Meaningful Use criteria for Eligible Professionals (EPs)


In order to avail government incentives for Meaningful Use program, eligible professionals (EPs) would have to demonstrate that they have been using their electronic health records (EHRs) according to the criteria of meaningful use program. Physicians would have to successfully attest to the program in order to qualify for government incentives program, administered by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

EPs who have just adopted EHRs would not have to attest for meaningful use program in their first year of implementation, but without later attestation they won’t be eligible for government incentives.

Meaningful Use criteria

The first criterion to fulfill in order to achieve meaningful use is to adopt a government certified EHR system. The certified software should be interoperable and have ICD-10 coding system. The software should have a patient portal to engage patients for informed and improved healthcare. This is required under the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs, which is run under by the CMS.

The objectives and criteria for the meaningful use program have been divided into three different stages that will span over five years period. The objectives are further divided into core and menu, of which core objectives should be fulfilled. However, there is option for EPs to meet any criteria in the menu set.

In meaningful use stage 1, EPs should have certified EHRs, use it to record clinical and non-clinical data of patients, share information with necessary stakeholders and patients. The meaningful use stage 2  [whitepaper] requires EPs to be more rigorous about health information data, while the third stage focuses on the efficiency and quality of data shared and improved patient care.

How to tell if you need a new EHR system?


According to Black Book Rankings survey 2013, nearly 80% of US physicians are dissatisfied with their current Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. The reasons for their dissatisfaction include the systems being clunky, difficult to use, boring, not interoperable, not compliant to regulatory requirements and the like. But can the physicians do something to make their current systems work? Is replacing the current EHR systems the only viable solution? Can the current EHR vendor upgrade or improve the system?

Let’s give you a few tips through which the need for a new EHR system or otherwise can be gauged.

Interoperability

Interoperability is the future of healthcare industry. If the current EHR software is not able to meaningfully connect with other entities in the healthcare delivery model, the current vendor needs to be questioned about their ability to make it work. If the vendor is not able to make the required changes in the software or cannot provide interoperability, then it is time to move on.

Regulatory changes

The government is regularly updating the regulatory requirements for the healthcare IT industry. The implementations of ICD-10 and Meaningful Use 2 are two very important changes that are taking place for the users. In case the current vendor is unable to upgrade its system to meet the regulatory requirements for the practice, then it may be time to look for alternatives.

Data security

Complete security of patient data is of crucial importance for any EHR user. Recently, there have been many data security lapses as far as patient data is concerned. The government and HIPAA are also frequently addressing the loopholes in the legislation in order to impose stricter fines and penalties on those EHR vendors who are unable to guarantee complete security. It must be made sure that the EHR vendor constantly improves the security protocols related to safety of patient data.

Cost to change

If the cost to change EHR vendors exceeds the future benefits, then it may not be a wise move to make a switch. However, if the current EHR system is hampering productivity, then practices might consider switching to better, robust solutions. Remember, it is always better to partner with a small EHR vendor with a better innovation plan rather than a big EHR vendor with no vision for future.

Patient portal

Patient portals are going to revolutionize the healthcare delivery model by increasing patient engagement to levels where they are able to self-schedule and increase shared decision making. In case the current EHR vendor is unable to equip its product with Patient Portals, then it may be a good decision to move on.

These are some of the important areas which a practice can rely on before deciding if a new EHR system is required.

 

Could EHRs be responsible for Meaningful Use dropout rate?


Over the last few months, there have been numerous surveys and analyses done which highlight that the rate for Meaningful Use attestation is dropping sharply. On the other hand, EHR software adoption is continuously on the rise. So there must be something wrong for some practices. What is causing the decline in the Meaningful Use attestation rate when EHR usage is on the rise?

A recent assessment of government data notes that 17 percent of hospitals who earned Meaningful Use incentives in 2011 could not earn the same in 2012. There could be many reasons for the dropout in rate. Difficulties in compliance to Meaningful Use or problems with the system as a whole could be a few. But another question which is of prime importance is whether the EHR systems are partially responsible for the dropout in Meaningful Use attestation rate?

A recent Black Book Rankings survey finds that nearly half of the physicians who are using EHR systems are not satisfied with their choice. Another 17 percent of the doctors plan to switch their current system because of various reasons. So could EHRs be blamed for dropout in Meaningful Use rate? The answer would be a hesitant yes.

Some of the reasons that the physicians are highlighting as reasons for changing their EHR systems are:

  1. EHR systems are not meeting the practice requirements. Either they contain too many features or way too less.
  2. Practices made a wrong choice of selecting their current EHR vendors and did not make the right choice.
  3. Current EHR systems in practices are generic and do not meet their specialty requirements.
  4. EHR vendors are not very supportive and the software itself suffers many breakdowns.
  5. EHR systems are not able to communicate adequately with other stakeholders in the industry.
  6. Current EHR systems are not going to meet ICD-10 or Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.

These are some of the reasons why current EHRs might be to blame for the dropout in Meaningful Use rate. However, once the practices switch to better and more efficient systems, this is likely going to go back up.