CMS introduces changes in Meaningful Use Timeline

There have been some changes in the implementation of Meaningful Use program, introduced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). The changes have been proposed in order to regulate the CMS incentive program for eligible physicians (EPs) who have implemented EHR system at their practices and reported their data to the government. 

The changes have been announced in the timeline of the Meaningful Use program. According to the new timeline, the Stage 2 of the MU program – which was previously going to end in 2015 – has been extended to 2016. The change in Stage 2 deadline has pushed the onset of Stage 3 to 2017. 

However, this does not apply to every physician who has implemented EHR at their practice. The rule applies that only those practitioners can proceed to Stage 3 of MU program, who have successfully completed last two years in Stage 2. 

This rule serves two major purposes: firs of all, it will allow the government departments, CMS and ONC to guarantee improved patient care through successful implementation of EHR system, data sharing and reporting; secondly, to ensure proper utilization of the data collected from Stage 2 information exchange and use it to make effective policies for Stage 3.  

The three stages of Meaningful Use program have been carefully designed, so that every stakeholder in the healthcare industry can benefit from it. Moreover, every phase is interlinked with each other in such a way that without fulfilling the requirements of one phase, providers cannot move on to the next one. Stage 1 of MU program focused on creating information that lead to efficient health information exchange in Stage 2, while Stage 3 will focus on the outcomes of the entire program and its impact on the healthcare system.

Following is the criteria for fulfilling Meaningful Use program Stage 3:
  •  Focusing on outcome of the program on healthcare by providing quality, safe and efficient services
  • Allowing patients to access tools that can help them in managing their health, like patient portals
  • Access to and sharing patient data
  • Making efforts to improve health of people

How to Train Your EHR Staff

One of the most important things to do after you have selected your EHR Software (Electronic Health Record) is to train or get the staff at the practice trained.

Implementing an EHR Software at your practice is a daunting task and requires dedication, commitment and a goal to make the practice more efficient than it has ever been before. A new system at the workplace is exciting for some, and those who are against change, look at it as a burden.

However you may feel about Electronic Health Records Software, know that they are here to stay, they are going to make your life more efficient, they are initially going to cost a bit but are going to save you money in the long-run, and that they are going to help you save more lives than it was ever possible before. 

Before actually starting to work on the new EHR Software, it is essential to make sure that everybody is used to the software and knows how to perform his/her designated task. For this to happen, they will need to be trained. 

Some of the best practices to get your staff trained on EHR are mentioned below. 

First off, it is important to ascertain the level of basic computer skills of your staff. Find out how much computer does the staff know, and train them based on this information.

Secondly, when you see what each individual is capable of, use one or two individuals who are relatively good to train their colleagues. In this way, knowledge and information sharing regard the EHR Software is possible, and will help train the staff at high pace.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize the areas and capacity in which the individuals will be working on the computer, so you can train them specifically for those areas. 

After you’re done with the training, make sure that you keep on checking up on the staff if they are having any troubles maneuvering the technology. Help them out if they are, or ask for volunteers to teach them.

How should healthcare professionals manage their time?

Physicians are already very busy but they are about to get a lot busier with the Affordable Care Act and the influx of new patients in the market.
With so many patients health on the line, physicians don’t want increased demand to lead to below par service. This means you need to start managing your time now.
Let’s give you a few tips.
       Set goals: Take time to establish goals for your organization and create your short term, long term schedules. Make sure to write them down and discuss with your supervisor to gain additional input. Goals should be identifiable, measureable, and actionable. 

       Prioritize your tasks: Make sure you prioritize your tasks when you arrive for work and spend as little time on wandering around or on Facebook. Write all your tasks in a prominent location and post them where you can see them all day.

       Use technology: Modern healthcare systems like CureMD are designed to streamline healthcare practices by optimizing practice management and organizing health records. When your practice is online and organized, you and your patients save time. Patients can schedule their appointments, make changes, and communicate with your staff through the Patient Portal. 

See what they offer in their Practice Management solution.

     Use Electronic Health Records: If your employer hasn’t already done so, request that the organization switch to Electronic Health Records (EHR). Electronic records cut down on paperwork while making it easier to find pertinent patient information. The faster you can access and update patient records, the more everyone benefits.
For more information on the benefits of transitioning from paper charts to an electronic record solution, check out this white paper: 3 Steps to a Paperless Practice.

