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Top 5 Benefits of Direct Messaging

30. August 2014 13:19 by MDToolbox in Direct Messaging

Last week we covered the basics of what Direct messaging is in the healthcare field.  This week we focus on some of the biggest benefits of using Direct messaging. 

1.     Improves Care Coordination

By eliminating the need for outdated communication methods, such as faxing and mailing, and enabling electronic health information exchange with Direct messaging, communication is greatly improved between health care providers. Protected Health Information (PHI) is not only easier to send and receive electronically, but faster.  Instead of waiting for a fax or even worse, snail mail, Direct messaging allows for sending and receiving information almost instantaneously, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of care coordination. 

2.     Secure

Faxes and envelopes could fall into the wrong hands.  Direct messaging increases the security of sending PHI information by encrypting messages and files and ensuring they are only accessible by the intended recipient.   

3.     Increases Workflow

When a patient’s information is sent by mail or fax, it still needs to be manually entered into the provider’s EHR.  By sending the information electronically, Direct messaging eliminates the need for this data entry and reduces the administrative workload.  Providers can spend more time with their patients, and less time on paper charts. 

Some Direct messaging systems, like MDToolbox-Direct, can also be integrated right into an EHR's workflow.  This increases the workflow even further by allowing providers to send and receive Direct messages in their EHR without having to log into a separate system, as well as incorporate any received information into the patient’s chart right at the time of receiving it. 

4.     Saves Money

In addition to the time saved with Direct messaging, providers can also save money by not having to pay for faxing or postage.  Furthermore, with the improved communication between providers that Direct messaging provides, duplicate procedures and tests can be avoided. 

5.     Reduces Errors

Direct messaging ensures clear and more complete information reaches the correct locations. Illegibility issues due to faxing or handwriting are eliminated by sending the information electronically and providers can be confident the information they send and receive is accurate.

Another huge benefit (and a main factor in the growth of Direct messaging) that we left off this list is that using Direct messaging meets Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.  We want to feature this benefit and so in our next Direct messaging blog series post, we delve into this topic in great detail.  Here’s a look at what other topics we have in our series:

5 Part Direct Messaging Blog Series: 

  1. Direct Messaging 101
  2. Top 5 Benefits of Direct Messaging (this article)
  3. Direct Messaging and Meaningful Use Stage 2 – Transition of Care
  4. How does Direct Messaging work – Details on how PHI stays secure
  5. Direct Messaging and Data Exchange:  What types of files and data can EHRs exchange?

Meaningful Use Stage 2 Status

20. June 2014 14:17 by MDToolbox in Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use Stage 2 started at the beginning of the year and it has been off to a slow start. A report from CMS last month showed that only 50 eligible professionals (EPs) had attested to Stage 21.  While the latest numbers given have increased to 447 EPs that have attested to Stage 2, this is still a relatively small number.2  Such low numbers point towards a lack of certified products. 

A review of the ONC HIT’s Certified Health IT Product List shows that there were over 3,500 products certified for Ambulatory Stage 1 and only a little over 700 are certified for Ambulatory Stage 2.  It is also interesting to note that out of 988 developers who certified products for Stage 1 (many had several different products, even hundreds), there are only 312 vendors with Stage 2 products.  Of those vendors with Stage 2 products, only 140 have complete EHRs that meet all of the criteria for attesting to Stage 2.  

 

Only a fraction of products, complete EHRs, vendors, and complete EHR vendors have certified for Meaningful Use Stage 2 compared to those that certified for Stage 1 as of June 13, 2014

 

CMS has proposed a potential delay in the requirement of all providers to use a 2014 Stage 2 certified product this year.3  If the pending rule passes, then providers will have one more year to use their stage 1 product.  This would also give EHRs extra time to get their product certified for the harder Stage 2 criteria.  The proposed rule is only for 2014, EPs would be required to use 2014 Edition CEHRT for the EHR reporting periods in 2015.  The rule is open for comments until July 21. 

If the rule passes this gives EHRs more time to meet the new criteria of stage 2 and get their product certified.   If it doesn’t pass, providers wanting to attest this year that do not have a Stage 2 certified product may be out of luck.  In order to attest to Stage 2 this year, physicians must report for 90 days.  As it is now, those attesting to Stage 1 for the first time need to report for 90 days before October 1st, 2014 in order to avoid the 1% Medicare penalty next year.  This means they would need to start by July 1st, only a little over a week away and before the proposed rule could be finalized. 

As a vendor who recently achieved ONC HIT 2014 Edition Modular EHR certification for our e-Prescribing product, MDToolbox-Rx, we understand how challenging meeting the Stage 2 requirements can be.  Because of this, we hope that the pending CMS rule is approved to give other vendors and providers the extra time they need to meet the criteria. 

MDToolbox offers meaningful use tools to help vendors quickly and easily meet some of the most challenging criteria.  EHRs who integrate our meaningful use certified e-Prescribing module can cross 9 criteria off their list and inherit our certification number towards their Complete EHR.   MDToolbox has also added a new MU2 Direct Messaging Module, MDToolbox-Direct, to our product line.  The Direct messaging module allows sending secure clinical messages via the Surescripts network that meet Meaningful Use Transition of Care and View, Download, Transmit criteria.   Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you get Stage 2 certified.

