A Modular Approach to EHR Adoption

This article was originally published by HCPLive.

In June, the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee (HITPC), which advises the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology in the Department of Health and Human Services, voted to approve a significant delay in requiring providers to meet stage two meaningful use (MU) until 2014. The HITPC heard from both the vendor and provider communities, who told it that the current schedule for compliance with stage two MU objectives in 2013 posed a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to meaningful use in 2011.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national health IT coordinator, recently agreed with the conclusions of the HITPC, citing the committee’s reasoning that the widespread deployment of the next set of electronic health record (EHR) functionality and updating systems in less than six months may not be feasible and may have a detrimental effect on keeping providers on the meaningful use path. The ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services anticipate releasing their proposed rules on MU of EHRs and standards and certification criteria by the end of this year or early 2012, accepting public comments about it, and finalizing it next summer.

HITPC’s letter to the national health IT coordinator stated that the proposed delay in stage two MU would only affect those eligible professionals and hospitals who attest to stage one MU in 2011. Those who attest to stage one MU for the first time in 2012 would still have the same expectation for meeting the stage two MU criteria in 2014. The potential delay really provides more incentive to move forward with implementation in 2011, since there would be more time to implement stage two MU. And the requirements for stage two MU can be more rigorous than would otherwise be possible if it were to begin in 2013 as originally planned.

A Modular Approach

The delay of stage two MU may allow smaller practices to implement incremental modular or bundled health IT approaches in 2011, such as a combination of a certified ePrescribing and patient registry, since they won’t have to revise their workflows until 2014 and they will still be able to collect their payments on stage one MU in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

But is a modular EHR approach best for you? Physician practices will need to evaluate whether a modular or complete EHR approach is more appropriate for them. A modular EHR can be put together combining several certified EHR modules so that the combination of modules (e.g., ePrescribing, clinical decision support, and disease registries) meets all the requirements for a “qualified EHR,” making the practice eligible for incentives. A complete EHR is a system that meets all government requirements for a “qualified EHR” and is certified by one of the federally-approved certification bodies.

To begin, find out what it will take to integrate any potential EHR technology with your practice management system and take into consideration specific requirements of your specialty or subspecialty. One size does not fit all practices. Much depends on your current health IT use and your readiness to adopt additional technology and assessment of your workflows and financial implications of EHR adoption. Adding new functionality through certified modules is a particularly appealing option if you are satisfied with your existing PMS and other technology.

The AMAGINE Physician Portal

If you find that your practice is not ready to go completely paperless, a modular approach to EHR implementation may be the right alternative to a complete EHR. The AMAGINE physician portal offers both types of solutions to help meet your needs (Amagine Inc. is a subsidiary of the American Medical Association).

Your practice can benefit from a quick implementation by using a system that combines individual certified modules to help qualify for MU, according to AMAGINE. The AMAGINE physician portal has several modular solutions, such as Rcopia-MU or Wellcentive Patient Registry, combined with either Rcopia Certified or Amagine ePrescribe (powered by Allscripts), that offer physician practices a great way to take manageable steps into health IT implementation. For AMAGINE webinars or demos on available solutions, go to www.amagine.com and click on webinars.

To schedule a free assessment with an AMAGINE consultant to help determine which modular approaches may be the right one for your practice or if your practice is ready for a full EHR, call (800) 262-0411 or go to www.amagine.com for an online assessment. To learn more about successful adoption of health IT solutions, go to www.ama-cmeonline.com/health_it and obtain AMA PRA category one credit after reviewing a series of six short video tutorials.