One of the key focus areas of Meaningful Use is engaging patients and families in their own care. In the proposed rule, a couple of the Stage 1 objectives around providing health information access to patients have been consolidated into an umbrella objective viz., View, Download and Transmit personal health information in a secure manner. The push towards greater patient engagement is evident in decisions such as making optional objectives (patient reminders, education resources, etc.) core and increasing thresholds of measures to ensure providers are able to get more and more patients engaged in their own care.
With Stage 2 measures emphasizing greater consumer access to clinical information, there is a potential for far-reaching impact on consumer engagement and self-management towards improving overall health levels of the population. However, for ensuring effective implementation and optimal outcomes, on the one hand, healthcare IT vendors need to ensure that technology makes it easier for providers to engage with patients, and on the flip side, both IT vendors and care providers need to ensure that technology and processes are simple, intuitive and easy for patients to adopt and embrace so that self-management almost becomes a habit.