85% of Medicare Meaningful Use Early Adopters Attested from 2011-2013

The latest estimates from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services show that 85% of Meaningful Use early adopters attested successfully for the third consecutive year.

Last year, 224,000 total eligible professionals attested. Below is a breakdown of that number:

  • 63,000 first-year attesters
  • 114,000 second-year attesters
  • 47,000 third-year attesters

However the majority of eligible providers have attested to stage 1 only, with a limited number moving on to stage 2 adoption. Providers are not worried because while stage 2 is off to a slow start, they are optimistic that it will pick up.

Some other statistics show:

  • 94% of eligible hospitals have registered for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs
  • 90% of hospitals have been paid through the program
  • 56% of professionals are registered for Medicare
  • 28% of professionals are registered for Medicaid
  • 15% of professionals have not registered for either

In February, 9,387 providers registered for the EHR incentive program, for a total of 458,137 eligible providers who are registered.

That number broken down is:

  • 302,244 Medicare eligible professionals
  • 151,182 Medicaid eligible professionals
  • 4,711 eligible hospitals

For more information on these results see the article published by Heath Data Management here- http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/Medicare-Meaningful-Use-Early-Adopters-Attested-47834-1.html


Interoperability Could Save $30 Billion Nationally

According to the latest white paper released by Gary & Mary West Health Institute and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, greater interoperability of mobile medical devices not only allows for better communication, but has the potential to save the nation more than $30 billion a year in wasteful healthcare spending.

Greater medical device interoperability will lead to increased efficiency, improved quality, and more affordable care. Commonly adopted standards can accelerate the move toward greater medical device interoperability and potentially reduce the cost of achieving it.

The paper also highlights that while mobile interoperability is being quickly adopted, some healthcare professionals are treading lightly. They claim there is still work to be done to bring the newly developed mobile health IT to mainstream usage and understand its vast benefits on a larger scale.

The goal of the ONC is to make the technology patient-centered, allowing a patient’s health information to be accessible to them wherever they get their care. The main objective is to help improve patient care and health at lower costs.

For more information on interoperability and mobile health IT, follow the link to an article published by Health IT Outcomes- http://www.healthitoutcomes.com/doc/interoperability-could-save-billion-nationally-0001


Patient Engagement Crucial for Healthcare IT Success

The success and expansion of healthcare IT is dependent on patient engagement. However the question many providers have is how to assure that patients are comfortable using the technology and will implement it as part of their daily lives. Stage 2 meaningful use mandates that 5% of patients view, download, and transmit their own health data via EHRs, but apart from that, providers are still responsible for getting patients to get involved organically.

The upcoming Healthcare Business Intelligence Forum in Washington will provide a platform for experts in the industry to discuss ways in which to communicate better with patients on the benefits of healthcare IT, so they are more receptive to it. Physicians and patients must work in tandem for effective engagement to work.

The current state of patient engagement is still in the early phases. Physicians are concerned with presenting healthcare IT in an appealing way so patients acknowledge it, understand its benefits, and are enrolled in the system.

Some studies have found that the patients with the best reaction to healthcare IT are the ones that are an active part of the team, who are interested in learning about it, not just bystanders. The patients that feel heard when they express their concerns, goals, and expectations have the most positive outlook on the success of healthcare IT.

Patients are no longer bystanders, they are being proactive about their healthcare and the intersection of new models of care, with an emphasis on keeping people healthy, and population health strategies, are really adding a dimension of urgency to patient engagement efforts.

For more information on patient engagement, click the following link for the full article published by Healthcare IT News- http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/smart-data-key-patient-engagement?single-page=true

Meeting Requirements for Meaningful Use: Timing is Key

During Stage 2 of EHR adoption and implementation, providers will focus more on filling in the gaps with the information used in Stage 1 rather than working on improvements, which is a process that will happen in a later stage. In addition, Stage 2 of the incentive program will center on patient engagement.

According to Fred Trotter, COO of Open Source Health Corporation, the practices that are keeping up with Stage 2 are doing very well and are experiencing positive results. However he says that smaller practices that are waiting to hear results before deciding to commit to the conversion have perhaps already waited too long. They are not giving themselves enough time to adapt to Meaningful Use and work out the kinks, so by the time Stage 3 comes into play they will face an uphill climb with difficult constraints.

The goal is for healthcare providers to implement EHRs and Meaningful Use now so their staff and patients feel comfortable with it before the next stages come into play.

