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Dr. Lynn Ho Interview – Micropractice Working Towards Meaningful Use

Posted on August 10, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This is the next in a series of EMR and EHR interviews that will be done on EMR and HIPAA and EMR and EHR. The full EMR interview with Dr. Ho can be found on the new EHR and EMR interviews website. The following is a summary of that interview written by Kathy Bongiovi.

After completing a family practice residency at the University of Rochester in 1989, Dr. Ho worked in a variety of settings before making her decision to open her no-staff “micropractice” in 2004. Ho defines micropractice as being “a small, low overhead, no staff, hightech-high touch practice.” Because Ho believes the current financing model of delivering primary care by cranking up the volume of visits in order to meet overhead and salary is broken she wanted to move to a model that would be better for patients and give her more professional satisfaction.

Ho realized that one of the keys to running a successful micropractice is maintaining a low overhead. Her overhead is 25-30% of gross collections instead of the typical 60% that arises from paying staff salaries and for multiple work stations.

Amazing Charts was her choice of EHR and she has found the company very responsive to user requests. All of the software pieces needed to integrate well with her EMR, both via formal interfaces and in her informal workflow.

Ho has been able to make her office completely “paperless.” She accomplished this by having all patients send her their clinical histories using Instant Medical History from her website. She also has all new patients sign a laminated “HIPAA consent, for both billing and emailing, with one signature. Then she scans the page along with a copy of their insurance card to a file. She erases the patient’s information from the laminated sheet and reuses it for the next patient. She uses EDI interfaces for most labs and some x-rays and consults. Most consultants fax her their information electronically.

Dr. Ho had no formal training in using a computer and, in fact, had only used a Mac for accessing her email prior to opening her practice in 2004. She felt that with a laptop, an all-in-one, an internet connection and an EHR as the centerpiece of her technology stable, she was set for life. She was unaware of what her technology configuration would evolve into and she became mindful of just how many of her devices would have to successfully interact to properly implement the EHR system. As of the writing of this article she was in the process of attesting for Meaningful Use and was on course to achieving MU within three months of starting the process.

She updated her EHR to the latest version (Amazing Charts version 6) in order to use the “wizards” that would count the necessary data. Ho commented that it was taking only 2-5 minutes more, per encounter, to include the required documentation. Although she would prefer not to have to spend the extra time filling in the boxes, Ho did admit the MU wizard in her EMR makes it rather simple and not too painful to collect the necessary data.

She had the following thoughts on whether MU certification is proper for any given practice. “If you are already leveraging your EMR to help you in your practice in a meaningful way, then depending on your Medicare/Medicaid revenues/patient mix, it may be worth it to apply”. She felt the questions to be asked “are the monies received – or the penalty that you would incur, worth the time it will take you to: 1)learn about the MU program, 2) learn how to use the MU features of the EMR, and 3) actually do the documentation?” She also feels that a provider needs to consider his or her payor mix and practice volume. However, if a provider doesn’t use the EMR to collect demographic data or to E-prescribe, there will be additional work to adopt these processes into one’s workflow.

Dr. Ho feels that attestation is not proper for everyone. Smaller practices with very tight profit margins which lack breathing room may not be able to succeed because the benefits of certification may be outweighed by the efforts necessary to becoming schooled in MU deployment.

Read the full transcript of Dr. Ho’s EMR and Meaningful Use interview.

Meaningful Use Measures: CPOE – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on April 25, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

CPOE (Computerized Provider Order Entry), is the direct entering of orders into a computer (or mobile device), so that the order is documented in a digital, structured, and computable format.

Meaningful Use Core Measure: CPOE
More than 30% of unique patients with at least one medication in their medication list seen by the EP have at least one medication order entered using CPOE.
Exclusion: providers who write fewer than 100 prescriptions during the reporting period.

CPOE is one of the measures that elicited quite an animated response from the provider community. When initially proposed, this measure required 80% of all orders to be directly entered by the provider. To overcome objections to the scope of the requirement and the burden it would impose, CMS ultimately limited the measure to medication orders and reduced the threshold to 30%. (The proposal for Stage 2 reinstitutes lab and radiology orders, but the requirements have not yet been finalized.)

There was also a great deal of conversation about who has to enter the order into the EHR—does it have to be the authorizing physician him/herself? This is the only measure in the Final Rule in which CMS addresses who can perform the function, identifying “…any licensed healthcare professional who can enter orders into the medical record per state, local and professional guidelines.” While some providers are unsure about where these specific guidelines can be found, CMS does provide further guidance, stating that CPOE should be done by someone who can exercise clinical judgment and take action based on the alerts and/or clinical decision support information that the order might generate.

Because for now CPOE is limited to medication orders, it is accomplished either in the course of ePrescribing or by using the same workflow but not transmitting the prescription electronically, (e.g., when prescribing controlled substances or prescribing for patients who request a printed prescription.) All of these prescriptions count in the numerator of this meaningful use measure because they are entered into the EHR.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Meaningful Use Measures: ePrescribing – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on April 18, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

I hope that by now, readers have heeded the advice I gave in a previous post, “No Matter What Else You Do in 2011, You’ve Got to ePrescribe” and are covering their bases regarding ePrescribing under MIPPA. Even though providers can’t collect a meaningful use incentive (as a Medicare participant) during the same year that they earn an ePrescribing incentive, having the ePrescribing workflow in place for MIPPA purposes will prepare them well for meaningful use.

