The Meaningful Use dropout rate—what does it mean?

The year 2012 saw a huge increase in the users of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, but at the same time, the retention rate dropped dramatically from 2011. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) report, in 2011 only 11,578; and in 2012, 9,188 family physicians attested to the Meaningful Use program. It is a huge dropout of around 21 percent drop, in terms of participation.

Has your practice registered for 2013? Hospitals currently participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must complete registration and attestation for fiscal year 2013 according to the Hospital Attestation Deadline of November 30. Will the dropout rate continue this year? Let’s have a look into the factors which led to Meaningful Use dropout rate in 2012; and how your practice can avoid this.meaningful use

It is quite surprising that providers are dropping out because the incentives will continue to decrease in the coming years. Unfortunately, if the trend continues, only a few number of providers would have actually benefitted completely from the EHR incentive program.

It seems physicians need a motivational push to remain committed to the incentive program. Government initiated a campaign through Regional Extension Centers (RECs) in the first year (2011) to get physicians on board. RECs were provided incentives but they were not given any benefit for the next year (2012) to retain the number of registered physicians. As a result, the effort put by RECs were reduced to a sudden burst in the number of family physicians registering for the EHRs, but a negative retention rate of MU participants was witnessed in the next year.

The growing trend to replace the EHR software may very well be one reason of the MU dropout ratio. Providers, who are dissatisfied by their current EHR system, turn to replacing the system and with the latest technology available they can do so, but the implementation process takes time. The provider may well need time to train their staff and get accustomed to the use of the software. This results in missing the important date of registration.

Some physicians must’ve missed the attesting time for 2012 because of the carelessness on their part or simply the fact that information providing organizations like RECs or EHR vendors were not active enough to inform providers on the revenue they will miss upon if they did not attest. It is a mistake on the part of the provider, and failure on the part of the informants.

EHR vendors will be very active this year, because of the negative report. They should make sure this time that modify their software in a way that has efficient MU attestation dates reporting capabilities. A real-time MU reporting tool can help the practice remain on MU incentive track. When providers start relying on software, they expect their software to do everything for them. So, providers should demand such functionality from their vendors to be on track.

But wait CMS has its own plans, too. Drop rate will reduce and retention rate will improve, how? It aims to charge penalties for those providers who are unable to meet MU status by the year 2015. It wants to push forward with MU Stage 3, and for that it wants as many providers as possible on board.


Do You Need a New EHR System

Why would you need a new EHR system? The question arises because of certain reasons; one possible reason could be your continued dissatisfaction with your current EHR system/vendor. The other and as good a reason as the first one is, your current EHR vendor isn’t providing the package you need.curemd

EHR vendors have increased manifold in the past couple of years. This happened because of the initiative taken by President Obama to introduce Obamacare: a program to encourage healthcare uninsured people to register for insurance plans to improve healthcare system and to promote providers to use electronic health recoding technology.

Meaningful Use standards:  Your software should meet the criteria in Meaningful Use. You may need to replace your system because your vendor may not be compliant with Meaningful Use standards. The framework is arduous to remember and the only thing you are relying on is your software, so buy a system that is up-to-date with Meaningful Use compliances.

Fast Processor: Do you want slow, clunky, and choppy software that slows down your system? The answer should be a big NO! So, what you need to is a big RESEARCH! But you can obviously hire a consultant that will do the job for you. Always remember you are choosing the EHR system that does work for you, that smoothes out the work flow of your business, whether clinical or operational. Try few software before buying one, free demos are your best option. Ultimately, choose a one that you feel intuitive. Salesman is always there to draw you in the software, take your time, don’t rush into buying anything. You need a fast system that produces results or does what you ask the machine to do. Too many clicks and still you are stuck on step one, is no good. The basic functions should be fast and efficient to perform.

Final advice: choose EHR vendor that has a strong financial backing. It will give you some surety that the company will be responsible for their actions, and in case of loss will compensate for the loss. And do try out those new Mobile EHR apps that may serve your purpose and may end up choosing Mobile EHR that is iPad-compliant!


The Urgency in ICD-10 Implementation

Experts have recommended that care providers will be better off if they start the ICD-10 implementation process at least 6 months to a year before the deadline.

This is instrumental in understanding potential impacts on the practice related to finances, operations and the technical side of things.

Furthermore, it will take time for everybody at the practice to fully comprehend and understand the new set of codes and to properly use them in claims.

The second step requires patience, support and effort. Traditional phases of testing include system integration, user acceptance, clinical collaboration and an overall testing. It is imperative to create the most realistic scenarios to demonstrate testing so that it is as close to reality as possible.

The importance of urgent ICD-10 implementation cannot be undermined.

With all the hype surrounding ICD-10, providers want to phase to the new set of codes as soon as possible and with as little trouble. This is why; they are looking for vendors who can help them in making the conversion as smooth as possible

Experts have recommended that care providers will be better off if they start the ICD-10 implementation process at least 6 months to a year before the deadline.

This is instrumental in understanding potential impacts on the practice related to finances, operations and the technical side of things.

Furthermore, it will take time for everybody at the practice to fully comprehend and understand the new set of codes and to properly use them in claims.

