This is the second in a series of EMR and EHR interviews that will be done on EMR and HIPAA and EMR and EHR. The full EMR interview with Dr. Muir can be found on the new EHR and EMR interviews website. The following is a summary of that interview written by Kathy Bongiovi.
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Dr. Peter Muir of Springfield Center for Family Medicine was interviewed recently concerning his acquisition of the maximum Medicare Incentive for showing Meaningful Use of a Certified EHR. The Ohio based primary care practice has been using NextGen Ambulatory since 2003 and NextGen Management since 2006.
Dr. Muir stated that their practice chose NextGen EHR because the company focused on clinical offices. Dr. Muir and NextGen EHR share the philosophy of always searching for ways to improve the product. Dr. Muir not only believes in this philosophy but also attended a development think tank along these lines at NextGen’s headquarters. He was also drawn to NextGen because he wanted the capability of customizing his templates.
Having demographics, scheduling, clinical and billing information all on one database has had a huge impact on Muir’s practice. He feels that having a centralized database “makes reporting much easier and more comprehensive than those EHRs with separate databases or separate vendors”. The doctor admitted the conversion from paper charts to EHR was stressful for the first year but well worth it in the long run.
Since Muir’s office has been using EHRs (since 2003), there have been relatively few changes needed for Meaningful Use and any required upgrades to the system came as part of the standard NextGen maintenance fees. There was data that had to be added which was not normally collected by his practice as it had little relevance to his patients but from the patients’ perspective, there was no change in the attention patients received from Springfield Center.
The family practitioner Muir credits the CMS web site and NextGen Healthcare for not only the upgrades to their EHR software but also for their pathway documents and webinars which helped them show meaningful use. He also credits GBS of Youngstown, Ohio (his NextGen vendor for hardware, software) who also helped them implement security upgrades in 2010 in anticipation of the process.
Additionally, being a part of the ONC Meaningful Use Vanguard Program was a benefit to Dr. Muir because “it provides recognition which may allow a greater input in system design and operation.” Muir is concerned, though, that the Program’s flow of information may be difficult if multiple database silos remain in service and a lack of standardization isn’t addressed.
Especially with respect to Meaningful Use Stages 2 and 3, the doctor believes it is critical to have professional health providers utilizing some form of regional system – versus individual systems – in order to have a seamless flow of information. Muir has begun such a system within his own state of Ohio.
The doctor was intricately involved in starting CCHIE (Collaborating Communities Health Information Exchange) in Springfield, Ohio. CCHIE chose HealthBridge as their data engine and together they have partnered with other healthcare providers to provide electronic access to patients’ lab and radiology results as well as to admissions, discharges and transfer information. They have added regions in Southern Indiana and two regions in Northern Kentucky.
Dr. Muir’s advice to fellow doctors is that unless they are planning to retire within the next couple of years they should not delay in the implementation of an EHR. The longer they wait, the more difficult and time consuming the transition will be because, with time, the activities of daily practice will be much broader and more demanding. Additionally, he suggests providers select a system that does not just meet Meaningful Use requirements. His advice is to “select a system that assists you in providing better medical care”.
Read the full transcript of Dr. Muir’s interview.