Estimated Effort to Exhibit Meaningful Use

There is quite a bit of buzz in the healthcare IT community surrounding the ONCHIT/CMS release of the Meaningful Use Interim Final Rule and the  and the EHR certification requirements. The author of HISTalk kindly spent his New Year’s Eve poring over the documents to provide an excel worksheet summary of the actual criteria and thresholds and the author of the Medical Software Advice blog did a great job of outlining definition, features and measurement with his blog entry.  I thought I would take it a step further and provide some meaningful information to CFOs and PMs by taking a stab at quantifying the effort involved with each measure. First some background information and disclaimers:

  • This estimated effort is based on 50 physician multi-specialty organization.
  • It is intended to give a ballpark of effort involved and the numbers serve as estimates only.
  • It does not necessarily scale linearly with number of providers or specialties.
  • The effort only addresses four categories of effort – implementation, technical, interface and training.
  • Categories of effort not addressed include project management, systems configuration and deployment, networking configuration and deployment, hardware (including desktop) deployment, and helpdesk and on-going support.

The meaningful use matrix with effort broken-out can be found on the Galen Healthcare Solutions Wiki.

Now that we have presented the effort involved, let’s delve into how EHR deployments – specifically  AE-EHR deployements – are typically phased:

Phase I: Base, Document, Scan and Dictate

Description: Provide a baseline level of EHR functionality to all users. Real-time access to physician schedules, transcribed and scanned documents, facilitation of dictation.  Data conversions, Scanned charts and documents, Base Deployment. This approach typically appeals to all providers regardless of technical aptitude and would not require significant workflow changes

Advantages: Clinical information access internal and external to the clinic, reduced level of change for physicians through the use of dictate, realized benefits of decreased errors and re-work.


  • Registration & Scheduling
    • Real-time inbound registration and scheduling feed from practice management system.
    • Initial bulk-load of existing active patients and appointments
  • Transcription
    • Real-time inbound transcription interface from transcription system.

*Phase II: Rx+, Note, Forms, Results

Description: Add medication management, structured note and results

Advantages: Ability to collect structured information facilitating use of panel queries. Additionally, formulary compliance, and prescription faxing/e-prescribing to pharmacies and ability to capture results as discrete data elements


  • Results
    • Real-time inbound results interface from lab system.

*Phase III: Order, Charge

Description: Facilitates charge capture and order transmission.

Advantages: Completes the access to centralized patient data and further enhances the quality of care and service to patients.


  • Orders
    • Real-time outbound order interface to lab system
  • Charge
    • Real-time outbound charge interface to the practice management system.

*Phase II and III can be combined based upon the organization requirements

In conclusion, one of the biggest questions that lingers for me is how the data is to be relayed to the government such that organizations can be evaluated as to whether or not they meet the thresholds to receive the incentives. Custom reporting comes to mind as precedent has been set here, specifically with PQRI and Medicare HCC. Galen Healthcare Solutions certainly can provide custom reporting specific to organizations needs in order to communicate meaningful use. Another solution is Allscripts Clinical Quality Solution powered by TeamPraxis. In the meantime, we wait for the rule to be finalized and anticipate announcement of how the meaningful use data is to be relayed.

If your organization is looking for assistance in exhibiting meaningful use, please contact and visit our website for more information regarding our technical and professional service offerings.

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  1. 1
    Chris Thorman


    Nice work quantifying the effort. I haven’t seen anyone else try to do that in the blogosphere and it’s certainly and important point to make. I feel like the ONC and CMS glazed over just how difficult some of this implementation is going to be in the context of their new rules.

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