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Meaningful Use Grants Still Available for Illinois Health Providers

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 6, 2013 7:25:00 PM

Meaningful Use Support"It felt like someone threw us a life preserver."

Registering and attesting for Meaningful Use can be an intimidating and exhausting experience. But with the right help, support and relief is well within reach.

Are you a primary care physician who has implemented an EMR but has not yet met Meaningful Use?

Are you interested in attesting for the Medicare or Medicaid incentive dollars in the next 6 months?

Do you practice in any of the following Illinois counties:

  • Cook (outside of Chicago)
  • DuPage
  • Kankakee
  • Lake
  • Will

If you answered "yes" to all three questions, you may be eligible for grant dollars that would assist you with Meaningful Use implementation and attestation.

If you're not eligible, and know someone who might be, please forward this email on to them.

The regional extension center, IL-HITREC, has a few slots available for Meaningful Use assistance for providers that qualify. This is a matched grant, so for less than $1,000, you could receive support that would lead to attestation and ultimately, the incentive payment up to $21,250 for Medicaid and up to $18,000 for Medicare.

Health Directions has been working with IL-HITREC for over a year and has attested more than 150 providers who subsequently received payment.

If you are interested in learning more, please click the button below to complete a short form to share your contact information--or--contact Sole Prete in our office at 312-218-2929.

Please act now. This is time sensitive as they are trying to fill the limited slots within the next 10 days. 

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Records, Electronic Medical Records, CMS, HIT, CMS Incentive Payments

Deadline Approaching for 2012 EHR Incentive Reporting Year

Posted by Matthew Smith on Dec 27, 2012 3:43:00 PM

Meaningful UseThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reminding eligible providers (EPs) that the reporting year for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs for 2012 will end on Monday, December 31.

CMS says that means “(EPs) must have completed their 90 or 365-day reporting period (within the calendar year) by the end of 2012 in order to receive an incentive payment.” And CMS is stressing that “Medicare EPs must complete attestation for the 2012 program year by February 28, 2013, but can attest as soon as their reporting period is complete.”

The attestation deadline for the Medicaid EHR incentives program in Georgia is March 1, 2013.

Topics: EHR, EMR, Electronic Medical Records, CMS, HIT, Health IT, HealthIT, Health Care, CMS Incentive Payments

38% of Surveyed Docs Say They are Unhappy with Current EMR

Posted by Matthew Smith on Dec 5, 2012 4:14:00 PM

Electronic Health RecordsThis story is part of a reporting partnership that includes Colorado Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge. One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape this summer 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

Dr. Mary Wilkerson is one of those doctors. Her small family practice in Denver made the leap to an electronic health record five years ago, with some pretty high expectations.

"We were told by sales people that we would make more money, because we'd be more efficient, and you'd be able to see more patients," says Wilkerson. "We'd be able to bill faster, get the money in the bank at the push of a button. And none of that panned out."

Instead, Wilkerson's practice found that electronic records actually slowed things down, and the doctors could see fewer patients.

"Within six months of our purchase, one of the partners just did not like it at all, did not like dealing with the computer, and actually left the practice, and we’d hoped she’d contribute to the loan that we'd taken out" to pay for the electronic system, says Wilkerson.

Wilkerson's problems with the system are a stark contrast to the experience of other doctors who have embraced electronic records and patients who have good reviews of them, too.

EHRsatisfaction

Source: Medscape EHR Report 2012

Marina Blake of Denver is one of those patients. Blake uses a lot of health care, and she likes that the specialists she sees can all call up the same health record that her primary care doctor uses. She can also call up her own record anytime.

"It does add definitely a layer of customer service to my experience that is really awesome," says Blake, who belongs to a large health care system that uses electronic records.  "For me it’s part of being an educated consumer. If I have more information, then I can ask better questions."

The federal government wants every patient to see the same benefits from electronic records Blake does. It’s offering doctors and hospitals up to $63,000 per physician to go digital. 

But Wilkerson’s practice didn't get much government money, because payments to go digital are tied to seeing a lot of Medicare patients, which Wilkerson and her partners didn’t do. They took out a loan because it’s common for physicians to pay $10,000 or more each for digital records systems. So losing income from not being able to see as many patients was hard on Wilkerson's practice. The expense and the hassle was part of the reason that she and her partners ultimately decided to sell their practice.

