Customer Spotlight: Dr. Solomon talks about meeting the measures of Meaningful Use
This week the eligible professionals at one of our customers, Behavioral Health Associates in Chattanooga, TN, successfully attested to meeting the Stage 1 measures of Meaningful Use under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and received $61,449 in incentive payments. We sat down with medical director Dr. Lee Solomon to talk about the program and their use of the certified complete electronic health record CareLogic Enterprise.
Why did your agency decide to pursue the EHR Incentive Programs?
We transitioned to EHR technology a long time ago – before there were incentive programs. It is the most rational, logical thing to do to make the practice more effective and efficient. When the incentive programs were introduced, we saw that we were doing most of the work outlined by the measures anyway; the requirements were just asking us to be better providers and giving us money in return for the privilege.
How did you prepare your Eligible Professionals for this project?
Our four eligible doctors are independent contractors, so we are letting them keep some of the incentive money – an offer that made selling them on the program easier. It’s a behavioral plan with a reward! One of our doctors was fairly resistant, and we discussed how we could help incorporate the new requirements into existing workflows in order to ease the burden.
But the truth is, we were just tweaking what we had been doing in CareLogic Enterprise for four years. None of the doctors would ever want to go back to paper charts.
How much re-engineering of workflows did you have to do?
The extra pieces of data that Meaningful Use participation requires us to gather are not that onerous and are even helpful. The intake staff helped by filling in demographic info that we weren’t keeping track of. We were already doing ePrescription, and we really should have medication allergies documented so we’re not prescribing the wrong things. We weren’t taking blood pressure readings and weight measurements, but in retrospect, why weren’t we doing that? We put scales and electronic blood pressure cuffs in the room. These extra things don’t take that much time, and even though getting the EPs to be consistent with best practices takes some effort, it’s been very useful having that information.
How was it working with Qualifacts on your agency’s pursuit of Meaningful Use?
Mary Givens [Qualifacts’ Meaningful Use Program Manager] has been invaluable. We couldn’t have done it without her doing the legwork and taking us step-by-step through the process. She helped us with interpreting the requirements, showing how to use CareLogic to meet the measures, and pulling the reports. If it weren’t for her knowledge, I would have had to hire someone else to help us with the program.
Now that you are experiencing success with the program, what advice would you give to other behavioral health providers about pursuing the EHR Incentive Programs?
You need an EHR whether you go for the incentives or not; the advantages of ePrescription, anywhere access, integrated billing and more make for better healthcare. There’s a learning curve, but that’s only once. The data entry curve – getting information in there for the first time – is time-consuming at first but pays for itself in time with data access and quality of care, ease of use and efficiencies. And the incentive money makes those learning curves more palatable. It’s difficult sometimes to change our behavior, but with patience you’ll see the reward.