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EHR Certifying Bodies

Posted on June 30, 2010 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.

I found this interesting tidbit in the final rule for the EHR Temporary Certification Plan:

“In the Proposed Rule, we stated that we anticipated that there would be no more than 3 applicants for ONC-ATCB status. Based on the comments received, we now believe that there may be up to 5 applicants for ONC-ATCB status. In addition, we believe that up to 2 of these applicants will not have the level of preparedness that we originally estimated for all potential applicants for ONC-ATCB status.”

Interesting to hear that there are likely to be 5 applicants to certify EHR software. Of course, we know that 2 of those bodies are CCHIT and Drummond Group. I also know of one other, but I’m traveling and so I can’t look up the name. Although, I only know this other one based on a conversation. I’ve never seen anything in print.

That leaves a couple other possible EHR certifying organizations. Does anyone know who else is interested?

EMR Challenges Faced by RECs

Posted on June 29, 2010 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.

I’ve been meaning to write a post linking to BobbyG’s blog for a while and just never got around to it. If you follow the comments on here, you’ll have seen many of BobbyG’s comments as well. The thing that first struck me about Bobby was his sincere and thoughtful comments on the challenges that the RECs face. Here’s some of his thoughts on REC Challenges:

  • Critics bemoan a lack of prior HIT deployment and QI experience among some REC awardees (as well as the heterogeneity of business models);
  • While 60 REC contracts have thus far been awarded, with the newly chartered RECs frantically ramping up to meet the rather compressed Stage One Meaningful Use incentive payment timelines, both the requisite Meaningful Use reporting criteria and the EHR (Electronic Health Record) certification regulations remain unresolved at this writing. The cart is seriously out in front of the horses in many respects;
  • The anticipated huge and short time-frame new demand for HIT installs may well overwhelm the capacity of HIT vendors, resulting in lengthy, problematic implementation queues (not to mention a severe shortage of qualified installation, training, and support personnel);
  • Notwithstanding that HHS is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on REC contracts, physicians and hospitals are not required to engage REC services in order to qualify for federal incentive payments. Consequently, RECs are having to spend significant time and money hawking their services (the polite term being “enrollment.” I did not know when I signed on that I would be required to do what amounts to hastily and minimally trained cold-call sales). Moreover, REC services are not fully subsidized, the upshot of which is often skeptical “we’ll pass” pushback, especially in light of the hyperbolic claims of virtually all major EHR vendors “guaranteeing” that their products will get the provider to MU (with the glossed-over disclaimer, well down in the fine print”When Used As Directed”);
    • At this writing, the aggregate Final Rule for MU criteria is still under HHS consideration, with myriad professional stakeholder groups arguing for relaxation of both the compressed compliance timelines and the all-or-nothing approach, countered by a broad array of equally vocal consumer/patient advocacy organizations arguing for MU criteria adoption “as-is” as set forth in the Interim Final Rule.

      I would have added another MU criterion: requireworking with the RECs as a condition of incentive money eligibility;

  • The relatively sparse per-provider federal REC funding may force the RECs to focus simply on assisting their client physicians with hitting the MU criteria in pursuit of the incentive reimbursements — to the practical exclusion of broader and more sustainable, internalized quality improvement efforts;
  • There is to be a “Health IT Research Center” funded by HHS and intended to gather relevant information on effective practices from a wide variety of sources across the country and help the Regional Extension Centers (RECs) collaborate with one another and with relevant stakeholders to identify and share best practices in EHR adoption, effective use, and provider support. The HITRC will build a virtual community of shared learning to advance best practices that support providers’ adoption and meaningful use of EHRs.”

    It is not even slated to be up and running until FY2012.

I think most of these points hit the nail on the head. RECs are in for some major challenges. It will be interesting to watch those that creatively confront those challenges and those that fold under the pressure of it all. I still stand by my opinion that they could be a tremendous force for good or bad. Considering there are so many RECs all over the US, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of both types.

Will Meaningful Use be Relaxed?

Posted on June 28, 2010 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.

After my post on EMR and EHR about Relaxing of the Meaningful Use rule, I thought it would be interesting to do a quick poll on what people think will happen with the Meaningful Use rule. Should be an interesting result:

Private Payers and Meaningful Use

Posted on June 25, 2010 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.

Is it time for Private Payers to join in on Meaningful Use? A number of people are starting to ask this question after CSC released a recent white paper called “Meaningful Use for Health Plans: Five Things to Consider.” I’ve always said that private payers adopting meaningful use would be a HUGE deal and would likely sway many doctors who are on the fence. The question is, will private payers adopt meaningful use?

An article in the American Medical News says they will:

Private insurers are latching onto the government’s meaningful use definition to bolster their own efforts to promote EMR use and possibly impose their own financial penalties for nonuse among contracted physicians, according to the author of a new study looking at the challenges physicians face with meeting meaningful use.