The following is a list of steps that care providers need to take, to secure their ICD-10 transition:

1.   Initial Planning

With the help of your ICD-10 experts, it is recommended that you devise and establish a regulatory framework, establish risk & project management structure and communicate with external partners.

2.   Communication and Collaboration

Establish a training plan based on staff training needs. Create awareness among the staff regarding the effects of ICD-10 and its implementation. Develop a plan of communication with and between the staff.

3.   Evaluation & Assessment

Now is the right time for a formal assessment of your business and the impact your implemented policies have on it. Furthermore, at this stage, it is crucial to evaluate your vendor and assess the technological impact the usage of new technologies is having at your practice.


Determine and test system migration strategies, deliver operational training and train the staff on how to effectively use the system. Test the technical modifications and see if they work seamlessly with your system.

5.   Making the Transition

Establish the environment for a go-live scenario. Make sure everyone is ready and well trained for the updates to take place, so that the daily work load is not hampered in any way.



Sequester Cuts and the Disgruntled Healthcare Community

With the budget plan approved by the Senate on March 23rd, President Barack Obama released the proposed fiscal budget for the year 2014, announcing major cuts to the healthcare industry.

A joint study by the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association estimated that the reduced funding for healthcare would result in a loss of 766,000 jobs by the end of year 2021. These job cuts would penetrate through the economy and around 496,000 jobs would be lost in healthcare and related industries by the end of this year.

The proposed budget means to reduce $400 billion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years. Research shows that these cuts are highly unpopular with around 82% of the population against the cuts in Medicare.

Through the sequestration, $140 billion of funding to scientific research will be cut by 7% including a $1.6 billion cut to the National Institute of Health, which is the largest Biomedical Research Institute in the world. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) also faces a cut in funding by $289 million.

The American Association of Cancer Research gathered 15,000 protestors in Washington D.C., comprised of healthcare professionals, patients and researchers alike to protest against the sequestration cuts. Eric Hoffman, director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington voiced his dismay and said, “They are doing cuts on top of cuts on top of cuts”.

Gene Ransom, executive director of the Maryland State Medical Society said, “Doctors are very nervous about this, it’s not like the cost of business has gone down”.

Rich Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association said, “In addition, the budget would jeopardize the ability of hospitals to train the next generation of physicians by cutting funding for graduate medical education, and hinder care for people in rural communities by reducing funding for critical access hospitals.

Furthermore, industry experts say that the budget cuts would wreak havoc and result in around 3000 lesser inpatient admissions, 804,000 lesser outpatient visits and 424,000 lesser HIV tests granted by the CDC.

Despite the ongoing protest against the budget cuts and its potentially damaging effects on care delivery, a segment within the healthcare community believes that 2% reductions do not make that much of a difference and are largely unconcerned. Rob Schile, partner in charge of health systems and reimbursement at CliftonLarsonAllen said, “While these cuts are significant in terms of total dollars and undoubtedly will have some overall impact on the economy, the remaining $85 billion targeted for 2013 represents just over 2 percent of the total $3.8 trillion in federal spending for 2013” He added, “In reality, the proposed cuts should not equate to the level of devastation currently portrayed in the media”.


Declining PC Sales and what it means for the Healthcare Industry?

Witnessing the worst drop in sales in the last 19 years, PC sales have declined 14% in the first quarter of this year. Industry experts see the increased use of smart phones and tablets as the main reason, along with negative reviews of Windows 8 contributing to the decline in shipments.

The first quarter of 2013 saw a decrease in market share for all major vendors including HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer Group and ASUS. Compared to the first quarter of 2012, the first quarter of this year has seen a staggering 14% decrease in overall market share. On the other hand, tablet and mobile phone sales continued to increase and are forecasted to grow consistently in the upcoming years.

What does this mean for Healthcare IT?

A reduction in PC sales means that consumers are now buying alternative devices such as smart phones, tablets and ultra-thin laptops. The increase in usage and availability of these alternate devices suggests that PCs are on the road to becoming obsolete. It means that the next generation of consumers will have portable computer systems instead of personal computers.

This rise in portability gives credence to the fact that we are in an age where information sharing is constant and holds no geographical boundaries. Consumers thoroughly review any product or service they are about to purchase on the internet using their portable computer systems. Consumers share their location with others while they are travelling. They also use these computers to search for and consult doctors; and find out possible treatment options.

Healthcare as an industry is trending towards increased patient engagement, which entails better accessibility of medical records, increase in accountability so that patients have more say in the use of their personal information, safety and sharing of information in an interoperable manner. This trend has lead to the emergence and usage of electronic devices as a means to gain access and share information by patients and doctors alike.

A decline in the sales of PCs will lead to patients using alternative devices to access their electronic medical records. Patients will use features of Patient Portals to have constant access to personal health information, be reminded about important dates through warnings and alerts; detailed medication instructions and access to lab results, radiology reports and procedural information.

Doctors will use their tablets to look at and update Electronic Health Records. They will use that information to send claims to insurance companies. Through Remote Patient Monitoring Technologies, doctors will effectively be able to care for patients without having to monitor them in the same room just like patients will be able to view their lab results at home.

Even though the news of declining PC sales does not bode well for computer technology vendors, it certainly shows us the way in which healthcare information technology is going forward. It is instrumental for the healthcare community to move side by side with trends in technology and avail its benefits which can lead to quality care provision and patient safety.