CHIME: Low Stage 2 Attestation Numbers Validate Need for Shortened Reporting Period in 2015

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is reiterating its call to immediately shorten the reporting period for 2015, as substandard meaningful use low Stage 2 attestation numbers lag for the 2014 program year, the organization said in a statement.

According to the data recently released by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) during the Health IT Policy Committee meeting, less than 35 percent of the nation’s hospitals have met Stage 2 meaningful use requirements. While eligible professionals (EPs) have until the end of February to report their progress, just 4 percent have met Stage 2 requirements thus far, CHIME cited.

“Despite policy efforts to mitigate a disastrous program year, today’s release of participation data confirms widespread challenges with Stage 2 meaningful use,” said CHIME president and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO.

Roughly one in three hospitals scheduled to meet Stage 2 in 2014 had to use alternative pathways to meet MU, administrative data current through December 1 indicates.

“This trend demonstrates how vital new flexibilities were in 2014 and again, underscores the need for the same flexibility in 2015,” said Branzell. “It is imperative officials take immediate action to put this critical transformation program back on track. Shortening the time frame for MU reporting in 2015 will help to ensure the program delivers on its promise to advance the transformation of healthcare in this country.”

CHIME and several other national provider associations have repeatedly told CMS that without more program flexibility and a shortened reporting period in 2015, the future of Meaningful Use is in jeopardy.

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Stage 2 Meaningful Use Will Make Medical Image Archiving in the Cloud a Necessity

Mitchell Goldburgh
Mitchell Goldburgh

Guest post by Mitchell Goldburgh, cloud clinical archive product manager, Dell.

Stage 2 meaningful use criteria require providers to make diagnostic reports and associated images accessible through a certified electronic health record. That presents a difficult hurdle for many hospitals, especially community hospitals that are not connected to a large health system. And with the plethora of EHRs in use across healthcare, the task may be difficult for some multi-hospital systems.

This is a watershed moment for many imaging practices, and Stage 2 requirements may be the factor that sends most imaging files to a vendor-neutral archive (VNA).

Knowing that Stage 2 will require facilities to integrate their medical images with EHRs, the best VNA providers have in place automated tools that can integrate these files with all of the major EHRs and with many of the smaller EHR vendors. The value of a VNA comes from local and remote content brought to EHRs with a consistent presentation of results and images at the point of clinical care. VNA solutions offer a global viewer with a common toolset to navigate documents and imaging content, thus simplifying the access and freeing users from the need to learn multiple application navigations.

As technology in imaging increases the complexity of data, the presentation of information consistently for non-imaging specialists within the accountable care group becomes crucial to “customer” satisfaction with the imaging services. But VNA software is only a part of the solution – an integrated model that simplifies delivery of content can best be achieved with a service delivery model enabled with cloud content management.

Archiving-as-a-service is the model for the future

So what does this model entail? A good vendor-neutral archiving solution enters the scenario once a clinical exam is reported. At that point, the job of the PACS is done. The exam file is transmitted to an on-site server (supported by your archiving service provider) that transforms it into a vendor-neutral format. Current files are stored on site for fast access and also uploaded to a secure cloud platform. At this point content notification occurs, informing external systems that the report and clinical imaging data are available. In this model clinicians can view content anywhere, from any device, either as a stand-alone application from the VNA or through the web-enabled EHR accessing the VNA.

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AMA Calls for Penalties to be Removed from the Meaningful Use Program

In a new policy approved at the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Interim Meeting, physicians continued to call for penalties to be halted in the meaningful use program. Physicians feel that full interoperability, which is not widely available today, is necessary to achieve the goals of electronic health records (EHRs) — to facilitate coordination, increase efficiency and help improve the quality of care.

The new policy comes on the heels of the recent release of new attestation numbers showing only 2 percent of physicians have demonstrated Stage 2 meaningful use. In response to the new figure, the AMA joined with other healthcare leaders to urge policymakers to take immediate action to fix the meaningful use program by adding more flexibility and shortening the reporting period to help physicians avoid penalties.

“The AMA has been calling for policymakers to refocus the meaningful use program on interoperability for quite some time,” said AMA president-elect Steven J. Stack, M.D. “The whole point of the meaningful use incentive program was to allow for the secure exchange of information across settings and providers and right now that type of sharing and coordination is not happening on a wide scale for reasons outside physicians’ control. Physicians want to improve the quality of care and usable, interoperable electronic health records are a pathway to achieving that goal.”