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Source: Medscape EHR Report 2012

The American Academy of Family Physicians supports the switch to digital but acknowledges that it has been difficult for many doctors.

"Right now we’re in a transitional time. Transitional times are tough," says Dr. Jeff Cain, president of AAFP.

Cain says electronic records improve care, and notes that Medicare will start cutting payments to doctors who haven’t gone digital starting in 2015. He’s somewhat critical of the government’s strategy.

"The challenge for the family doctor with the carrot-and-stick approach Medicare’s using is, the carrot’s kind of hard to get to," says Cain.

For its part, Medicare is now worried that part of the digital efficiency it's encouraging is also making it easier for doctors to generate bills, and charge it too much. Doctors say it should be no surprise that systems designed to catch things like medication errors are also catching missed opportunities to get paid.

That unanticipated argument over billing is playing out as federal payments begin to ramp down. They’re being offered until 2021, but the amount available gets smaller every year.

This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes Colorado Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Records, Electronic Medical Records, Medicare, HIT, Health IT, HealthIT, Coordinated Care, IT, Medical Records, CMS Incentive Payments

CMS Releases Corrections for Stage 2 Meaningful Use Final Rule

Posted by Matthew Smith on Oct 23, 2012 8:49:00 PM

CMS, EHR, Meaningful UseYesterday, CMS published a 10-page document in the Federal Register, which provides some minor corrections to the Stage 2 Meaningful Use Final Rule for the EHR Incentive Programs. The Stage 2 Final Rule was originally published on September 4, 2012, and provides new criteria that eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals must meet to successfully participate in the EHR Incentive Programs.

The corrections can also be accessed from a link on the EHR Incentive Programs Stage 2 webpage.

Make sure you are prepared for Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs by visiting the Stage 2 webpage of the EHR Incentive Programs website. Resources include helpful tipsheets that explain meaningful use changes in Stage 2.

Topics: EHR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Records, CMS, Meaningful Use Attestation, CMS Incentive Payments

EHR Meaningful Use Incentive Payments Near $7 Billion

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 11, 2012 11:13:00 AM

EHR, EMR, Electronic Health RecordsMedicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments are approaching $7 billion since its inception, with $6.9 billion paid out to 143,800 physicians and hospitals in total program estimates through the end of August.

In August, the agency paid about $500 million in incentives, with about $325 million going to Medicare providers and $175 million to Medicaid providers, “which will bring us knocking on the door of $7 billion in incentive payments issued as of the end of last month,” said Robert Anthony, a specialist in CMS’ Office of eHealth Standards and Services. 

In July, the totals were $6.6 billion since the program’s start paid to 132,511 eligible providers.

As of July, nearly 1 out of every 5 Medicare eligible provider, or about 18% are meaningful users of EHRs, he said. Additionally, 1 out of every 4 Medicare and Medicaid eligible providers has made a financial commitment to an EHR, he said. And 55% of eligible hospitals have received an EHR incentive payment for meaningful use.

As of July, 271,105 Medicare and Medicaid physicians and hospitals have registered to participate in the incentive program, tracking at about 10,300 monthly, he said. Breaking down the total, that’s 180,513 Medicare physicians, 86,708 Medicaid clinicians and 3,884 hospitals.

Even as more physicians and hospitals participate in the incentive program, nothing has changed related to their level of performance in the attestation data, Anthony said.

“The longer we go saying that not much has changed, the more encouraging that trend actually is because it is an indication that more and more providers are coming in, yet everybody is performing at a statistically high level,” he said.

Providers tend to exceed the required threshold of performance for recording objectives for problem list, medications list or medication-allergy list. And there is little difference in performance among physicians and hospitals, Anthony said.

“As we move into August, we’re no longer looking at just the early adopters, we’re looking at people who may still be in their first year of meaningful use, but they’re not necessarily the people who are at the beginning of the curve. Yet we continue to see very high performance across the board on all the objectives,” he said.

“We will be better informed when we have people returning later in 2012, and we can do a comparison of meaningful use in a second full-year period vs. a 90-day period,” Anthony noted.

Besides the required measures, the most popular menu objectives to attest to are advance directives, drug formulary and clinical lab test results for hospitals; and drug formulary, immunization registry and patient lists for physicians. The least popular measure is the transitions of care summaries for both.

Topics: EHR, EMR, Meaningful Use, Electronic Health Records, Electronic Medical Records, CMS, CMS Incentive Payments

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