For some healthcare providers, the adoption and use of health information technology (HIT) remains problematic.
A recent study by Quest Diagnostics confirms this. The 2018 study, “Stalled progress on the path to value-based care,” is the third annual study commissioned by Quest Diagnostics to gauge perceptions of primary care physicians (PCPs) and health plan executives about the nation’s journey to value-based healthcare. The study, which included 451 respondents—300 who are PCPs—took a look at HIT and the tools physicians need to be successful.
In this study, roughly one quarter (24%) of PCPs say the greatest barrier to accelerating HIT is incompatibility between systems.
For many PCPs, HIT starts with the electronic health record (EHR). Today the use of EHRs continues to be critical to participating in CMS Incentive Programs like MACRA. But some practices are discovering that their EHR is not ready to meet the standards of this program, which includes being certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). ONC defines a certified EHR as one that meets the functionality and security requirements set by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to qualify for incentive payments.
To remain ONC-certified, EHRs must adopt extensive standards-based interoperability features. Interoperability is defined as the ability for 2 or more disparate health technologies to communicate with each other and to exchange or share patient information. This clinical information is to be used under a standard set of guidelines to coordinate patient care, ultimately improving patient outcomes. This EHR interoperability is expected by 2019. Both the 2014 and 2015 editions of certified EHR technology (CEHRT) require extensive standards-based interoperability, and current EHRs must be certified for these editions.
But it’s not just the EHR being compatible or compliant with CMS programs that PCPs need for success. To bring efficiency to a practice, look for an EHR that can also interface with:
- External systems. The Quest study cited roughly 4 in 5 PCPs (85%) said leveraging patient data from outside the EHR is necessary to achieve value-based care. The EHR should be able to interface with public registries to manage patient safety and population health, to ultimately improve quality of care.
- Internal systems. Don’t overlook the ability for an EHR to sync with systems inside the practice, such as practice management (PM) software for scheduling and billing. Having an integrated EHR, PM, and revenue cycle management (RCM) to organize the clinical, administrative and financial aspects of a physician’s practice can be an effective path towards reducing the amount of time between providing a service and receiving payment. Software that follows the patient from the first point of contact through the office visit and beyond can greatly improve office efficiency.
- Labs. An EHR that can pull up laboratory results for the physician to review is also important. In fact, the Quest study cited that 96% of PCPs said patients’ lab results provide meaningful insight that influences their care.
- ePrescribing. The ability to use the EHR to order and renew prescriptions electronically can not only help enhance patient safety, but also help PCPs increase efficiencies. Look for an EHR with access to prescription history and that helps manage health plan complexities with easily identified, tiered formulary alternatives, patient eligibility, coverage, and copay information.
- New care models. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMH), Health Information Exchanges, and evolving care coordination models will require technology that enables connectivity between multiple systems, whether in a physician office or hospital. Look for an EHR vendor that has the ability to make those connections and enable care coordination in your community.
To learn more about how an EHR from Quest Diagnostics can improve system compatibility and help support your practice’s journey to value-based care, call 1.888.491.7900. More information on the Quest Diagnostics 2018 value-based care survey can be found here.