      Delegate your responsibilities: Don’t think you can do everything on your own. If you have help available, use it. Assistants, administrative staff, interns and volunteers are there for a reason. Take their help
      Learn when to say no: Increased stress and decreased productivity aren’t goals you should strive for, so carefully consider requests and know when to turn someone down.

What time management tips can you offer to other healthcare professionals? Let us know in the comments section below.

Fewer Ophthalmologists linked to poorer retinopathy treatment

According to a study published in the April issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, fewer individuals with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) receive care in areas with less access to ophthalmologists.
Diane M. Gibson, Ph.D., from Baruch College-City University of New York in New York City, utilized data from the 2005 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to identify 1,098 individuals with diabetes, 345 with diabetic retinopathy, and 498 with ARMD.
"Adequate access to ophthalmologists is necessary to ensure that this large number of individuals at high risk of and already affected by diabetic retinopathy or ARMD have the best visual health outcomes possible," Gibson writes.
Researchers found that individuals who lived in a county in the highest ophthalmologist availability quartile were less likely to be unaware they had diabetic retinopathy (predictive margin [PM], 66.1 versus 84.1 percent). They were also less likely to have vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy (PM, 1.4 versus 2.6 percent), compared to individuals who lived in a county in the lower three quartiles of ophthalmologist availability.
Those living in a county in the lowest quartile of ophthalmologist availability were more likely to be unaware they had ARMD (PM, 93.8 versus 88.3 percent), compared to those living in a county in the higher three quartiles of ophthalmologist availability. No outcomes were significantly tied to optometrist availability quartiles.

Meaningful Use Stage 2

In Meaningful Use Stage 1, the CMS had established a timeline that required providers to progress to Stage 2 criteria after two program years under the Stage 1 criteria. This original timeline would have required 
Medicare providers who first demonstrated Meaningful Use in 2011 to meet the Stage 2 criteria in 2013.

However, the Stage 2 criterion has been delayed. The earliest that the Stage 2 criteria will be effective is in fiscal year 2014 for eligible hospitals and CAHs or calendar year 2014 for EPs. 

Get ready for Meaningful Use Stage 2 with CureMD and increase the bottom line of your practice.

What ACO features are needed in an EMR?

Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a healthcare organization composed of voluntary healthcare professionals that include providers, healthcare professionals, hospitals, labs and practices, who come together to perform quality care delivery service for Medicare eligible candidates. EMR stands for Electronic Medical Record, and ACO must use an EMR software to provide high quality service.
Let’s go through some of the ACO features an EMR needs to accommodate.
Standards monitoring and proper management tools, are not efficient in patient service feature in a lot of EMRs out in the market. This result is inconsequential referential integrity when using an EMR. It makes the tracking service of patients a headache or in other words, an impossibility. Take an example. Patient service item is required to be recorded in three sections: exam note, order and message. The verification function from the exam note to the order is inefficiently performed quite frequently, in an EMR while in an ACO’s patient service the tracking of the patient is efficiently performed. It is done so by keeping a track of all events derived from the patient visit or data gathered through contextual tools in order to manage patient service.

Exchanges related to an ACO are entered as miscellaneous message in an EMR. The information pertaining to Counterparty Credit Risk transactions automatically comes in an EMR too, without a proper audit trail. An EMR should be able to identify information accurately from the source.
EMR systems make Continuity of Care Record comply with Meaningful Use, but fail to keep track of the lifecycle of the record. Electronic transaction should be tracked in an EMR software to its source efficiently, from authorization, claim and medical billing. The feature of ACO needed in an EMR is the ability to track the CCR within the EMR software. It will result in producing a proper patient note, and will transmit the visit note to the source of the CCR, which will help in smoothly tracking the process.

There are many structural EMR issues that remain unanswered in an ACO. It is by trial and error method, demand and supply chain and by going to the basic functions repeatedly, the missing features will be added. Since, the use EMR is a necessity of an ACO, EMR vendors should try their best to adequately build the support structure needed to provide the collaborative care ACO aims for. This can be made possible by the combined effort of ACOs and EMR vendors who are interested in filling up the gaps in their product.