Technology is only the first step in the launch of a patient portal; administrators must make subsequent decisions about everything from patient login protocols to patient record revisions.
Stage 2 of meaningful use requires that at least 5% of patients view, download and transmit their health-care information and also send secure electronic messages to their health-care provider. Even though that number is lower than the original objective of 10%, the rule is causing many health-care providers anxiety.
First, what are records? HIPAA’s “right of access” rules say patients are entitled to their “designated record set,” which includes medical and billing records, but health care providers must also provide access to “other records used to make decisions about a patient.”
Second, how do you provide access? You’ll have to give patients access to their records in the form that they request, even if it’s by email, and emailing records is against your policy. “The law trumps policy,” in the words of one health-care consultant.
Third, how do you protect a patient’s privacy? For example, how do you provide account logins? Patient records must be secure, of course, but securing them by making password requirements complex may create the impression that you’re denying access to records.
In addition, HIPAA’s right of amendment gives patients the right to request the amendment of their records, and those requests could increase significantly after your patient portal is deployed. Do you have the staff to handle those requests?
If you are looking for a patient portal, or would like to learn how to adapt one for your practice, please contact us today.
On the surface, the move toward electronic medical records (EMRs) focuses on updating hardware and implementing software. Behind the scenes, however, an equally important shift is occurring in the development and implementation of code-standardization programs.
The goal of a code-standardization program is to ensure that the health-care provider doesn’t have to think about code selection. In other words, the doctor enters a diagnosis, and a code is generated that makes sense to everyone involved, from the health-care provider to policymakers.
The benefits are numerous. First, there’s clinical decision support - the information a health-care provider needs to make a diagnosis being at his or her fingertips. There’s also there’s workflow improvement - the ability to enter information more quickly than it would take to write the same information into a chart. And, don’t forget interoperability - the ability for codes to allow the sharing of patient information regardless of how or where that information is accessed. Finally, there’s patient support - easier access to information because it’s been recorded in a consistent and clear manner.
Codes, such as the ICD series, have been around for a while, but efforts to standardize grew with the passage of the HITECH Act, and may skyrocket with meaningful use Stage 2, in which standardization requirements increase. If you are looking to adopt a standardized code that conforms with meaningful use Stage 2, please contact us today to see what we have to offer.
Some health-care organizations do not grasp the magnitude of the changes demanded by Stage 2 meaningful use, according to a panel convened at The Institute for Health Technology Transformation's Denver Health IT Summit earlier this summer.
In Stage 1 meaningful use, health-care providers had to demonstrate their ability to perform core tasks, which include data exchange, security, imaging and patient engagement. In Stage 2, they’ll actually have to perform these core measures.
Key to success, said the panelists, is working with an electronic medical record (EMR) vendor to tackle the many facets of meaningful use in a proactive manner - which is perhaps one reason the global health-care IT outsourcing market is forecasted by RnR Market Research to grow from $35 billion in 2013 to $50.4 billion in 2018. That’s at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%.
The key takeaway for health-care providers is to get help when needed. Your IT provider can help you improve your focus on your core business while reducing operational and maintenance costs by increasing your access to skilled IT resources. Outsourcing of health-care IT solutions is a way to mitigate rising health-care costs while meeting demand for quality care, according to RnR Market Research. Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve these goals.
It’s impossible to know what will happen on October 1, 2014, but you can get a head start on your preparations by asking your payers some questions about their ICD-10 plans.
Will you conduct external testing? Medicare says CMS contractors will not conduct full external testing with business partners, meaning you won’t know for sure if your claims can be accepted by the biggest payer in the industry—and, since many health plans follow Medicare’s lead, you could be guessing about other payers as well.
Will you be dual processing, and if so, when will you start? Many payers are planning to dual process, meaning they will accept both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes for a period of time. That’s a big benefit to you, as it will give your physicians and coders extra time to practice their documentation strategies and coding while seeing exactly what the world will look like after ICD-10. So, it’s a good idea to ask your payers if dual coding will be accepted for a transition period after October 1, and when they will start so you can maximize the benefits of side-by-side coding.
What will happen if something goes wrong? There’s more than a year left before ICD-10 is implemented, and no one knows what’s going to happen on October 1, 2014. As a result, it’s hard to prepare for something going wrong. That, however, is exactly why payers need to have a contingency plan in place. You should, too, as working together with payers during this crucial time is in everyone’s best interests.
If you are looking to begin preparing for the jump to ICD-10, contact us today to see how we can help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Patients are using mobile medical apps to take more responsibility for their well-being, but physicians can benefit from on-the-go technology as well. In fact, more and more doctors are incorporating mobile technology into their practices to be more efficient and effective. Here are three apps to consider. DrawMD (by Visible Health) With DrawMD for the iPad, physicians can show patients exactly what a complex procedure will entail. Select an anatomical image or upload your own, then sketch, stamp or type directly on the image to explain the medical or surgical procedures. Conceived by surgical oncologists, DrawMD’s specialties include anesthesiology, critical care, cardiology, female pelvic surgery, general and vascular surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, otolaryngology and urology. Cost: free.
Isabel (by App Isabel Healthcare) Isabel’s diagnosis-support system is 10 years old, but now it’s available as an iPhone, iPad and iPod app. Physicians use a checklist or text to enter symptoms, and Isabel searches its database of more than 6,000 disease presentations for a diagnosis. Results can be refined for age, gender and even travel history. Cost: $2.99 weekly, $10.99 monthly or $119.99 annually.
