highlands Healthcare. “We decided to go all-in on IT and get everybody on board, even on optional and exemptible measures.”
And it’s working.
Initial success came in 2011: DuBois attested early for Meaningful Use Stage 1, posting 98 percent or more on most core measures – 30 percent above the required threshold for some measures.
Efforts continued to pay off when DuBois attested for Stage 2. “When Stage 2 came out we were already 80% there,” explained Johnson. “Because we went for the maximum and did all of the optional measures during Stage 1, we only had two things to focus on: patient portal and HIE.”
To help with its patient portal adoption, DuBois hired a full time LPN. This clinician focused solely on explaining and teaching the benefits of the portal to virtually every DuBois patient. “A designated LPN significantly increased our sign up numbers,” said Johnson. “You need someone specifically educated in the portal.”
Johnson said DuBois’ most challenging Stage 2 requirement was the health information exchange (HIE). Dubois’s regional counterparts weren’t ready for HIE, so Johnson and team looked for an alternative to meet the CMS requirement. In the end, DuBois implement its own HIE portal, essentially building an HIE platform for outside organizations to receive patient information.
“We worked with the Cerner regulatory team to truly understand the requirements, what the restrictions were and what models we could use,” recalls Kelly Grube, director of management information systems at DuBois. “And Cerner helped us find a way to make it happen.”
“Meaningful Use transformed our organization,” Johnson testifies. “It achieved the goal of creating something meaningful.”
And with the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) indicating it will continue pushing interoperability in Stage 3, Penn Highlands’ decision to meet all Meaningful Use requirements for each stage looks like it will pay off again.