You can read more at Physicians Practice online and visit http://www.meditab.com/company/ehr-meaningful-use/ for more resources on achieving Meaningful Use.

Strategies to Engage Patients

In a quest to meet Meaningful Use mandates to be accessible to more patients, healthcare providers have sometimes had to sacrifice patient attention. Communication is a critical component of engagement, whether during a visit to a healthcare provider or during a hospital stay. There are many ways to engage patients that can improve their health and at the same time help your medical establishment run more smoothly – a recent article on InformationWeek outlined some including the following:

1. Help families with elders – Online portals, like those provided by Meditab at Big Sandy in Kentucky, allow family members to stay engaged with elder relatives’ care, allowing them to review healthcare materials on chronic conditions and illnesses

2. Empower the mentally ill – Personal health records could provide a relatively low-cost scalable strategy for improving medical care for patients with comorbid medical and serious mental illnesses

3. Offer telemedicine – Offering telehealth services can greatly reduce patient expenses

4. Message patients – Speak to patients the way you know they can be reached – via text. Patients are more responsive to text messaging because of its convenience and immediacy

5. Reduce readmissions – Telehealth services have been reported to reduce readmissions by 44% and helps build better relationships between patients and professionals

6. Nurture nurse communication – Installing a system like HCAHPS has been proven to improve nurse communications and therefore patient care

7. Remind about meds – Medication non-adherence is the leading cause of preventable morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. A voice reminder for patients to take medication can help remind patients to take their recommended doses

8. Offer beside tablets – Tablets help patients order ice chips, test results, and offer more information about their condition. They also have access to the internet so they can stay connected to work and their family members

9. Offer discounts – Programs like Coupons on Demand offer cost-saving offers and adherence-support materials to patients. Access is available via the web and mobile devices, and brands can choose which healthcare professionals they want to reach

10. Create a positive workplace – Happy healthcare employees take better care of patients, resulting in healthier and happier consumers

Your Practice Might be Audited Next – How to Prepare

Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has shelled out about $19 million of their $27 million budget in just three months, physicians should assume that they will be audited and make preparations so they are not caught off guard and the audit goes as smoothly as possible.

Audits have been occurring frequently across the country, so in order to prepare physicians should follow these seven strategies:

  1. Assume you will be audited - Make sure your office retains all documents auditors will ask for so you meet the specific requirements and have a solid foundation for responding to the audit.
  2. Handle the audit promptly - Complying with an audit means you will have to complete a long list of tasks to prove every transaction, which can be tedious, but it is crucial that you do not lash out at the auditor and respond to the audit request in 14 days or less.
  3. Physicians take charge - While you might want your practice manager to take control of the audit, make sure you, as the physician, are involved and know what is going on so nothing slips through the cracks. It is your business that is on the line.
  4. Avoid discrepancies - The main thing auditors look for are discrepancies between what was submitted during the attestation process and what was actually done. The audit will request a document list so make sure you provide all the documents needed and in a timely manner.
  5. Ensure EHR certification - Make sure you have certification from your vendors confirming the version of EHR system  you are using and if your system is upgraded that your certification didn’t change and if it did that you also upgrade that.
  6. Documentation - Above all, it is critical you have an auditable source for all data used for registering and attesting to meaningful use. This not only includes the data presented on the meaningful use reports generated by the EHR, but evidence of all ‘yes/no’ objectives.
  7. Complete a Security Risk Assessment - This is an area that trips up many physicians because even though it became mandatory for physician practices to implement HIPPA, it is something many are still unfamiliar with. Neglecting the risk assessment can not only place physicians at risk of paying back incentive money, but they also risk a penalty from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office for Civil Rights

For more information on these strategies see the following article, published by Medical Economics – http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/meaningful-use-audits-seven-strategies-protect-your-practice?page=0,6&contextCategoryId=146

IMS Certified for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use

We are pleased to announce that after participating in a rigorous testing process, IMS (Intelligent Medical Software) has been certified for Stage 2 Meaningful Use.

The three key requirements of Stage 2 are:

• Longer reporting periods with more data collection
• Patient engagement in their own healthcare
• The creation of health information exchanges (HIEs)

Through a partnership with Surescripts, IMS users will be a part of the National Health information Network that will help contribute to reducing the cost, and improving the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare across the country.

The IMS EHR system combines a patient portal, clinical charting, e-prescribing, population management, decision support, practice analytics, document imaging and much more, on one robust database platform.