 

 

  1.  http://www.healthit.gov/FACAS/sites/faca/files/HITPC_CMS_Update_2014-05-06.pdf
  2.  http://www.healthit.gov/facas/sites/faca/files/HITPC_CMSUpdate_2014-06-10.pptx
  3. CMS rule to help providers make use of Certified EHR Technology http://www.cms.gov/newsroom/mediareleasedatabase/press-releases/2014-press-releases-items/2014-05-20.html

Top 8 Acronyms You Need to Know for Meaningful Use

5. May 2014 10:55 by MDToolbox in Meaningful Use

Previously we covered important Meaningful Use Terms you need to know.  But, as it seems to be with any topic, there are several acronyms you need to know to understand Meaningful Use and the requirements as well.  To help you get started, here are our top 8:

 

ONC - Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

The ONC is the department within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is in charge of Meaningful Use and promoting EHR use. 

 

NIST - National Institute for Standards and Technology

NIST is the agency within the U.S. Commerce Department that is in charge of creating the Meaningful Use test methods that EHRs use to certify on.  The agency creates standards for several other areas as well, including the Security Controls and ID Proofing needed for Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS).

 

HITECH Act - Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act

The HITECH act was signed into law in 2009 and is the act stipulating incentive payments be paid for Meaningful Use to eligible providers.

 

EP - Eligible Provider

EPs are healthcare providers that are eligible to attest to Meaningful Use.  The Medicare and Medicaid programs have different types of EPs:

Eligible Medicare EPs include:

  • Doctors of Medicine or Osteopathy
  • Doctors of Dental Surgery or Dental Medicine
  • Doctors of Podiatric Medicine
  • Doctors of Optometry
  • Chiropractors

Eligible Medicaid EPs include:

  • Physicians
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Certified Nurse - Midwife
  • Dentists
  • Physicians Assistants who practice in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Center (RHC) that is led by a Physician Assistant

 

CDS - Clinical Decision Support

CDS can be a number of different tools in an EHR that offer healthcare providers patient-specific information to aid in their clinical decisions and is one of the requirements for attesting to Meaningful Use.  A good example of CDS is showing a drug-drug or drug-allergy alert when a provider selects a drug that could have an interaction for the patient.

 

CPOE - Computerized Physician Order Entry

CPOE is the process of electronically entering medical orders, instead of on paper charts, and is also a requirement for attesting to Meaningful Use.  A prime example is electronically entering a prescription, instead of writing it out by hand on a prescription pad. 

 

HIE - Health Information Exchange

HIE is the electronic exchange of health information.  It allows health care providers and patients to access and share a patient’s health records electronically.  One of the main goals of Meaningful Use Stage 2 is to increase HIE between providers in order to increase care coordination and patient outcomes.

 

C-CDA – Consolidated-Clinical Document Architecture

The C-CDA format is a specific format standard that allows EHRs to exchange patient data with each other.  

Top 4 Terms for Meeting Meaningful Use

17. April 2014 13:05 by MDToolbox in Meaningful Use

In our last post, we covered why Meaningful Use is so big in 2014.  When talking about Meaningful Use, there are a lot of terms and requirements that are thrown around and it can get quite confusing.  This week we delve a little deeper into some of the main terms and requirements for meeting Meaningful Use.

1.       Attestation

Meaningful use attestation is the process of demonstrating that an individual or organization is meeting the requirements in order to qualify for the federal government payments.  They must prove (attest to) that they are meaningfully using a certified EHR.  Providers are required to register and attest using the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website.  As we mentioned last week, there are three different stages to Meaningful Use and providers must attest annually to whichever stage they are on.  There are three sets of requirements providers must attest to at each stage:  core objectives, menu objectives, and clinical quality measures.

2.       Core Objectives

Each stage of Meaningful Use has its own set of Core Objectives that a provider must meet and attest to.  All Core Objectives are required and have a specific measurement for each objective that must be achieved.  For Stage 1 there are 15 Core Objectives and for Stage 2 there are 17 Core Objectives.  As providers move on to the next stage, the measures get higher and/or include more requirements. 

Here’s an example:

            Core Objective:   Generate and transmit permissible prescriptions electronically (eRx)

Stage 1 Measure:  More than 40% of all permissible prescriptions written by the EP (Eligible Provider) are transmitted electronically

Stage 2 Measure: More than 50% of all permissible prescriptions, or all prescriptions, written by the EP are queried for a drug formulary and transmitted electronically using CEHRT.

3.       Menu Objectives

In addition to the Core Objectives, providers also have to meet and attest to a set of Menu Objectives.  Not all Menu Objectives are required, and providers are allowed to choose a certain number from the set.  In Stage 1, providers must attest to 5 out of 10 Menu Objectives, with at least 1 public health objective selected.  In Stage 2, providers must attest to 3 out of 6 Menu Objectives. 

