The Meaningful Use program has been the biggest force driving Electronic Health Record adoption over the last 5 years in the country. As of today, more than 80% of nationwide physicians are using certified EHR software to ‘meaningfully’ attest for pre set performance metrics and are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in government incentives. To date, the government has paid out more than $23 billion in Meaningful Use incentives under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. What’s more, new doctors are largely being helped by these incentive payments and are able to absorb the cost of implementing an EHR software in their newly established practices.

Challenges for small practices

While earning incentives under the Meaningful Use program can be a straightforward process for large health care centers, it is not the same for small practices who are already grappling with a multitude of issues. Thankfully though, they have support available in the form of regional extension centers (RECs) established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and local medical societies of each state.

Read more: Best Practices for Meaningful Use Preparation

According to a report, “A National Study of Challenges to Electronic Health Record Adoption and Meaningful Use” published in February 2014, there are a host of issues for practices that can be segregated into practice issues, vendor issues, attestation process issues and finally, Meaningful Use measures.

 

Figure 1: EHR, MU issues facing small practices

Practice issues

Issues relating to the practice itself are one of the biggest factors why the Meaningful Use program is so complex for small physicians. They can range from workflow adoption, provider engagement, training, vendor selection, administrative, financial and staffing. Collectively, these can bog down a newly established or small practice and hinder their process of earning Meaningful Use incentives.

It is imperative for any practice to act appropriately and ensure the transition to the Electronic Health Records is smooth and error-free.

Vendor issues

Sometimes, problems with a vendor who is not technically sound or experienced enough can also cause headaches for small practices. There can be upgrade issues, delays in implementation, certification requirements, slow reporting, inadequate training materials, lack of vendor support, technical issues and lastly, inaccurate reporting. Together, these issues on part of your vendor can seriously challenge your bid to attest for the Meaningful Use program in time and earn incentives.

Especially in the case of small practices, where the deadline of July 1, 2014 to start the Meaningful Use program is nearing with every second, you need to be up and running as soon as possible in order to avoid penalties that come into effect from 2015.

Read more: All you need to know about Meaningful Use Deadline – Infographic

Attestation process issues

These are the issues relating to the Meaningful Use program whereby you are not able to attest properly in order to receive incentive payments. Some of the issues plaguing this process are calculating patient volume, Medicaid program not running and lack of technical/administrative support for Medicare and Medicaid programs.

You must make sure that you are consulting reputable and experienced Meaningful Use experts because only people with in-depth knowledge of the matter will be able to help you.

Consult a Meaningful Use expert today. Call (212) 852 0279 today to get started.

Meaningful Use measures

Lastly, Meaningful Use measures are the biggest reason why small practices suffer to attest for the Program. Reporting on Core Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs), Alternate Core CQMs, Additional CQMs and Menu measures can be very taxing, cumbersome and difficult to manage for new and small practices.

For new practices, there are about 16 Core and Menu measures to look after while it gets all the more tough in Meaningful Use Stage 2.

New challenges emerge as providers progress toward MU, creating opportunities to preempt large-scale issues with timely interventions. These interventions must take into account organizational and cultural dynamics, increasing the need to identify multiple, often setting-specific, solutions.

If identified quickly and a timely response is provided, problems may be halted before becoming widespread or impeding progress.