As of February 24, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) are launching stage two of the proposed sequence of plans for the optimization of the healthcare industry. In recent years, the infrastructure of the healthcare industry has been radically revamped to allow for integration, interoperability, and financial benefits. Each electronic network of patient information can now be synchronized with larger pools of information for better record keeping, accurate analysis, and internal protocols that assist quality patient care.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is a legislation that created healthcare IT programs to improve quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare through the implementation of health information technology (HIT) networks. The federal legislations require healthcare institutions such as hospitals and doctor’s offices to transition between paper and electronic record keeping methods for many purposes. While experience has been the best teacher in this transitioning stage, stage two of meaningful use technology has already started.

Stage 1 of meaningful use structures created the blueprint for electronic medical records while phase two takes it a little further. While the first transition began in early 2011, phase two of electronic medical record technologies is expected to take off in 2014. There are many added rewards associated with entering the second stage of meaningful use technologies to improve quality care measures and patient outcomes.

Privacy and Efficiency: Meaningful use programs have strict security measures that ensure Protected Health Information is accessed by the provider and support staff only. High-quality security features are deeply engrained in every electronic medical record technology to encrypt sensitive information while providing the means to view complete records. The features of these programs are also aimed at viewing and interpreting medical and non-medical patient data at top speeds to decrease patient wait times.

Data Synthesis: Electronic medical records organize complete patient records in one place so that providers can focus on what is most important – quality patient care. With the implementation and standardization created by health information exchange networks, advisory committees can view data to create proper protocols that influence medical care and coverage.

Quality Protocols: Stage 2 of meaningful use technologies will further the use of HIE technologies to synchronize patient, providers, third parties, and even healthcare organizations for the betterment of medical practice. Quality protocols regulate the amount of information accessed as well as quick communication between departments, healthcare facilities, and even insurance companies to ensure the best patient care services.

By now, medical facilities are very familiar with the guidelines of this new wave of healthcare IT programs that have changed the way professionals communicate. One of the added benefits associated with meaningful use programs is the degree of patient responses. Patients will be able to log into patient portals to view their records while also analyzing pertinent information regarding their medical or financial state.

Stage 2 will increase the quality of medical care and coverage for both the patient and the provider. Reimbursement models award outcomes and integration of medical technologies with opportunities for eligible institutions to earn at least $44,000 for creating internal EMR protocols and guidelines. As more medical facilities make the transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the implemented healthcare IT infrastructure, medical care will become more personal, individual, and concise with each patient seen.