MedSpeak (by QxMD Software) Ever experienced a language barrier with a non-native English-speaking patient? A new wave of apps, such as MedSpeak, helps with translation. This iPhone app, for example, provides Mandarin or Cantonese translations (in both audio and written format) for more than 3,300 medical phrases. Content can be sorted by category or symptom. Cost: $9.99.
If you are looking for a mobile solution, we may have the perfect software or app for you. Please contact us today.
An electronic medical record (EMR) or practice management system is only the first step in bringing your practice into the modern era; you must also use the systems appropriately.
When it comes to software, functionality is important to health-providers—but if you're hung up on software functionality, you may not be taking care of what drives the software.
So, in many cases, you’ll need to review and adjust the processes used in your practice—but how? If you’re not familiar with practice management strategies, you may not know where to start.
A good IT firm or software provider will help by offering personalized attention. Look for a team of highly trained professionals who understand the intricacies of scheduling, coding, billing, and reporting. Ideally, this team should take the time to get to know your practice well by studying your scheduling and billing patterns, the way you engage patients, and the other ways you work.
While it may take more time up front, this methodology will allow your partner to develop insight, which will in turn let it provide guidance to help you do more with less—something that’s essential in today’s world of increased competition and decreased revenues.
Meaningful Use Stage 2 begins on January 1, 2014, and while many health-care providers have implemented electronic medical records (EMRs) in preparation, stumbling blocks exist. Here are three of them.
Getting patients to use portals. More than 50% of patients seen during the reporting period must receive timely online access to their health information, which means within four business days. Additionally, more than 5% of patients seen in that period must actually, "view, download, or transmit to a third party their health information."
Exchanging data. Health-care providers must provide a summary-of-care record for more than 50% of transitions of care and referrals, and for 10% of those transitions, the summary must be transmitted electronically. Moreover, at least one exchange must occur with a recipient who uses a different EMR. And, the data must be able to be generated in a specified format.
Creating medication and lab orders. More than 60% of medication orders and 30% of lab test orders must be done electronically, and test orders will involve new workflows in many practices.
While these three potential stumbling blocks may seem large, there is some good news: Stage 2 shouldn’t be burdensome for health-care providers who attested in Stage 1, as you’re essentially just demonstrating a higher level of use. If you are preparing for Stage 2, and are worried about potential challenges, contact us today to see how we can help make the tranistion smooth and worry free.
Congressional hearings on mobile health-care application regulation suggest the future is bright for this technology, say mHIMSS executives Tom Martin and David Collins.
The hearings, held March 19-21, considered the importance of allowing innovation to flourish vs. the importance of regulation for patient safety.
Discussed in the hearings were the dangers of strict FDA oversight and the potential threat of Obamacare taxes on apps—concerns that were dismissed by most witnesses.
According to Martin and Collins, "While a few developers are waiting on the FDA’s final medical app guidance before submitting apps to the market, many developers are bringing innovative products to market, and venture funding for healthcare startups is at an all time high."
Moreover, although a very small segment of the app marketplace could be subject to the excise tax on medical devices, most app categories would not, say Martin and Collins.
This likely gives app developers the confidence to bring new apps to the market, and that could lead to an explosion if mobile health-care technology.
A new report suggests that 2013 may be the year of the great electronic medical records (EMR) vendor switch given that many EMRS are falling short of providers' expectations.
To come to that conclusion, Black Book Rankings polled roughly 17,000 active EMR adopters - and found that as many as 17 percent may switch out their first-choice EHR by the end of the year.
The reason: In light of Stage 2, provider demands are increasing, and EMR users are reporting that many EMRs aren’t living up to expectations. In fact, those polled cited numerous cases of software firms underperforming badly enough to lead them to lose market share.
As a result, 31 percent of survey respondents indicated they were "dissatisfied enough" with their EMR to consider switching. Of those users, the reasons cited for the potential switch were as follows: The EMR did not meet the practice’s needs (80 percent); the practice had not adequately assessed its needs before choosing the EMR (79 percent); the EMR design did not fit the medical specialty (77 percent); and the EMR vendor was unresponsive to requests (44 percent).
One of the most asked for features in today’s electronic medical record (EMR) technology is a secure built-in messaging system. This is an important feature and many providers are integrating this feature. One project aims to make that easier, Direct Project.
When today’s health-care providers exchange information, they're likely sending paper through the mail or fax. But, a growing number of patients are asking for electronic communication, mainly email. Many clinics are happy to oblige, however, secure communications is important, because Meaningful Use Stage 2 requires a HIPAA-compliant secure messaging - HIPAA is the standard for protecting secure information in the health industry.
Yet, currently, many physicians who want to use secure messaging to communicate with patients may have to purchase a third-party vendor’s software to do so. This involves an additional service agreement as well as monthly fees. There is an option that your existing vendor may be able to use.
That option is the Direct Project. While not the only one out there, this is an interesting program. Its concept is simple: In the projects' own words, “Direct Project specifies a simple, secure, stable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet.”
Essentially, each provider has a direct address that he or she can use to send and receive messages. Because these messages are secure, they can be used to send patient information to colleagues who need it for care.
A number of existing products already support the Direct Project specifications and allow for the secure delivery of messages. Visit Who’s Fueling Direct? to see if your vendor is one of them.
More information is available here.