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Racing toward Meaningful Use: Using a 2014 Edition Certified Technology Vendor is Vital for MU Attestation

Christina Caraballo
Christina Caraballo

Guest post by Christina Caraballo, MBA, Get Real Health.

Hospitals and eligible professionals that have yet to meet their meaningful use requirements are facing a good news/bad news scenario. First the bad news: The clock is ticking, as major deadlines loom. The good news: It’s not too late to hop aboard the MU train, although some running might be required. If you’re among those seeking MU attestation this year, here are key points you need to know.

2014 Certified?

Before you take one more step, make sure your technology vendor is 2014 certified. Regardless of whether you are attesting to meaningful use Stage 1 or Stage 2, all eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals (EHs)/Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are now required to use an ONC 2014 Edition Certified technology to successfully attest to both MU1 and MU2.

You might have been under the impression that Stage 1 corresponds with the 2011 Edition and Stage 2 corresponds to the 2014 Edition. This is not the case, but your confusion is understandable.

What happened? When meaningful use was first introduced, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published MU Stage 1 and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published the 2011 Edition Certification; then MU Stage 2 and the 2014 Edition Certification Criteria were released within days of one another.

Here’s a quick break-down of the new timetable:

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Mobile Healthcare Trends: Daniel Kivatinos, Co-founder, drchrono Offers His Perspective

Daniel Kivatinos
Daniel Kivatinos

Mobile healthcare trends, they’re only going to get more prevalent. That said, drchrono provides its official take on the top six mobile healthcare trends that are on the minds of physicians, business leaders and patients.

Daniel Kivatinos, COO and Co-founder, drchrono throws his hat in the ring and takes a look at some noteworthy mobile healthcare trends and issues that will be headlines this year.

Consumer Accountable Care – Today’s mobile devices allow consumers to become more accountable for their care. As high deductible healthcare plans become more popular, consumers are empowered now more than ever with access to reviews of physicians and can also track comparison of prices for healthcare procedures. Education about how to manage their own health is now easier, so patients are savvier and more informed with access to more apps and websites.

Here are a few examples of some popular tools and apps that consumers are using to be more responsible and own their health:

Less is Now More – As physicians get paid less, physicians are finding tools to do more with less. For example, with just an iPad a physician can run its practice, accessing and managing patient data. According to a recent article in The USA Today, as the demand for healthcare goes up and as a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians is predicted by 2020, more non-physicians are doing some of the work, such as nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physician assistants. Quality metrics software pushed through EHRs can also simplify digital health and assist with reimbursements, as well as quality and efficiency standards.

There is so much data coming at physicians on paper, they generally skim a medical record, sometimes missing key information. Organizing all of the data in a digital format flagging the most critical, relevant data pertaining to a patient is a key time saver. The reality of the situation is that with paper medical records this workflow isn’t possible.

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Managing the Cost of Measuring Care

Dr. Jon Handler
Dr. Jon Handler

Guest post by Jonathan A. Handler, MD, FACEP and chief medical information officer for M*Modal.

The U.S. Government officially recognizes that filling out paperwork is expensive. The most costly paperwork requires us to measure and report information – like our yearly income. If you have ever filled out a government form, you may have noticed that it provides an estimated cost to complete.

For example, the simplest “EZ” income tax form will cost each taxpayer an average of four hours and $40 (http://goo.gl/C6ra — page 41). This is a result of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires the government to reduce the paperwork burden on the public and publish the estimated cost of completing each form. However, the Paperwork Reduction Act may have a loophole, because it seems to be limited to government documents.

The government creates a tremendous documentation burden on healthcare providers that appears to fall outside the scope of the Act. In 2014, new government requirements will increase that workload dramatically even as reimbursement drops. Since we do not have consensus on how to address these changes without sacrificing patient care, I believe a key trend in 2014 will be “Managing the Cost of Measuring Care.”

Clinicians are already at the breaking point in the time they spend on documentation and care measurement. This year, regulations demand more than ever. The move to ICD-10 significantly increases the cost of choosing the right billing code because ICD-10 is more complex and about eight times bigger than ICD-9. Stage 2 of the government’s meaningful use program requires clinicians to record more patient information in structured form, to report clinical quality measures, to perform medication reconciliation, and much more. The Two-Midnight rule requires physicians to anticipate when an admitted patient will need to stay in the hospital longer than “two midnights” and justify that in writing.

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Healthcare in 2014: Three Opportunities on the Horizon

Jon Zimmerman
Jon Zimmerman

Guest post by Jonathan Zimmerman vice president and general manager, Clinical Business Solutions, GE Healthcare IT.