Here’s an example:

            Stage 1 Menu Objective: Medication reconciliation

Measure:  The EP performs medication reconciliation for more than 50% of transitions of care in which the patient is transitioned into the care of the EP.

Stage 2 Menu Objective: Record electronic notes in patient records.

Measure: Enter at least one electronic progress note created, edited and signed by an EP for more than 30 percent of unique patients with at least one office visit during the EHR reporting period.

 4.       Clinical Quality Measures

Lastly, providers must attest to a set of Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs).   CQMs look at how well a provider delivers appropriate clinical services to their patients, or the quality of care.  They assess everything from treatments to experiences to outcomes.  As stated on the CMS website, “CQMs help identify areas that require improvement in care delivery, identify differences in care among various populations, and may improve care coordination between health care providers.” 

As of 2014, all providers have to report on the same CQMs regardless of what stage they are on.  There are 64 CQMs categorized into six National Quality Strategy domains which include: (1) Patient and Family Engagement (2) Patient Safety (3) Care Coordination (4) Population/Public Health (5) Efficient Use of Healthcare Resources and (6) Clinical Process/Effectiveness.  Providers must report on 9 of the 64 CQMs and they must cover at least three of the National Quality Strategy domains.  Providers are only allowed to attest to CQMs that their EHR vendor has certified on, so some providers might have a lot less than 64 to pick from. 

Here’s an example:

Clinical Quality Measure: Documentation of Current Medications in the Medical Record

Measure Description: Percentage of specified visits for patients aged 18 years and older for which the eligible professional attests to documenting a list of current medications to the best of his/her knowledge and ability

Domain: Patient Safety

 

Source:

www.cms.gov

Meaningful Use in 2014 – What’s All the Fuss About?

3. April 2014 15:18 by MDToolbox in Meaningful Use

“Meaningful Use” is one of the biggest healthcare buzz terms in 2014, so what’s all the fuss about? Our next series of blog posts is dedicated to answering this, and other questions, about Meaningful Use.

Meaningful Use - The Basics

Meaningful Use was established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011 as an incentive payment program to encourage the appropriate use of electronic health records (EHR).  The goal of the program is to improve patient care by “meaningfully using” EHRs to meet the following five priorities:

    1. Improving quality, safety, efficiency, and reducing health disparities
    2. Engaging patients and families in their health
    3. Improving care coordination
    4. Improving population and public health
    5. Ensuring adequate privacy and security protection for personal health information

 

Meaningful Use Stages

CMS has established certain objectives that healthcare providers must meet in order to receive incentive payments (and avoid penalties).  There are 3 stages to the program, with increasing requirements for participating:

  • Stage 1

Providers begin by meeting Stage 1 requirements for a 90 day period within the first year.  Then, depending on the year they started, they must demonstrate 3 months or a year of Meaningful Use in their second year.

The focus of Stage 1 is data capture and sharing, with five main areas:

  1. Electronically capturing health information in a standardized format
  2. Using that information to track key clinical conditions
  3. Communicating that information for care coordination processes
  4. Initiating the reporting of clinical quality measures and public health information
  5. Using information to engage patients and their families in their care
  • Stage 2

Once a provider has achieved Meaningful Use under the Stage 1 criteria, they move on to Stage 2 for two years.

The focus of Stage 2 is advanced clinical processes, with four main areas:

  1. More rigorous health information exchange (HIE)
  2. Increased requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results
  3. Electronic transmission of patient care summaries across multiple settings
  4. More patient-controlled data
  • Stage 3

The focus of Stage 3 is improved outcomes, with five main areas:

  1. Improving quality, safety, and efficiency, leading to improved health outcomes
  2. Decision support for national high-priority conditions
  3. Patient access to self-management tools
  4. Access to comprehensive patient data through patient-centered HIE
  5. Improving population health

 

Why is 2014 Such a Big Year for Meaningful Use?  

  • Stage 2 Began

2014 is the first year that Stage 2 criteria have been effective and any providers who began Stage 1 in 2011 or 2012 are now required to begin Stage 2. 

  • Last Year to Start Earning Incentives

2014 is the last year that a provider can start participating and earn any EHR incentives.  If a provider starts participating in 2014, they can still earn up to $24,000 in incentives.  In addition, providers must successfully demonstrate meaningful use by October 1, 2014 to avoid a 1% Medicare penalty in 2015.  In 2016, the penalty increases to 2% and then increases again to 3% in 2017.   

  • 2014 Certified EHR Technology Required

In 2014, all providers are required to attest to meaningful use using only 2014 Certified EHR Technology, regardless of what stage they are on.  Because of this, all providers are only required to demonstrate meaningful use for a 3-month EHR reporting period.  This is to allow providers sufficient time to upgrade their systems to the necessary technology. 

This also means that all EHRs being used for Meaningful Use have to be recertified using the 2014 criteria by July 1, 2014 in order to allow providers to attest by the October 1st deadline.

 

Sources:

www.cms.gov

www.healthit.gov