West Broadway Clinic has three physicians and two PA’s – all three physicians successfully attested to Meaningful use on April 20, 2011. The practice encompasses multiple specialties including family medicine, internal medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, women’s healthcare and offers onsite x-ray, dexa scan and vasectomies. The following interview is with Jan Patterson, the Practice Manager who drove the MU process and attestation.
At West Broadway Clinic in Council Bluffs, Iowa, we learned about Cerner Corporation through a local hospital. After extensive research into Cerner and several other vendors, we made the decision that the integration of Cerner’s Practice Management System and Ambulatory EHR would be the most beneficial to our organization.
The EHR certification is a vital piece for being able to meet the CME incentive requirements, and we feel that we are practicing better medicine and using our EHR solution more efficiently after receiving certification. We selected our EHR well in advance of the reporting process, so it was not a major influence in the selection process. Still, we have been very pleased with how efficient our EHR solution has been with assisting us in reaching certification.
West Broadway Clinic started using an EHR in May of 2008 when our office opened. Prior to the clinic opening the providers were not using an EHR – but the providers made it an initiative to start the clinic on an electronic solution. We knew we would be up and running with an electronic solution on day one. This included an EHR and practice management solution.
4. Would you walk us through the process you followed to meet the meaningful use requirements and how did Cerner assist you in the process?
In order for West Broadway Clinic to be able to meet the Meaningful Use requirements an extensive amount of time was spent by the practice administrator attending webinars provided by Cerner Corporation regarding Meaningful Use, as well as researching the CME website and examining materials available through Medical Group Management Association, MGMA. In addition, Cerner arranged a Meaningful Use summit at our office for our office along with several of the Cerner user groups in our area – this consisted of several Cerner associates highlighting important parts of Meaningful Use, answering questions and making suggestions to assist with the process to successfully attesting. Upon compiling the requirements, time was spent one-on-one with both the providers and the clinical staff to ensure that everyone fully understood the requirements and how to use the EHR to meet the requirements.
5. How many of the meaningful use requirements were you able to meet with little or no effort because you were already doing them? Did the Cerner EHR affect this?
West Broadway Clinic was able to meet 9 of the meaningful use requirements with little or no effort since as were already conducting several of these requirements through the use of our EHR. The use of the Cerner EHR and the elements that were already built into the EHR were the major factor we were able to meet these requirements so easily. Additionally, as we ran into any issues – we were able to contact Cerner’s Meaningful Use team (a group of designated associates) to assist, which eased the process.
Probably the most challenging Meaningful Use requirement for our clinic was encouraging all of the providers to use the electronic prescription function. However, once they understood the necessity of using electronic prescriptions and became comfortable with the function they have continued to increase the number of electronic prescriptions they are sending to the pharmacies.
West Broadway Clinic worked in earnest to be fully complying with the Meaningful Use requirements as quickly as possible after the beginning of 2011. These efforts allowed us the opportunity to be able to attest on April 20, 2011 – two days after attestation opened.
West Broadway Clinic has seen many positive changes in patient care with the use of a certified EHR. With the use of Cerner’s Ambulatory EHR our staff has the ability to have the most current visit information and patient history at our fingertips. Patients receive more continuity of care due to the fact that regardless of what provider they are seeing within our office the provider can quickly and easily track what services and/or medications a different provider has provided the patient. We deliver a better quality of care and we’ve enhanced safety measures through our use of the EHR. Components such as eprescribe, medicine/drug interactions, allergy checks, complete documentation, immunization schedules, growth charts, etc., have made us more efficient throughout the office from billing to practice management to prescribing medications and providing more thorough care in the patient’s room.
West Broadway Clinic is committed to providing excellent patient care and providing patient’s with the opportunity to benefit from the latest in technology. With meaningful use of an EHR our patients are afforded these opportunities. By being one of the first groups of providers to meet the Meaningful Use requirements and report on them successfully, we are further able to show our commitment to our patients and their healthcare.
10. As a practice manager, what techniques did you use to get your physicians on board with meaningful use and EHR?
As a practice we had been discussing Meaningful Use for over a year and as the time grew near to implement the process the physicians were fully aware of the expectations and requirements and the benefits that would be provided to our patients. A lot of communication went into ensuring that all of the physicians were on board.
11. Would you recommend that every health clinic show meaningful use and adopt an EHR? Why or why not?
After being on an EHR for more than three years I cannot imagine trying to function efficiently with a paper system. While the training period was stressful at times and it took the physicians a while to adjust, the benefits far outweigh any of the pain points. In addition, the opportunity to be able to transmit and receive patient information from other facilities in the future will only continue to enhance our patient care and the delivery of quality patient care is why we are practicing medicine in the first place.
12. For all healthcare professionals reading this interview, what advice would you give them in starting the meaningful use process?
For anyone starting the Meaningful Use process, my advice is to first gather all of your information and facts. It is vital to be clear on the direction you need to take in order to ensure that all of the requirements are being met. In addition to thoroughly explaining all of the requirements to your physicians/staff and gaining their buy-in communicate with your staff and ensure that they fully understand the benefits and the necessity of meeting the Meaningful Use requirements, which is primarily to use your electronic records in a successful, meaningful way that will enhance the delivery and quality of care that your office provides. Remember the main reason why you are attesting, the money is a great incentive – but the biggest factor in successfully attesting is the benefit to your patients. Anyone can purchase an EHR and use it unsuccessfully or at its minimal functionality – to use it to it’s very best ability and to meet the requirements set forth by the Meaningful Use standards is to practice better medicine for your patients and to encourage others in your field to make quality care the highest priority.
13. What remains your greatest EHR challenge post EHR implementation and meaningful use?
The greatest challenge for EHR and Meaningful Use continues to be the necessity to ensure that all the physicians and staff are continuing to maintain their high level of entering the correct and necessary data in patient’s charts to enable us to increase our reporting requirement levels far after successfully attesting. I have continued to monitor my staff’s levels after attestation and I’ve found that their numbers continue to increase – which is a positive realization for our staff and for our patients. It will also be imperative that we continue to monitor any new information coming out of CME and Cerner regarding meaningful use requirements especially as we gear up for Phase 2.
14. What’s been the biggest benefit to your clinic of having an EHR?
West Broadway Clinic has benefited from having an EHR in multiple ways from never having to track down a paper chart to the continuity of care it provides for our patients. Having an EHR that integrates with our Practice Management System has reduced the amount of time it takes for charges to be entered and then forwarded to insurance companies. The adoption of an EHR has enabled West Broadway Clinic to become more efficient and be able to focus more upon the patient as a person. The increased benefits of safety cannot be undersold. With the assistance of the EHR, we are practicing better, safer medicine than we could on paper records.