For more information on how Meditab Software helps its clients with meeting Meaningful Use requirements, visit http://www.meditab.com/company/ehr-meaningful-use/.

Stage 3 of Meaningful Use to Focus on Patient Safety and Quality

A recent article published on EHRIntelligence.com focused on the Health IT Policy Committee’s newest draft recommendations for Stage 3 of EHR Meaningful Use. The suggestions center around quality, patient safety, and timely interventions through population health management and clinical decision support. It’s hoped that these suggestions for the eight objectives will lead to a transition from using EHRs for data entry to using comprehensive health IT infrastructure to provide patient-centered care with an emphasis on engagement, care coordination, and safety. The suggestions for the objectives include the following:

• Clinical decision support (CDS)
Stage 3 would expand the scope of clinical decision support to include newly recommended areas targeted for intervention.

• Care planning
Care planning will be a core measure for eligible hospitals and a menu measure for eligible professionals. Providers meeting this measure will be required to ensure that patients older than 65 have an advance directive recorded in the EHR.

• Electronic medication administration record
Hospitals will need to be able to automatically track medications from order to administration as a core measure in Stage 3

• Imaging in the EHR
Another potential menu item for EPs and core measure for hospitals is the capability to access images directly within the EHR in order to streamline the radiology process and reduce accidental duplication of lost test results.

• Clarifications to progress notes
Certified EHRs will be required to clarify the origin of every entry.

• Order tracking
This new menu objective for EPs will require providers to assist with follow-up on orders to improve the management and coordination of results.

• Unique device identifier (UDI)
As a new menu item for both hospitals and providers, organizations will be asked to record the UDI for all implantable devices in order to better track patient safety, product recalls, adverse events, and complications.

• Medication adherence
EHR products may be required to allow providers to access detailed medication and drug monitoring information in order to receive certification.

Looking Ahead at the Future of Meaningful Use, What Comes Next?

The Meaningful Use incentive program has been a positive motivator for healthcare IT innovation and adoption, but some feel that the investment from healthcare providers has also been a distraction. The industry expects that, in four years, the MU program will have run its course, making way for private venture capital funding which will bring a new wave of opportunities. At this point, it is unclear whether the industry will be resistant to change or continue with the current momentum of being open to further advances.

The process of complete MU adoption is uncharted territory – no other industry has experienced large-scale government implementation such as this. Thus, it is difficult to predict how the industry will react when it comes to an end. So far, early indications show that the feedback will be spilt in thirds – 1/3 continuing to support it, 1/3 will be too burned out, and 1/3 will pick and choose which aspects they want to still implement.

For the organizations that do want to implement new technology there are areas on the horizon they should be monitoring.

  1. Mobile EHR applications that give clinicians access to patients’ charts, prescriptions, and the ability to communicate with their colleagues and patients anytime, anywhere.
  2. Mobile applications that allow consumers to purchase their healthcare from a web-based portal, make appointments, request refills of prescriptions, etc. all from their mobile devices.
  3. Technology that protects patients’ privacy and security. With all of the accessibility patients will have to their own medical records, and the accessibility their physicians will have, there needs to be a sound infrastructure for security.
  4. Analytical tools that help ACO and population health models work.
  5. Advanced and user-friendly EHRs. MU will be accessible via a cloud system, streamlining data capture and delivering more intelligent data mining and reporting.

The change will happen and the technology will be available – organizations and healthcare providers just need to decide how they will use it.

HITECH Act Celebrates Five Years

This week marks five years since the enactment of the HITECH Act, which allocated $25 billion to increasing the use of electronic health records, and some patient advocate groups are celebrating its success. Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, stated that the widespread use of EHRs by providers made possible by the HITECH Act’s Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive programs are “helping to facilitate much-needed culture change by empowering patients.”

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society highlighted some of progress made since the law was enacted in 2009. For example:

• Enrollment in the Meaningful Use program exceeds 93% among eligible hospitals;
• EHR use among office-based physicians has increased from 48% in 2009 to 78% in 2013; and
• The percentage of acute care hospitals achieving Stages 5, 6 or 7 on the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Records Adoption Model has increased from 11.2% to 37.4% (Leary, HIMSS blog, 2/14).

Looking ahead, there is still work to be done. The National Partnership for Women & Families also stated that the availability of EHRs needs to continue to grow “to ensure that all patients have access to their own health information and all providers have secure [EHR] systems capable of coordinating care across multiple settings.” The group added, “We need to build on the meaningful use program and significantly improve health IT to identify and reduce health disparities.”