On May 15th 2012 Private Practice received the federal government’s “meaningful use” stamp of approval by earning Modular Certification. Our primary goal of Modular Certification was to assure our users that Private Practice uses Privacy and Security measures that meet the highest governement standards for oversight and protection of private health data.
To get a better understanding of what Meaningful Use Certification really means, read on!
There is a lot of discussion these days about how to get money for using an electronic health record (EHR). Like most things in life that come with free money, there’s more to it than just finding and signing on to a certified EHR vendor. There are some important things to consider as you make the transition from paper to electronic charting that may or may not allow you to get paid to do it.
Where is the money coming from?
On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) as an economic stimulus package providing investment in the nation’s infrastructure, employment, transportation, education and other fields. Within ARRA, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act specifically targeted healthcare by providing the means to structure a paperless national health information network. To do so, the HITECH Act provides more than $40 billion to aid in that development through a core effort to incentivize physician practices and hospital systems to adopt electronic health records (EHRs). Within the provisions of the Act, defined “eligible provider” healthcare providers are eligible for up to $44,000 or $63,750 per provider.
What is Meaningful Use and what does it mean to be a Certified EHR?
Meaningful Use of EHRs creates a universal language for medical data allowing for greater collaboration and care coordination amongst providers which means a increased quality of care for patients. This universal language will also allow for better collection and study of aggregate public health trends. Ultimately, Meaningful Use of EHRs will allow for more transparency in healthcare and encourage a transition from the current quantity model of healthcare where more procedures are incentivized to a quality model where patients have informed choice to select care that maximizes health. This is intended to help stabilize the healthcare economy while maintaining free market competition.
EHRs achieve certification by meeting specific meaningful use criteria set by the Center for Medicaid Services (CMS), which include electronic prescribing, information exchange, quality reporting, privacy and other measures. EHRs can get either complete certification or modular certification, meaning that the product does not have all of the features of a comprehensive EHR generally because many of the features required for complete certification are not appropriate or are unnecessary for the product. All certified EHRs are listed on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) whether or not they have complete certification or modular certification. If a provider is utilizing a product listed in CHPL and they are eligible for meaningful use incentives, they must then go through an attestation process where providers must further prove that they qualify for CMS incentives.
Who is eligible for the Medicaid stimulus money?
Currently, the Medicaid eligible provider definition includes the following;
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Practitioner
- Physician Assistant (Rural Health Clinic/FQHC).
- In order to be eligible to receive stimulus money on the Medicaid side, providers must report a 30% Medicaid patient volume within a continuous 90-day period.
- Eligible Providers must implement a complete EHR system or multiple modular EHR systems that are certified and meet specific criteria for meaningful use.
CMS has a wizard available here that will quickly and easily tell you if your practice is eligible for the Medicaid stimulus money. Also please note that not all states offer the medicaid incentive program but more will continue to do so throughout 2012. Check if your state has begun offering the incentive on this list.
How do eligible providers go about getting the Medicaid stimulus money?
As with any government incentive program, the process of applying for and receiving the money is complicated and laborious. Providers must apply through the CMS website which is unfortunately not very user-friendly. There are two main steps to the process, registration and attestation. Links to begin both processes as well as other helpful information is available on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website. CMS has also published detailed user guides for both steps available on their website.
Why are we moving in stages with Certification?
Our feature development strategy has been to focus on the needs of practicing midwives. We recognize that in order to reflect the unique character of the Midwives Model of Care, midwives need a product that is designed from their perspective and prioritizes features most relevant to them. The cost of becoming a Certified EHR is significant and this cost is often reflected in both the price and the design quality of the product.
When a product is designed specifically to meet the needs of certification for physician practices, it makes it much harder to meet the needs of a specialty provider like you. So, you may be able to find an EHR that meets certification requirements, but if it doesn’t address the needs of your practice it will be difficult to actually use it. Furthermore, the landscape of EHR certification is changing rapidly and new certification requirements are slated to be released in 2014. We are hesitant to devote resources to adding products that our clients won’t use, only to have those features become unnecessary for complete certification the following year.
What is the Difference Between Modular Certification and Complete Certification?
EHR technology has been developed to meet, at a minimum, all applicable certification criteria adopted by CMS.
EHR technology has been developed to meet the privacy and security criteria adopted by CMS and one or more modules deemed appropriate to the product by the vendor.
How will Private Practice develop new features and stay in line with industry standards?
The greatest part about being a small software company designing a product for just one kind of provider is that we are a part of the midwifery community. With a midwife founder on our design team, all of our current features have been prioritized to be what midwives need most in a charting product. We engage a lively community of midwives who help us develop new features that are both meaningful and useful to everyone.
Finally, we are carefully watching the process of Health Information Technology (HIT) interoperability (or, the ability for one system to talk to another) industry standards development that is currently underway as a result of the HITECH Act. Private Practice plans to be at the forefront of those standards, and is now being recognized as an industry innovator. We were recently invited to present at the IOM/HHS sponsored Heath Data Forum in Washingington, DC. where we were one of 14 featured innovators. We are so excited and proud to be able to showcase midwives as innovators in Health Information Technology.