How to Shop for an EHR
Many providers are bewildered when searching for an Electronic Health Record (EHR). With over 1,100 certified products, it can certainly be a daunting task. However, the process doesn’t have to be arduous. Following these five simple steps can cut down your frustration and speed up your search.
First, figure out the problems you are trying to solve. Are there work flow issues you want to improve? Are you spending too much time chasing paper? Do you simply want to cash in on Meaningful Use? Once you identify the problem, create a list of needs and wants that will provide the solution.
Additionally, develop a realistic budget. You may have to edit your list of wants and needs based on your budget. Prices fluctuate, but understand that most certified EHR systems will be in the neighborhood of $200 - $500 per month depending on feature set and whether or not they include billing. Client-server systems are generally more cost effective in the long run, but they should be competitive with web-based systems in terms of monthly payments if you finance.
Second, make a short list of products that meet your needs. This in itself may be time consuming, so it helps to consult a third party like Software Advice. EHR search consultants like Software Advice know many products and can help you zero in on four or five that will best fit your practice. Again, consider your budget. Ask for a general ballpark price early on. If a product is not in your general ballpark, strike it from your list.
Third, view demonstrations of your chosen products. Be sure to have your list of needs and wants from step one handy. Many demonstrations are scripted, so be sure to chime in with questions or comments. You may need to schedule a second demonstration, or even ask for references.
Fourth, evaluate the products you’ve demoed based on your criteria. No product is perfect, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. It is tempting to fixate on price, but this can be a big mistake. The low-cost vendor isn’t always a good idea; instead focus on the product that incorporates as many of your needs and wants as possible.
Finally, select one or two and solicit proposals. Understand that most vendors have some wiggle room in their prices. The biggest mistake you can make is to walk away from an otherwise great product just because of the price. If you like the software, make a counter offer on price, or otherwise negotiate. Don’t hesitate to use a competing quote as leverage.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions about EHR shopping. We also recommend that you consult with software advice and review this short video. We look forward to hearing from you.
How to Apply for the Meaningful Use Program
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, popularly known as Meaningful Use, reimburses Eligible Providers (EPs) for purchasing and implementing certified Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems. The program reimburses EPs up to $44,000 under the Medicare track or $64,000 under Medicaid. Here’s how you can get started:
First, analyze your billing reports. To qualify for Medicare, you have to bill a minimum of $124,000 in annual allowable charges, which most EPs easily meet. Medicaid requires 30% or more of your patient base have Medicaid as primary, or possibly secondary or tertiary insurance, depending on your particular state.
Second, talk to your Regional Extension Center (REC). The REC administers HITECH in each state. They will determine if you qualify and advise you which program you should use. It is critical to get involved with them early. Google “regional extension center” and your state. California has multiple RECs, so you may have to call around to find the appropriate one.
Third, choose the program that best fits you. Medicaid pays about $20,000 in year one and makes it easier to collect the money, as you need only purchase the software. Medicare pays $18,000 in year one and requires a 90-day attestation period where you must meet 15 core and five menu requirements. As such, October 1st is the last day you can begin attestation for 2012. Be sure to register online; you need not have selected an EHR before signing up.
Fourth, conduct your EHR search in a quick, effective manner. Do not make a rash decision, but understand you are working against the clock. 2012 is the last year you can receive the full Medicare stimulus amount of $44,000 per provider. If you want to participate this year, you need to purchase your EHR this summer. Keep in mind it may take a couple of months to implement the EHR and come up to speed. You need to be absolutely comfortable with your system by October 1st to meet the meaningful use requirements.
Please let us know if we can help you with the HITECH program. Our experienced consultants can guide you through registration, EHR selection, and attestation. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Barriers to EHR Adoption
Despite many benefits and the Meaningful Use incentive program, practices are still dragging their feet when it comes to implementing Electronic Health Record (EHR) software. Unfortunately, Meaningful Use has not eliminated the barriers to entry for most small and medium sized medical offices. Here are a few barriers that small practices face.
Finances seem to be the primary barrier for most practices. Although Meaningful Use offers between $44,000 and $64,000 per provider, it comes as a reimbursement. Practices must purchase and implement EHR software before the money flows. Declining reimbursements from public and private payers and patients losing their health insurance have caused a downward trend in revenue. As a result, even web-based EHRs with a monthly fee model may be difficult for some practices to afford.
Time is another important barrier. Providers and staff work hard to make ends meet. They don’t always have time to search out EHR systems, schedule demonstrations, and navigate the murky waters of EHR purchasing. This problem is perhaps most pronounced for the single practitioner who does not have an office manager.
Lack of technical understanding is the third main barrier. Even if a practice has time and financial resources, providers may feel intimidated by their lack of computer skills. They feel like it is too difficult for them to make a proper EHR selection if they do not understand the technology.
Is your practice interested in implementing EHR? Are you stymied by one or more barriers to entry? Our experienced consultants can help you develop strategies to overcome these common road blocks. Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
HIT Project Financing Available
We typically think of financing when purchasing Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems or other big-ticket items. Have you delayed projects due to lack of resources? Most financing companies can fund projects starting around $3,000.
The average practice can benefit from many less-costly projects such as laboratory interfaces, medical device integration, scanning and document management, or even custom development. If your practice has already implemented EHR, you should start planning to move to the next level. Integrating with labs, medical devices, or other systems can increase efficiency and reduce the workload on your staff.
If you have not yet moved to EHR, you can make the transition easier through scanning and document management. Scanning helps organize your charts so you can import or attach them to your electronic records at a later time. In addition, you can comply with HIPAA regulations by backing up your scanned charts both locally and off site. Backing up paper charts is impractical at best.
Security and HIPAA compliance affects practices regardless of EHR implementation. The HITECH Act, which brings us the meaningful use program, also amended HIPAA law, making it more widely applicable and increasing the penalties for non-compliance. Practices should start with a risk assessment, and then begin improving their security based on the risk assessment findings.
Don’t place important projects on hold indefinitely. If your practice is short on cash, ask your financing company if they can help you out. We have relationships with several financing companies that could fit your needs. Investing in your practice may also provide tax benefits under code 179. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meaningful Use Audits on the way
The HITECH Act reimburses providers up to $44,000 under Medicare or $64,000 under Medicaid for purchasing and implementing a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. Because the government is spending so much money, they have a vested interest in making sure providers are following the rules properly. Chief Privacy Officer at the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT announced 10% of Meaningful Use recipients will be audited.
Meaningful Use core item 15 requires providers to conduct or review a security risk assessment as per HIPAA law. Providers can address all of the Meaningful Use requirements directly through their EHR except item 15, the risk assessment. As a result, it tends to get over looked or set on the back burner during attestation.
Providers who neglect to complete a risk assessment, or perform an inadequate assessment may be at risk for losing their reimbursement. NIST 800-30 is the industry standard for risk assessments. Be sure to ask your vendor if their risk assessment includes the 800-30 protocols. Otherwise it may not be thorough enough to satisfy HIPAA and Meaningful Use requirements.
We partner with ACR2 Solutions to provide our risk assessments. Their web-based product uses NIST 800-30 protocols, accepts log files from UTM systems, and vulnerability scanner results. Please contact us at email@example.com if you would like help conducting a risk assessment.