The time has come to adopt an Electronic Health Record (EHR) in your office. It’s more than just a convenience issue. Within five years, Medicare reimbursements will be decreased for non EHR-practices. Several industry experts believe that access to PPO panels and third-party payers may be closed for those providers who do not adopt an EHR. Some states have already passed laws that require you to use an EHR or you can’t practice.
In three articles, I’m going to help you navigate the next five years of EHR adoption. We’ll focus on the specifics outlined by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). This establishes "meaningful use" of health information technology which will determine your access to stimulus incentive payments.
This is how the information will be included:
• Part one (this article) outlines the eight goals of health information technology standards. (April Issue)
• Part two highlights the 25 EHR requirements necessary to qualify for incentives payments, according to CMS and ONCHIT. (May Issue)
• Part three explains how incentives will be paid, and how to submit an application for incentive funds. (June Issue)
In the simplest of terms, here are the actual changes in health information standards and how an EHR fits into the picture. Here’s a breakdown of the goals spelled out by the Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONHIT) and how they establish meaningful use of health information technology.
In order for your practice to meet the government’s HIT goals, your technology must:
• Collect patient demographics–race, ethnicity, primary language, gender
• Protect personal health information
• Connect to nationwide health information exchanges
• Protect health information from being taken in an unauthorized way
• Account for all disclosure of personal health information
• Store and update a certified health record for every member of your practice
• Understand the needs of vulnerable and underserved patients
• Provide better quality health care for all
Part one of these standards was met with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. Now that technology has changed, HIPAA no longer refers to locked filing cabinets. Now we must focus on account access to offsite data backup and e-mail encryption security. That changes things a bit.
Part two of these standards was met with the implementation of digital SOAP notes. Digital notes were first a time-saving feature for doctors. Then, the efficiency increased when the information could be transferred to a billing process.
Step three must include a way to have all of these new technologies and efficiencies working together. Patient data and billing data should be combined, and accessible from anywhere in the office. Measuring outcomes and data across populations of patients within your clinic rather than just one patient set of data at a time is the next phase of improved case management. Here’s where we enter the realm of a true electronic health record.
A true EHR is that it is the final piece to meet all HIT standards. An EHR can be used to identify the needs of underserved populations, connect to nationwide health care exchanges, and improve the overall quality of health care. Then consider the EHR’s ability to analyze data (patient demographics, treatment, outcomes) as a basis for leveraging better reimbursements. Now the electronic package really begins to pay for itself.
The good news is that you can get help to cover the cost of the program. There’s up to a $44,000 stimulus incentive payment available. Plus, the technology will help you exceed documentation requirements and increase collectible billing. There’s also the savings realized through fewer decision making errors, fewer redundancies in service, and better management of continued treatment for chronic disease. All told, EHR’s are estimated to save the American health care system $77 billion per year.
The EHR not only meets HIT requirements, but also shows the needed measurement for third-party reimbursements. It’s a simple solution to maintaining and reporting health information. Add a complete EHR program to your practice and it’s a positive outcome for you, your patients, and the oversight agencies.
In the next article, we’ll outline the 25 meaningful use requirements necessary for eligible providers (you) to qualify for the incentive program.
Steven J. Kraus, D.C., D.I.B.C.N., C.C.S.P., F.A.S.A., F.I.C.C., is founder and CEO of Future Health¯the nation’s #1 provider of chiropractic-specific EHR/practice management software. He has more than 22 years’ experience in practice management and is an acknowledged expert in Heath IT, including EHR and the up-to-$44,000 ARRA government incentive. Dr. Kraus serves on numerous committees and frequently travels to Washington D.C. to represent chiropractic physicians in healthcare discussions and policymaking. To see a no-obligation Future Health software demo, call 1-888-434-7347.