With key deadlines looming, 2014 will be a critical year for the healthcare industry, one marked by important industry milestones and advances. As ICD-10 implementation and meaningful use Stage 2 attestation approach, many are saying we have reached healthcare’s tipping point – where first of its kind opportunities for collaboration and innovation intersect with challenging regulatory standards and population health demands. In order to better facilitate these updates and solve potential market challenges, healthcare providers will need to blend innovative technological solutions with current operational systems.

As the industry evolves, we anticipate three key opportunities for 2014.

#1: Smarter Collaborations

New industry partnerships and alliances are being created to collectively address standardization and implementation. Healthcare IT organizations are working to adopt common standards and protocols to provide sustainable, cost-effective, trusted access to patient data. Payers and providers are coming together to ensure healthcare providers are setup up for success. Regulatory agencies, manufacturers and providers are working diligently to approve more devices, streamline communications and update payment codes in time for ICD-10 implementation. We are also seeing CIOs/CTOs work closer than ever before with physicians in order to reap the benefits of incentive driven initiatives like meaningful use Stage 2.

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Navigating the Challenge of Meeting Meaningful Use Stage 2

Shameem Hameed

Guest post by Shameem C. Hameed, Chairman of ZH Healthcare

Nearly a thousand developers of health information technology produced and certified their products for meaningful use Stage 1 (MU1) criteria, but according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) fewer than 80 have passed certification for meaningful use Stage 2 (MU2).

Why is the challenge of meeting meaningful use Stage 2 much more difficult, and why are many finding it to be a more rigorous certification process? To start, the requirements are more complex, and vendors are facing challenges in building solutions that are truly interoperable – which is the goal that all EMR/EHR vendors are pursuing as they upgrade their software to meet MU2 requirements. 

While MU1 required that patient data be shared with patients or other healthcare professionals, MU2 has more in-depth requirements for sharing that data using advanced document architecture. EHR software needs to electronically connect and securely share data with patients, other practices, laboratories, hospitals, etc. Challenges arise for vendors when trying to build software that will easily integrate with other proprietary clinical systems. This means working with those other entities on their time frame. Because of the large number of EMR systems that need access to these entities, prioritization of these interface requests have led to long wait times and in turn, further delay certification progress.

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Home Health Driving Demand for Mobile Innovation for Improved Interactions Between Patients and Caregivers

David Crist

Dave Crist is senior vice president for Brother Mobile Solutions, Inc.

Recently, the president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) called on all American’s to commemorate National Home Care & Hospice Month. He also stated that in the coming years, home health care is poised to play a central role in the delivery of healthcare throughout the country. Yet, the growing home health market is not without challenges. Solutions that blend innovation and mobility at the point of care can help pave the way for strong patient-caregiver interactions and support positive outcomes.

Home Health Poses Challenges: Mobile Solutions Can Improve Care Delivery

An aging population and tough new compliance and regulatory issues are posing challenges for the home healthcare segment. The unique and specific needs of the home healthcare market must play a paramount role in organizations seeking to develop mobile solutions to address these issues. Home caregivers urgently need “smart” solutions that address not only patient privacy, but also, wireless connectivity, mobile printing, security and remote data access.

There are a number of issues and trends impacting the healthcare industry that solution providers and caregivers need to keep top-of-mind:

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Mobile Technology Core to HIT Implementation for Transforming Healthcare

Bettina Experton
Bettina Experton

Guest post by Bettina Experton, MD, MPH, president and CEO, Humetrix.

Mobile technology core to HIT implementation, a silent revolution which took place on September 23 this year when the HIPAA omnibus rule took effect, giving Americans the right to obtain electronic copies of their health records. But how can this new right be exercised at scale to transform healthcare nationwide? How do we help patients better coordinate their care and ensure their safety by getting their health records in their own hands?

The scalable computing device of choice in the hands of many is a smartphone, now owned by more than 50 percent of the population, and for many the only computing device they use daily to access information on the Internet. Clearly, electronic access to health records would be best provided on the very mobile device most of us carry at all times, especially when navigating a complex health care system with multiple  and dispersed providers.

Electronic copies of health records on CDs or flash drives are not only tools of the past, but also perpetuate the barriers and complexity most of us have to face when requesting copies of our records. Desktop and portal-only solutions are also not the optimum approach to consumer-directed health information exchange, since these cannot be available at the point of care where patients need to share their medical history in the most convenient and expedient way. Mobile is, therefore, central to health information exchange policies and new care delivery models built on patient-centered care, and should not be an afterthought or secondary implementation to dated patient portal systems.

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