The New Year will bring with it a host of Meaningful Use changes. Is your medical practice prepared for the new Stage 2 requirements? Now’s the time to take action. Use the fall to invest in upgrades, education and new connections that will make your medical practice ready for the January 1, 2014 Meaningful Use start date.
Here are five tips to help your office prepare for Stage 2:
- Catch up on the latest – Do a quick review of the new rules under Stage 2 Meaningful Use. CMS has a great resource online to help you see what is new, what is removed and what has changed from Stage 1. Ask your Meaningful Use vendor about what tips, webinars and support they’re offering to your practice as Stage 2 approaches. Assign someone in your medical practice to be the lead on Meaningful Use education and reporting for your team.
- Get connected to your labs and imaging centers – If your EHR is not already connected for electronic ordering and results with your neighborhood labs and imaging centers, now is the time to start those conversations. For Stage 2, you will need to have 55% of lab results stored as structured data in your EHR and 10% of imaging results (if the imaging menu is chosen). Some EHR vendors charge up to $1,500 per connection but others offer this connectivity to your practice for free. In either case, setup can take a couple weeks. Keep in mind that not all connections are equal. Make absolutely sure that your current EHR is offering connections that are Meaningful Use 2014-ready.
- Start collecting patient email addresses – Under Stage 2 guidelines, you will need to grant at least 50% of patients electronic access to their health records, and at least 5% of patients will need to actually view, download, or transmit their health data using an online portal. Implement a workflow in your practice to collect email address with each patient intake today to start boosting your patient communication numbers. If your EHR doesn’t already have a patient portal – ask then about the launch plans sooner rather than later.
Get comfortable with e-prescribing – If you’re not already e-prescribing regularly, start now. It’s one of the easiest ways to ease into a new EHR workflow. With Stage 2, you will need to e-prescribe at least 50% of applicable medications during your reporting period. Practice Fusion can get you set up with a free EHR account and e-prescribing in less than 24-hours.
- Take a close look at your EHR – This is the year of the EHR switch for a reason. An estimated 90% of vendors aren’t going to be ready for Stage 2 Meaningful Use by January 1 – and even the vendors who are already certified are facing long backlogs and upgrade delays. It could cost you as much as $10,000 per provider according to CMS estimates to make the upgrade to a Stage 2-ready version. If you’re thinking about a switch, use the next couple months to evaluate options, test out different systems and move over your workflow with minimal disruption.
As winter approaches, give your medical practice a head start on new Meaningful Use guidelines. By working closely with your EHR vendor and with the team inside your practice, you can make January 1, 2014 a stress-free start to Meaningful Use Stage 2.
Lauren Fifield is Senior Health Policy Advisor at Practice Fusion – the free, web-based EHR. She advocates for policies that promote the transformation of health care delivery through innovation in health IT and serves on the Executive Committee of the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA).