What exactly is meaningful use and how does it relate to your practice?
It may surprise you that these two things have more in common than you think. Just a deeper look into how meaningful use can save your eyecare practice thousands from the incentive program! Below is a special guest post from our friends at VitalHealth Software giving you all the details of adopting meaningful use at your practice!
According to the latest market research reports, close to 90% of general family medicine physicians have adopted an EHR, or are in the process of doing so. The rapid increase in adoption – up from perhaps 25% no more then four years ago – can mostly be attributed to the promise of meaningful use incentives, and the looming reduction in Medicare reimbursements for those that opt out of the program.
The adoption rate amongst ODs is starting to ramp up as well. Perhaps you haven’t taken the plunge yet, and are taking a wait-and-see approach, hoping that things will become easier as early adopters work out the kinks. But the window of opportunity is not open much longer. ODs that want to benefit from incentive payments will have to start participating no later than 2014. So perhaps we can help alleviate some of the concerns you may have, based on what we have heard in the field.
1. An EHR Will Slow Me Down
This concern is by far the most often voiced concern by medical professionals. And for some solutions, this may be true. Many EHR solutions available today are based on older technologies, and perhaps designed for large practices with dedicated personnel to input data. These solutions offer a myriad of features and functions with complicated screens and workflows that require a lot of experience and simply don’t fit well with more agile practices. So take a little time to research your options. Look for an EHR that can support your workflow, with screen designs optimized for quick and easy data entry. Avoid solutions that tie you down to using a mouse and keyboard only. Once you give it a try, you will find that many consultation types benefit from the ability to directly face your patient, using an unobtrusive tablet device to document the visit.
2. Attestation Seems Complicated
True, it DOES seem complicated. But fortunately, an EHR that has been certified for Meaningful Use should do most of the work for you. When researching your options, look for solutions that can generate the exact reports you will need to submit in an easy to interpret format. All you’ll have to do is simply enter the data generated by that report into an online submission form. And starting 2014, the Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs) will have to be submitted electronically directly from the EHR. No effort required on your part other than initiating that process.
3. Is It Really ‘Meaningful’?
That is a fair question. Does a certified EHR really help improve quality of care? According to ONC, 88% of practices report that EHR adoption produces clinical benefits for them, while 75% of practices report that adoption has led to better overall patient care. These benefits can be attributed to several reasons. The four reasons most often mentioned by our customers are: instant access to patient medical history from anywhere, reminders for preventive care as well as acute care alerts through clinical decision support, improved care coordination through electronic exchange of medical data, and the ability to stimulate patient engagement through patient portal access. Of course some practitioners claim to do all these things without an EHR, but having a meaningful use certified EHR just makes the process easier.
4. Can EHR Software Benefit My Practice As A Business?
This is NOT a requirement that ONC uses to qualify meaningful use. But we have yet to meet a practice owner to whom this is not a concern. We have already established that the right EHR should not slow you down in documenting a medical exam. But it should also help you streamline the process of coding your visit for billing purposes, prescribing medication, generating reports, and transferring the appropriate data to your eyecare practice management software for ordering products. So make sure you don’t overlook these concerns when choosing your EHR.
5. How Does EHR Implementation Benefit My Patients?
This question is somewhat related to meaningful use. Studies show that successful EHR implementation helps improve quality of care. And based on our experience, it also greatly increases patient satisfaction. Modern EHRs allow patients to directly access select data from their medical record, and interact electronically with their care providers. And MU certified EHRs enable the exchange of data between different care providers, avoiding the need for patients to provide medical history information multiple times, with all its inherent inconsistencies.
We recommend that providers initially focus on getting the correct workflow implemented for optimal use of an EHR within a practice. Once that is done, focus on improving the patient experience by providing direct patient portal access.
6. Are These ‘Cloud-Based’ EHRs Really Safe And Reliable?
We hear this question quite often. Many ODs have probably used a locally installed software product for years, and may be a bit skeptical about moving their private data to the cloud. We recently released an eBook on this subject. Long story short… for small and medium sized practices we recommend a cloud-based solution over locally installed software. Cloud-based technology solutions are reliable, more secure, easily scalable, and far easier to maintain than any local solution can ever be, with a predictable cost pattern. Cloud is the way to go.
The road to Meaningful Use is not necessarily easy. But it is actually not as hard as you think. With the right EHR, most of the work is done for you. There is still an opportunity to benefit from financial incentives, so the time to act is now!
Ready to get started on the Meaningful Use Incentive Program? Our eBook, A Beginner's Guide to Meaningful Use, will tell you everything you need to know to get started!