Neil Versel in his story on Fierce Health IT quotes the more reasoned opinion:

“At minimum, plans should use this as an opportunity to reformulate and realign existing pay-for-performance incentives with health IT implementation and meaningful use deadlines,” CSC says. “Minimizing differences between plan-sponsored incentive programs and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid-sponsored programs will also serve to simplify compliance and achievement, for provider organizations.”

Neil also ends with this little zinger, “Those statements are long overdue. Private payers, it’s time to ante up for the quality game.”

My personal feeling is that insurance plans won’t be adopting the meaningful use objectives. That’s not to say that they aren’t or won’t “ante up for the quality game” since healthcare quality could be great for insurers. However, I think it’s a stretch to call the meaningful use objectives a healthcare quality initiative. Maybe that’s the intent, but I think it misses those goals.

The bigger reason why I believe private payers won’t adopt meaningful use is there’s far too much kick back from doctors. Insurers do an interesting dance with doctors and I think that insurance plans won’t want to deal with all the angry doctors if they force meaningful use upon them. Plus, the case that meaningful use actually will provide benefits to private payers is a murky grey with little solid foundation.

Private payers do want doctors using EMR. They do want standards for communication. They do want EMR initiatives to work and quality of care to increase. However, I’ll be surprised if they choose to latch on to meaningful use to achieve these goals. If they do, then meaningful use as means of getting the EHR stimulus will be an afterthought.

The Falling Chart – Another Case for EMR

Posted on June 24, 2010 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.

Sometimes when we think about EMR, I think we forget about the subtle nuances of paper charts that make them so undesirable. Check out this story which I got in response to my post called “Think About the Problems with Paper Charting.” It’s a a good illustration of some of the more simple things we often forget about:

I was recently visiting a relative at a major teaching hospital in the Midwest. While in the hall I noticed that they had charts in binders stored in boxes affixed to the wall. Just as I was wondering why such a prestigious institution relied on paper charts a nurse went to re-insert a chart into its box. She was in a hurry and missed, the chart dropped to the floor and binder opened and paper went all over the hall. What was even more surreal was the nurse did not at fist notice her mistake and was at leas 6 feet away before she noticed it and fixed her error.

Sometimes it’s not what you get from an EMR, but what you don’t get that matters.

ARRA Q&A: Are imaging costs recoupable under the HITECH act?

Posted on June 23, 2010 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.

Corey sent me the following question:

Are imaging costs recoupable under the HITECH act?

Corey,
There are 2 major sections to receive stimulus money from the HITECH act. One is through Medicare and the other is through Medicaid. The Medicare related stimulus money doesn’t have any provisions on how you use the money you receive. It is paid out as a bonus on your Medicare reimbursement. So, you could use the EMR stimulus money that’s paid out through Medicare for anything you want, including imaging costs.

Medicaid on the other hand has to be for qualified expenses (or some similar term like that). I personally haven’t seen any details on what HHS will consider an expense that can qualify for the stimulus money. Plus, I won’t be surprised if each state has different definitions of what expenses will qualify under Medicaid. I have mixed feelings on whether imaging costs will be covered by the Medicaid section of the HITECH act. I guess I could see it going either way. If I’ve missed where this is specified, please let me know in the comments.

Check out the previous EMR and HIPAA EHR Stimulus Question and Answers and please send us other questions you might have in the comments.

EMR Question and Answer: Domain Controlled Networks

Posted on June 22, 2010 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.

I got the following question from Brandon about the need to have a domain controlled network in order to comply with HIPAA.

I am currently trying to implement an EMR system in a small practice. I am trying to convince the parties involved that it is necessary to transition to a domain controlled network for security reasons even though this type of network is not required for our EMR system or its server. My understanding of HIPAA is that simply having a firewall does not qualify as a “secured network”. Am I right on this?

Brandon,
You are correct that just having a firewall does not likely qualify as a “secured network.” However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a domain controlled network to meet the HIPAA security standards. You could still manually apply the domain security policies on to individual computers and achieve the same level of security.

Of course, the key word in that statement is the word “manually.” If you have less than 10 computers, then this probably isn’t a huge deal and can be done manually. Once you pass 10 computers (or somewhere in that range) you probably want to consider using active directory to manage the security policies on your computers. It’s much easier to apply policies on a large number of computers using active directory. Plus, you can know that the policy was applied consistently across your network.

You also shouldn’t ignore the other benefits of a domain controlled network. I’ve written previously about the benefits of things like shared drives as a nice companion to an EMR. Active Directory makes adding these shared drives trivial. It’s also a nice benefit to have a universal login that’s managed by the domain and can work on every computer in the office.

Plus, if your EMR runs on SQL Server and you buy a nice but inexpensive server with Windows Small Business Server, then you already have the software for active directory. So, it’s really an easy decision to use it. I’ve implemented it at a site with 5 computers and it’s been a great thing to have even if it’s a bit of overkill.

HHS Says Certified EHR Available in Fall 2010

Posted on June 21, 2010 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.

