Michael Fain, D.O., opened Indian Creek Family Health Center in Brookville a decade ago, and began using an electronic health record (EHR) system on day one. But when the opportunity came to recoup some of that investment, he didn’t hesitate.
|In Brookville, (left to right) Vickie Burch, A.P.R.N., nurse practitioner;
April Edwards, medical assistant; Michael Fain, D.O.; and Shannon Maddock, office manager.
The practice is on track to qualify for incentive payments for reaching “meaningful use” under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. Practices can earn up to $44,000 by 2015, and the assistance Dr. Fain has received from the Tri-State Regional Extension Center (REC) has cost him nothing.
Tri-State assists practices in 19 southeastern Indiana counties (see here), showing them how to use EHRs to achieve meaningful use and earn incentives. Practices in other counties can access the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center at Purdue University (see May 16 ISMA Reports or visit the ISMA website) for help.
“If a physician plans to accept payment from third-party payers, the EHR is going to be as important a tool as the stethoscope,” said Nicholas R. Lemming, M.D., one of six physicians at Seymour Family Medical Center. The practice has used Allscripts EHR since 2008 and signed with Tri-State last December.
|CMS answers your questions about meaningful use
Are you still wondering: What exactly is meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs)? Or, do you wonder what “attestation” means?
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has answers for you. The agency recently added to its list of questions and answers surrounding the EHR incentive program, meeting meaningful use requirements, attestation, quality measures – and much more.
To see the 145 common questions and answers, visit here.
FAST FACTS –
- The Medicare EHR Incentive Program issued a first round of payments May 19 totaling $75 million to eligible providers who signed up in the first two weeks of the program.
- Indiana Medicaid made its first EHR Incentive Payment in May, $21,250 to Lisa Holtsclaw, D.O., of Fort Wayne.
“They have been available and accommodating to our schedule,” Dr. Lemming said of Tri-State. The REC‘s knowledge and experience helped his practice understand the details of meaningful use and find their shortcomings.
“The gap analysis done with Tri-State was insightful to guide our forward progress,” said John Fye, M.D., one of Dr. Lemming’s partners.
Shannon Maddock, Indian Creek office manager, first heard about the Tri-State REC in an email from the ISMA. “A Tri-State representative came to visit and explained what they could do to help us achieve meaningful use,” she explained. “Now when I run into things I don’t understand, I can call our representative and she gets the answers for me.”
Practice Manager Kathy Franklin in Seymour said when an issue or problem arises, Tri-State is quick to offer solutions. “They say here’s what worked with another practice, let’s try it.”
Maddock and staff are now hitting about 70 percent of their marks and printing reports. “We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without help from Tri-State,” said Dr. Fain.
Physician, nurse practitioners and staff agree they were already doing many things required for meaningful use of their e-MD Solution Series EHR. It’s pushing the right buttons to generate a report that’s new to them.
“Take, for example, tobacco use,” said Dr. Fain. “We’ve been recording patients’ use of tobacco since we opened our practice, but we could not print a report to show it. Now we must re-document to reach meaningful use requirements.”
Franklin’s office is very close to attesting to achieving meaningful use, which involves using a certified EHR, electronically exchanging health information and submitting clinical quality and other measures. What’s the process been like?
“Our staff has spent quite a bit of time working with Tri-State, but I feel it is time well spent,” said Dr. Fye. “Our physicians have made only small time commitments, usually confined to within our regular partner meetings.”
Maddock expects the practice will be ready to meet objectives Aug. 1. They’ll make adjustments in September and do reporting in the last three months of the year.
Dr. Fain remains “skeptical” about whether some criteria are “meaningful” or “useful,” yet he arrives at the office early and stays late to reach the objectives. “I think we all need to make certain sacrifices to improve the delivery of health care for the future,” he said. “I have no doubt we will achieve our goals.”
Dr. Fye summed up the process: “I can see that in the future the path to meaningful use will improve the delivery of health care by keeping a more concise picture of current overall health and the need for preventive services, and by reducing duplication of services.”
|In Seymour, (left to right) David R. Stout, M.D.; Pamela Snook, M.D.;
John Fye, M.D.; and Nicholas Lemming, M.D