Meaningful Use FAQs
Since 2009, federal guidelines have required physicians nationwide to gather specific primary information from their patients (including race, primary language, and smoking habits, among other things) and keep that data, as well as all medical information about each patient, in an individual Electronic Health Record, known as an EHR. These same guidelines also require that all health care providers demonstrate Meaningful Use of your records.
Our goal at Saguaro Surgical is to use your personal and medical data to assure we are giving you the highest quality medical care possible. The following are answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about Meaningful Use. Please let us know if you have other questions about your EHR.
What Is Meaningful Use?
Meaningful Use is a national initiative (federal rules and regulations) that defines how physicians use electronic health records (EHRs) in meaningful ways that benefit patients.
How will it benefit me (patient)?
Electronic records give us the ability to quickly access all of your pertinent information and provide you timely and accurate care. Our EHR program, called MyChart, also is able to electronically search for any potential problems or proactive preventive steps that would best serve your good health. Examples include the following:
- Electronic access to all of your information
- Creation of patient-specific education resources
- Reminders for preventive and follow-up care appointments
- Protection from potentially dangerous drug interactions by maintaining active medication lists
- Improved coordination and communication between healthcare providers
What will I need to do?
There are new requirements for asking about race, religion, language and smoking habits during patient registration. These questions are being asked as a result of these 2009 federal guidelines.
What is the Government going to do with my information?
The government believes that Meaningful Use improves healthcare. Data collected will be tracked and used to identify trend in order to provide better healthcare. At this time Saguaro Surgical is only required to provide statistical data (i.e. a collection of blood pressure data, height, weight, etc.) and not individual private records.
What is the difference between race and ethnicity?
Race describes biological descent. Ethnicity describes cultural heritage. Ethnicity is learned; race is inherited.
Why are your questions different from the ones my referring physician asked?
Each physician practice has the option to choose from a menu of questions within the federal guidelines that need to be recorded during patient intake.
Do I have to participate?
No, at this time many of the questions include “choose not to specify” as an option.
How do you ensure my information is kept private?
As always, whether electronic or not, privacy, security, safety, and quality are very important and any questions can be directed to our HIPAA Security & Privacy Officer at 318-3004.
How do I get my patient information?
You have two options:
- Enroll in MyChart to view and/or print, make edits, and access your medical information from a computer with access to the Internet; or
- Contact our Medical Records Department at 318-3004 to assist in making any changes.
What can I do if my patient information is wrong?
Two options first, enroll in myChart to view and/or print, make edits and access your medical information from a computer with access to the internet. Second, contact our Medical Records Department at 318-3004 to assist in making any changes.
Patient privacy and security
At Saguaro Surgical, privacy is still a vital part of each patient’s electronic health records and patient health information continues to be protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Patients maintain the right to request a copy of their health records. However, with EHRs there is an audit trail of who has viewed them, making security and enforcement even tighter than having a paper record.
The government is continuing to develop rules about the privacy and security of personal health information and Saguaro Surgical will continue to follow federal guidelines to make use of our electronic health records an increasingly meaningful tool for our patients’ care.