Well, it always seems to happen when I go out of town on vacation that HHS finally decides to go to work and make some announcements. The final rule for the Temporary EHR certification rule is out and will be published to the Federal Register on June 24th. It’s non-final format is available at the Federal Register’s Public Inspection Desk. Does anyone else kind of squirm when they read about this final rule for a temporary EHR certification. Final and temporary just don’t sound right together, but that’s what we have.

The Healthcare IT Guy attended an HHS ONC press conference and added a nice little summary of what was said:

*As of today if you’re interested in being a certification body you must request the HHS Certifying Body application in writing
*On July 1 ONC will start accepting applications
*By the “end of the summer” (HHS’s words) there will be one or more certifying bodies open for business (accepting products)
*By “this fall” (again, their words) there will be fully HHS certified products available

One important clarification was made by ONC — there is no grandfathering in CCHIT or previously certified products. Everybody is going to be re certified using the new NIST rules. This means that if you have even 2011 CCHIT certification now it won’t mean anything, you have to go through the process again. CCHIT is offering their “ARRA Interim Certification” but beware — the rules say that you have to follow the NIST plans, not what CCHIT developed. So, if you have the ARRA Interim Certification you may not have pay again but you still will be required to change your software to meet the HHS/NIST test plans and requirements.

Nothing that’s all that newsworthy, except it’s nice to finally have a little bit more solid timeline for when there will be some ARRA EHR certification bodies.

I think that Shahid’s analysis of the now meaningless 2011 CCHIT certification is spot on as well. Although, I’m sure we’ll still see quite a few EMR vendors using the marketing power of the CCHIT certification on unsuspecting clinics who don’t know the difference.

Yes, it does also mean that clinics will have to wait until Fall of 2010 (or later) before they’ll really know if an EHR will be a certified EHR or not. Of course, I’ll be very surprised if less than 98% of EMR vendors don’t become ARRA certified.

EMR on Twitter

Posted on June 20, 2010 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.

I imagine that many of my readers use Twitter to find EMR information. Twitter is an interesting beast. It takes a little getting used to, but can be used in a whole number of ways. However, what people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be on Twitter and have a Twitter account to enjoy many of the benefits of Twitter.

I especially like Twitter during conferences. For example, during the HIMSS 2010 conference I would just search for the tag HIMSS2010 and found all sorts of interesting information about what was happening at HIMSS. Here’s a simple search for people talking about EMR on Twitter.

I think one of the main uses of Twitter is a way to share some of my favorite EMR links. I use this EHR and HIT twitter account to do that for some of my favorite bloggers. It’s also fun to see people’s reactions to the various items I post on that account. I guess people like what I’ve done since that account has 4232 followers of it.

At the end of the day, Twitter for me is a way for me to connect with lots of interesting people. Tomorrow, I’m going to lunch with a local CPA and blogger that I met on Twitter. It’s timely, since I’ve been looking around for a CPA. So, we’ll share lunch, I’ll teach him about blogging and we’ll see if his CPA services are a good fit for my needs.

Beyond that I’ve connected with so many people on Twitter. I’ve gotten free tickets to shows in Las Vegas. I’ve gotten free graphic design work. I’ve seen some of the latest breaking news before CNN and the likes are broadcasting it. I’ve found side work on Twitter. Plus, I’ve gotten hundreds of questions answered by my smart twitter friends.

Obviously, I’m a pretty big fan of Twitter. In fact, many of you likely found this blog through Twitter. I love Twitter because it can be used in so many ways. How do you use Twitter?

Also, if you want to connect to my personal twitter account (which also does quite a bit of EMR related content), I’m @techguy.

Meaning of KLAS Results

Posted on June 18, 2010 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.

I’ve had this post in the hopper since HIMSS back in early March. Unfortunately, it got lost in my other 200 or so draft posts that I work from for future posts. We’ll see if people think I should have left the idea in my drafts or not.

During one my meetings with EMR vendors I discussed the value of KLAS and why this EMR vendor was so HIGH on CCHIT (they’re booth had it plastered all over) and why they chose not to have KLAS ratings plastered beside their CCHIT marketing plan. This really smart EMR vendor marketing manager had previously described the marketing value (note that I didn’t say technical or clinical value) of having the CCHIT certification. So, why not KLAS?

This EMR vendor had obviously done their homework and had considered getting the KLAS rating. The reason they didn’t go that direction was he asked an interesting question of KLAS. He wanted to know how many people actually went to KLAS and downloaded the ratings from their website. Obviously, if they had hundreds of thousands of doctors downloading the ratings from their website, then it could be a great marketing tool for the EMR vendor to sell more product.

Turns out only 5000 people actually downloaded the KLAS ratings. When you add in the EMR vendors and other people who don’t purchase an EMR, that’s such a small footprint. I’ll admit that I’ve seen the KLAS name around a lot of places, but I’ve seen it less and less lately. Does anyone care about KLAS anymore? I’m going to Utah later this month. Maybe I should stop in and say Hi. Seems like there’s such an opportunity in the EMR space right now and they might be missing out.