3 Key Things You Need to Do With Your EHR in Coming Months

Ronald B. Sterling, MBA

Disclosures

August 13, 2013

Introduction

The next 12 months present serious electronic health record (EHR) scheduling challenges to medical practices. It will be necessary to manage and consider the critical path needed to maintain your EHR strategy and tactics. The key issues follow.

HIPAA Omnibus Compliant Security and Privacy

The Health Improvement Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Omnibus rules must be implemented by September 23, 2013. HIPAA Omnibus requires significant adjustments to HIPAA security and privacy policies and procedures. Many practices have yet to address the required changes to avoid penalties and exposure. Just as important, practices will need to train their staff and doctors on these changes. In the event of a HIPAA security or privacy problem, the penalties could increase for those practices that did not make changes to comply with HIPAA Omnibus.

Upgrade to Stage 2 Meaningful Use Version

Unfortunately, many vendors have yet to release the Stage 2 Meaningful Use version of their EHR. Of particular concern to many practices is the announced delivery dates in the fourth quarter of 2013 or even later for a wide array of EHR products. This late delivery is problematic for a number of reasons. Your practice will be competing with all of the other practices that need to attain Meaningful Use Stage 2 in 2014. (Any practice that first attested to Stage 1 in 2011 or 2012 must move to Stage 2 in 2014.)Many vendors lack the personnel and processes to support a rollout that has regulatory limitations for your practice.

In 2014, the Medicaid EHR incentive program limits the 90-day reporting period to quarters. Thereby, you only have 4 chances to attain the meaningful use measures in 2014. Eligible providers who run into problems during their 90-day period in 2014 will have to wait until the next quarter to restart their 90-day reporting period. In 2013, you can start a new 90-day period whenever you want.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use core requirements include using secured messaging with patients and providing patients access to their medical information. Each measure requires 5% of the unique patients for an "eligible provider" to participate; 5% of unique patients must send a secure message to the eligible provider, and 5% of unique patients must access their medical record information.

Most EHR products support these capabilities through a patient portal. Unlike the Stage 1 measures, your practice will need time to "sell" patients on the patient portal concept and have them send messages and access information to meet the meaningful use measure. Such an effort must be successful before you can start your 90-day period for Stage 2 in 2014.

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