Challenges specialty practices face with MU stage 3

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced that stage 3 of the meaningful use program will be published. Since 2009, the organization has been working toward streamlining and advancing electronic health records with help from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Meaningful use incentives have funneled billions of dollars into the advancement of health IT in the U.S., and in many ways, brought the U.S. health care system into the 21st century. However, there are certain challenges that specialists will need to be aware of, especially since stage 3 will deal with a lot of these pain points in particular.

If you need some guidance on how stage 3 will affect your specialty practice, read below:

"Stage 3 will deal with many specialist pain points."

1. Stage 3 is taking it up a notch: All providers will need to be efficient while implementing stage 3 guidelines, as the timelines for implementation have become more aggressive. By 2018, all providers will need to demonstrate stage 3, regardless of what stage they are currently in. Considering the extra nuances that specialists must tackle in their medical software, now is the time to begin looking to complete these measures.

2. More flexibility: One of the biggest complaints with stages 1 and 2 is that the program is too broad and doesn't cater to specifics needed in specialty practices. There are signs that the CMS has taken some action on this. According to Medical Practice Insider, the CMS could lower or possibly eliminate some measures "that are duplicative, redundant or unnecessary" for specialists.

3. Issues with reporting: Another problem cited with stages 1 and 2 was frustrations with reporting. The CMS is showing signs that it will become more flexible with this, as it seeks to eliminate the previous 90-day reporting period. It is also offering more holistic integration with clinical data registries and integrated health exchanges so that specialists can get a better handle on reporting measures. 

4. A switch from 'big box' EHRs: Medical Practice Insider also pointed out that solutions in stage 3 are more specific and tailored, which can give specialty practices the tools they need to advance analytics and ensure care quality. Because patient needs are incredibly varied in a specialty practice, moving toward EHR templates for certain conditions is an excellent way to meet these stage 3 guidelines.

5. Specialty practices can look to vendors for help: Stage 3 has also widened the path for specialized EHR vendors to help practices meet the demands of stage 3. According to HIT Consultant, some of the "clinical burden" of administrative work can now be funneled to your technology vendor. In the past, specialists had a particularly hard time with clinical decision support and other administrative issues. However, with Intelligent Medical Software (IMS), providers can worry less about meeting interoperability standards or future development, because all these requirements are already built into the platform. 

With stage 3 inching closer on the calendar, now is the time for specialists to get the support they need from IMS. Not only will it ease reporting worries, but it will also free up more face-to-face time with your patients. 

Guidelines for EPCS

There have been several health IT advancements in the past five years that have become more popular thanks to Intelligent Medical Software (IMS), and electronic prescribing is one of them. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, doctors in nearly all U.S. states can now prescribe medications to their patients online.

"Prescription painkiller overdose is 'a growing epidemic.'"

As beneficial as this is for both providers and patients, there are issues regarding dispensing that need to be addressed when it comes to controlled substances. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkiller overdose has become "a growing epidemic" in the U.S. This is why, in 2010, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency created a new rule, Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances.

Why the EPCS rule matters
The ONC states that the need for this rule came after 2009 when the Medicare Prescription Drug Program paid $25 million for Schedule II drugs that were billed as refills. This was a red flag to the U.S. government, as Medicare was not supposed to pay for refills of these drugs. Ever since, drug monitoring platforms like the EPCS have been put into place to track eprescribing and hopefully reduce the rate of prescription drug addiction and overdose in the U.S. 

There are some guidelines that medical software users will want to be aware of. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Not only does the DEA's rule allow practitioners to write prescriptions electronically, but it also lets pharmacies to dispense, receive and archive eprescriptions.
  • It is up to the provider whether or not they want to use implement eprescribing into the workflow – there are no federal mandates that require practices to do so.
  • If doctors choose to use eprescribing capabilities through medical software, they are subject to independent, third-party audits. Vendors are obligated to be compliant with the rule and expected to show documentation of such compliance. Each benchmark is reviewed and assessed in the audit in regards to DEA regulations.

Having this kind of technology certainly has its perks for busy practices, and both patients and providers enjoy the ability to dispense and receive prescriptions online. Although providers are not required to partipate in eprescribing, it is becoming much more prevalent in modern practices, especially since doctors are relying heavily on mobile devices for professional purposes. However, given the rate of prescription drug abuse in the U.S., these requirements must be met in order to make sure that patients are using these drugs in a healthy way.

Meditab has ensured that IMS is EPCS- and Surescripts-certified and follows all of the regulations mandated by the DEA. Not only are these interactions secure with digital signatures, audit-ready logs and identity proofing through the IMS ClientConnect portal, but they are also integrated easily into the software. This allows practices to streamline their eprescribing solutions and make sure that they are writing prescriptions in a safe, compliant manner.