Recently, 41 hospitals and physician practices earned the designation “Indiana EHR MUvers” for their commitment to meaningful use of their electronic health record (EHR) systems. They were recognized by the Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center (I-HITEC) at Purdue and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) as the closest in the state to meeting federal compliance guidelines.
Practices on the verge of attesting that they are meaningful EHR users are in small towns not big cities, and two are solo physician offices. Those Indiana practices leading the way are:
- Haendiges & Associates, PC, Kokomo
- Harrison Family Medicine, Corydon
- Arthur F. Wang, M.D., Mishawaka
Our state also had its first Federally Qualified Health Center, Indianapolis-based HealthNet, Inc., reach the EHR milestone. In all, 37 other Hoosier health care organizations were recognized for their commitment to adopt, implement and upgrade technology as they prepare to qualify as meaningful EHR users. See a list here.
“These providers will move our understanding of health care forward by connecting the dots electronically between multiple providers, making relevant information available at the point of care and setting the stage for a truly holistic treatment approach,” said Monica Arrowsmith, director of I-HITEC at Purdue. I-HITEC and Tri-State are two regional extension centers in the state helping physicians achieve meaningful use.
Learn more about the centers on the ISMA website.
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized $17 billion to be used as incentives, up to $44,000 per eligible provider, for achieving meaningful use standards early. Payments under Medicare expire in 2016.
Sharing what worked
Michelle Haendiges, M.D., and the staff of her ob/gyn practice are leading the way toward reaching meaningful use for our state. She noted one clear advantage of EHR usage, “My staff would spend hours a week hunting for charts. We have gained that time back.”
|In Kokomo, (from left to right) Michelle Haendiges, M.D.; Jen Hansen, nurse practitioner; and office staff members Laura Simms, Sharon Miller, Kim Burton and Deanna Willis are leading the way toward meaningful use of EHRs in Indiana.
On the clinical side, Dr. Haendiges said using a laptop or tablet computer in the exam room is a “paradigm shift” for doctors. But patients accept it, she said. “People realize this is the future, having information contained in one place.”
Her best advice is: “Grab someone’s hand – like Purdue (I-HITEC) – and let them guide you through the process.”
Reggie Lyell, M.D., with Harrison Family Medicine said his practice with six physicians and one nurse practitioner was well on its way to meaningful use but contacted I-HITEC “for some validation.” He also noted, “It was helpful to have an outside source look over our privacy and security.”
Arthur Wang, M.D., advised he is “almost there – on the verge” of attesting to meaningful use. He opened his Mishawaka practice in 2004 with an EHR because the systems are “the trend” for the future, but achieving meaningful use has been more complex than he originally thought. “It’s a lot of work, more than just using an EHR. To comply with all the guidelines takes a fair amount of effort.”
Yet, Dr. Wang and his staff are certain patients see EHRs as more efficient and e-prescribing as a benefit.
“Patients especially like the clinical summaries of their visits – even though providing them takes a little more time at checkout,” he said. “And they really appreciate having a medication list when they leave.”
|TOP 10 TIPS from Indiana’s “EHR MUvers”
- “Set a date to achieve meaningful use; It gives you a goal and that’s a good thing.” Dr. Haendiges
- “Put together a team of staff at all levels. Get staff behind it so when you set up protocols, everyone can help.” Dr. Lyell
- “Have a physician champion and a point person, a go-to person to get answers. And make sure it’s someone tenacious.” Dr. Haendiges
- “Talk to Purdue (or Tri-State Regional Extension Center) to get help understanding the measures and how to go about meeting them.” Dr. Wang
- “Be sure your software vendor is ONC-certified.” (ONC is the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.) Dr. Lyell
- “Establish good relationships with the vendor’s support staff.” Dr. Lyell
- “Take advantage of a vendor blog. Allscripts has a blog where physicians can post questions and get help from each other.” Dr. Wang
- “Get your workflows in order also before you go live – streamline how you see patients from check-in to check-out.” Dr. Haendiges
- “Develop templates before you go live. That makes a huge difference.” Dr. Haendiges
- “Consider hiring a scribe at the beginning. We did not decrease volume at all and I got behind in data entry, so a scribe may help.” Dr. Haendiges