Quick tips: How EHRs can improve practice function
Whether doctors select from the federal government's meaningful use (MU) menu or not, electronic health record (EHR) systems offer a palatable array of benefits that ultimately equate to greater efficiency and patient care.
"The most important thing to do with EHR is to find ways to make you more efficient."
Doctors may be frustrated with some MU requirements—the AOA has objected to some of the program's goals and continues to work with other physician organizations to get the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Congress to provide participating optometrists with some relief. AOA will continue to help members interested in meeting Stage 2 measures and improve their practice in the process.
Five ways to find success with EHRs
April Jasper, O.D., in West Palm Beach, Florida, recently overhauled her office to implement EHR and offers these top 5 ways EHR helped her meet MU measures, and also made a difference in the daily operation of her practice:
- Efficiency. "The most important thing to do with EHR is to find ways to make you more efficient," Dr. Jasper says, and that's precisely how EHR has aided the practice and helped meet MU measures. Dr. Jasper suggests something as simple as taking a patient's picture for the EHR's demographics page leads to better customer service and helps make certain doctors keep patient information protection a top priority.
- Accuracy. Not only can EHR offer efficient collection of information, but also an accurate database for which to review MU measures and improve patient outcomes into the future. The MU scorecard function of many EHRs allows Dr. Jasper to accurately process information to ensure proper calculations of key measures. "Watch that report card daily to make certain you are following the rules, so if you are missing a measure, you can make corrections quickly," she says.
- Interoperability. Information exchange is a foundational tenet of EHR and one that could provide vast promise for the health care system of the future. Taking that first step toward interconnectivity, EHR allows for integrated e-prescribing. Dr. Jasper says this not only allows the practice to fulfill the MU measure for e-prescribing and promotes accurate counts, but it also means precise record keeping for better care.
- Engagement. Regardless of whether a practitioner is reporting to MU, the level of information collected by EHR provides a critical opportunity to connect with patients and deliver great customer service in the process. Dr. Jasper uses EHR to print off clinical summaries of patient visits that provide relevant, descriptive and actionable information about the exam's findings that patients can easily understand and review.
- Integration. Using the EHR to integrate practice equipment not only helps explain patients' disease states, but also enables the practice to save patient data and images in a HIPAA-compliant manner that also meets MU measures, Dr. Jasper says.
In parting advice, Dr. Jasper says regardless of EHR software brand, make sure it is certified for MU. She recommends reviewing the program's MU guide with the IT company to be certain how each measure can be met.
Click here to read more about Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) changes and participation in the coming year, and click here to register for a PQRS webinar from 12 to 1 p.m. EST, Dec. 19. The webinar will offer pertinent information to participate and avoid future payment penalties.