There’s a big gap between what physicians thought they could do, and what they were eligible to do, to collect meaningful use incentives last year, according to a new study, which appears in the May issue of Health Affairs.
The study shows that 91 percent of physicians nationwide were eligible for federal electronic medical record (EMR) incentives in 2011. However, only 10 percent intended to apply for the program.
That number was on the low side of what the federal government had anticipated. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services had estimated that 10 percent to 36 percent of Medicare-eligible professionals and 15 percent to 47 percent of Medicaid-eligible professionals would demonstrate meaningful use in 2011.
According to the authors, among physicians intending to apply for meaningful use, about 21 percent were ready with the 10 core capabilities. Even in the state with the highest degree of readiness - Wisconsin - only 32 percent of physicians were ready with the 10 core capabilities.
The authors say the low level of readiness illustrates the challenges in meeting the federal schedule for financial incentives. Healthcare practices have support options, however. Your IT provider can help you if you need assistance preparing your meaningful use.
With the adaptation of Stage 2, companies operating in the electronic medical records will shift their focus from the capture to exchange of health information. One industry insider has recommended 10 things your EMR needs to be truly interoperable.
- Single sign-on (SSO). Applications tend to proliferate, and if you don't allow people to switch between these applications using a common login and password, users will get frustrated and give up.
- Context transitions. As applications grow, and you need to integrate them into an EMR, SSO won’t be enough, because you’ll still lose the “active patient or task" being performed. You’ll also need to provide for the transition of context between applications.
- Widget publishing. EHRs often have hundreds of functions, and if some are exportable or publishable as widgets, they become much easier to integrate into new user interfaces in the future.
- Widget consumption. EMRs will become more like containers of cross-application functionality than innate functionality, so consuming widgets will be a basic requirement.
- Mash-ups. EMRs should allow access to their content through the content management interoperability services (CMIS) standard, thereby allowing users to unlock content they have in various health records.
- Customizable dashboards. EMRs should provide dashboards that can be tailored by organization, user role, or even user.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR). IVR, which allows an EMR to interact with users through phones and other voice systems, such as Skype, will improve collaboration with patients and other physicians who aren’t at a computer.
- Voice recognition. This will help users conduct EMR tasks more efficiently.
- Natural language understanding. Because most EMR data is entered by humans, an EMR must integrate with systems that can convert the spoken word or typed text to structured data.
- Customizable data import and export. A good EMR must allow customizable importing and exporting of simple lists in common formats, such as Excel, CSV and XML.
Most medical practices that implement Electronic Medical Records / Electronic Health Records (EMR / EHR) see a significant financial return on investment (ROI). Here are five ways that happens: You can see more patients; you’ll reduce missed appointments; your claims processing will be more efficient; you’ll spend less on hard technology costs; and you’ll improve reimbursements. Below we discuss each in more detail.
You can see more patients. Once you’ve implemented an EMR and established good work flows, you’ll spend less time documenting, allowing you more time to see more patients.
You’ll reduce missed appointments. Cancelations and no-shows are key performance indicators. An EMR can reduce them by issuing appointment reminders, and a reduction in missed appointments can improve your bottom line.
Your claims processing will be more efficient. Once you’ve implemented an EMR, you’ll spend less time filing, faxing, and retrieving charts and moving documents, which will allow claims to be processed faster.
You’ll spend less on hard technology costs. Once you’ve implemented an EMR, your technology will be centralized, so you’ll make fewer ad hoc purchases. Moreover, if your EMR / EHR is cloud-based, you’ll spend less on equipment overall.
You’ll improve reimbursements. Many EMRs have alerts that make sure you’re using the correct document to satisfy reimbursement requirements—and improved legibility is a bonus.
Wondering what the most-discussed health care IT topics were in 2011—and what they'll likely be in 2012? ID Experts compiled expert opinions and found them to be much the same: mobile devices, patient privacy rights, and data breaches. Below are several of the items from ID Experts’ top 10 list, and additional items and details are available here.
- Mobile devices could create problems due to data breach risks—because while 81 percent of health care providers use mobile devices to collect, store, and transmit secure information, only 49 percent secure the devices.
- Class-action lawsuits will rise as patients sue health care providers for failing to secure their personal information, creating significant risks and increasing costs for organizations affected by these lawsuits.
- As more health care providers use social media, the exposure of personal information will increase, forcing health care providers to develop social media plans to prevent employees exposing patient information through personal social networking sites.
- Economic realities will force health care providers to outsource many functions including billing to third parties and business associates, and that will create weak links in data privacy and security.
- The use of mobile devices—tablets and smartphones—will continue to grow in the industry, meaning health care providers will need to balance usability with security.