Meaningful….Shmeaningful

Today I was taught how to use our hospital’s electronic medical record “meaningfully”.  This is interesting since I have been using electronic medical records (EMR) for 6 years now at multiple facilities for doing my patient’s notes, placing orders, writing scripts, and giving discharge instructions.  But now I have to use it meaningfully.  This all stems from the stimulus packaged and the Feds trying to get everyone to adopt electronic records.  Our hospital got multiple millions of dollars from this.  One of the big requirements for us to get the money is to do “meaningful use” with our EMR.  Is the money to help us further our meaningful use?  No.  Instead “meaningful use” is the hurdle we must jump and keep on jumping so we can get the money to spend on projects not related to EMR.  It is like your mom telling you to go jump over a fence so you can get your dinner.  Does jumping over the fence having anything really to do with getting dinner? No, it is just  a random unrelated hurdle imposed by an authority figure.  Meaningful use does the same thing.  The definition of “meaningful use” was set by CMS and is very nebulous.  On a side note, nebulous is my word of the day.  I seem to be using it everywhere today and I do not know why.  Ok back on track.. To meet the requirement for meaningful use, I have to click 4 buttons.  One to say I reviewed and “reconciled” a patient’s medications, one for allergies, another for their past medical history, and one to say I gave the patient a piece of paper listing the medications the patient just listed for me.  On the surface, this is great.  I should be looking at all this.  The funny part is – I have always done this and so has almost every other provider who does their job well.  But now I have to make sure I click these buttons to say I did something that I already said I did in my note.  And if I don’t we do not get the money and then could be punished.  Again this is just another example of a useless requirement that has never been shown to improve patient care and I doubt ever will.  But it does justify someone’s job and another government agency’s existence.