Meaningful Use Core Measure: ePrescribing

More than 40% of all permissible prescriptions written by the EP are transmitted electronically using certified EHR technology.

This is a core, i.e., required, measure that can only be excluded by an EP who writes fewer than 100 prescriptions during the reporting period and attests to that number of prescriptions. A continuing ePrescribing challenge faced by some specialists is the inability to ePrescribe Schedule II-V drugs. CMS took that issue off the table—at least for the purposes of meaningful use—by limiting the calculation to “permissible prescriptions.” (The definition of “permissible” excludes controlled substances because it is based on the rules that were in place in January 2010, when the Final Rule on Meaningful Use was published.)

The good news about the ePrescribing measure is that in the course of satisfying this one measure, providers will be simultaneously addressing 4-5 other measures—CPOE, maintaining a medication list, drug-to-drug and drug-allergy checks, and the menu measure requiring implementation of a drug formulary. Of this list, those that require more than simply “enabling the functionality” will be the topics of future Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Important notes about MIPPA and EHR Incentives:

  • It is possible to be deemed a successful ePrescriber in one program, but not the other, because the two programs have different specifications, so make sure to understand the rules for each.
  • If you choose to pursue the EHR incentives rather than the ePrescribing incentives this year, you must still continue to comply with the MIPPA requirements, (i.e., use the G-Code), to avoid 2012 and 2013 penalties.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Meaningful Use Monday – Follow-up on ePrescribing

Posted on February 28, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

The last Meaningful Use Monday post detoured from the EHR incentives to ePrescribing under MIPPA—given its importance based on the impending schedule of penalties. Because I receive ePrescribing questions on a daily basis, I thought a quick recap of ePrescribing basics might be helpful:

  • Incentives and penalties:
Year Incentives* Penalties*
2011 1%
2012 1% 1%**
2013 0.5% 1.5%**
2014 on 2%

*Percent of provider’s total Medicare Part B FFS Allowable Charges. (Incentives assume provider does not receive EHR incentive for that year.)

**Based on 2011 ePrescribing activity

  • Incentives are earned per provider, and each provider must individually meet the requirements. This means that some providers within a practice might qualify for an incentive, while others might incur a penalty. (Group reporting options exist, but they are limited and require qualification.)
  • Reporting is by G-Code and there is only one: Use G-8553 on the Medicare claim to report that “at least one Rx was generated and transmitted using a qualified ePrescribing system during the patient encounter.”
  • Surescripts certification qualifies an ePrescribing system. (This is distinct from the ONC-certification required for meaningful use.)
  • Provider eligibility:
    • MD, NP, or PA with prescribing authority
    • At least 100 encounters with the specified CPT codes
    • Specified CPT codes must constitute at least 10% of the provider’s Medicare charges.
  • To request exemption from penalties, use the following G-Codes on one Medicare claim before June 30, 2011:
    • Hardship Code G-8642: Rural area with limited high-speed internet access
    • Hardship Code G-8643: Limited pharmacies for ePrescribing
    • G-8664: Although an eligible provider, you do not have prescribing privileges

In a future post, Meaningful Use Monday will look at ePrescribing in the context of meaningful use.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EMR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Meaningful Use Mondays – ePrescribing Penalties and MIPPA

Posted on February 14, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

No Matter What Else You Do in 2011, You’ve Got to ePrescribe

With all of the focus on meeting meaningful use, the requirements related to ePrescribing under the Medicare MIPPA program seem to be getting lost in the shuffle. Just as some practices didn’t get the message about the 2010 change in ePrescribing G-codes until late in the year, I am hearing that the communication hasn’t reached everyone about the importance of ePrescribing in 2011; so I thought I would post a reminder:

2011 ePrescribing activity will be the basis for the 2012 and 2013 ePrescribing Medicare penalties (AKA “adjustments”) under MIPPA. If you are not already ePrescribing, it’s important to start very soon. The following are the rules:

  • ePrescribe on 10 Medicare encounters between now and June 30, 2011 to avoid a 1% reduction in 2012 Medicare rates.
  • ePrescribe on 25 Medicare encounters between now and December 31, 2011 to avoid a 1.5% adjustment in 2013.
  • By ePrescribing 25 times, you can also earn the 1% ePrescribing incentive in 2011.

Note, however, that the legislation does not allow providers to collect both the ePrescribing and EHR incentives (as a Medicare provider) in the same year, so you must make a choice: Collect the MIPPA incentive in 2011 and start pursuing meaningful use in 2012—a strategy discussed by Evan Steele in EMR Straight Talk—or forego the MIPPA incentive in 2011 and attest to meaningful use in 2011. In either case, you must continue to comply with MIPPA requirements to avoid the future penalties associated with that program.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EMR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.