EHR and Health IT Consulting
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Technical Doctor's insights and information collated from various sources on EHR selection, EHR implementation, EMR relevance for providers and decision makers
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CMS Extends Hospital 2014 Meaningful Use Reporting Deadline | EHRintelligence.com

CMS Extends Hospital 2014 Meaningful Use Reporting Deadline | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

While this week marks the end of one and beginning of another year, those in the healthcare industry should take note of all that transpired in the previous year to avoid similar setbacks in 2015. This is especially true for matters scheduled to have been addressed over the last 12 months.

ICD-10 delays, meaningful use changes, health IT vendor competition, and EHR implementation gaffes. Based on the interest of our readers, those were the most popular topics of 2014 on EHRIntelligence.com.

ICD-10 transition delay one more year

More than any other topic on our news site, ICD-10 garners the greatest amount of our readership’s attention and given its high stakes, it makes sense. This past October was supposed to usher in a new era of clinical coding — the move from ICD-9 to ICD-10 — and put the United States on par with other leading nations in terms of healthcare documentation.

The Congressional debate over the sustainable growth rate (SGR), however, swiftly dashed those visions. Close to one week after expectations began to build that Congress would vote on an SGR patch that included a one-year ICD-10 compliance delay, the Senate voted in favor of the bill. While the rest of the nation took this as business as usual on the Hill, the healthcare industry scrambled to put new plans together for postponing their 2014 ICD-10 implementation activities.

What the delay meant to providers depended on where they practices. Larger healthcare organizations reported high levels of ICD-10 readiness while some smaller physician groups and practices were completely unsure where they stood. No matter their view of the most recent ICD-10 delay, most are committed to removing ICD-10 implementation pain points to be ICD-10 ready by Oct. 1, 2015.

The bending but not breaking of meaningful use

This past year began with eligible professionals and hospitals working to achieve Stage 2 Meaningful Use, but that is hard to do when certified EHR technology is unavailable.

Early hints of changes to meaningful use reporting in 2014 emerged as early as February when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduce a new meaningful use hardship exception dealing with a lack of available CEHRT.

In September, the federal agency finalized a rule intended to give providers greater flexibility in meeting meaningful use requirements in 2014 — known as the flexibility rule. However, this did not turn out to be CMS’s final move.

The flexibility rule was followed by the reopening of the meaningful use hardship exception application submission period for both EPs and EHs and the extension of the 2014 meaningful use attestation period for EHs and critical access hospitals through the end of the year.

Despite their intentions, neither has put to rest repeated calls for 2015 meaningful use reporting requirement changes by industry stakeholders.

Heading to a showdown

Prognosticators in health information technology (IT) have foreseen consolidation in the marketplace over the next few years. But it is unlikely that they saw things playing out as they did in 2014.

Cerner’s acquisition of Siemens Health Siemens over the summer is an example of how quickly and dramatically the market can change. Most viewed the maneuver as a power play by the Kansas City-based health IT company to contend with Epic Systems and its market share among health systems and hospitals.

While the growth of both Cerner and Epic continues to loom large over the industry, they still have to contend with numerous other players in the ambulatory care space, especially given Epic’s recent loss to athenahealth as the top overall software vendor over the past year.

Expect more to come.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease

When EHR implementations go well, those involved in the process are more than willing to share details of their experiences. When they don’t, it is like pulling teeth.

Poorly managed EHR implementations can prove costly. The University of Arizona Health Network saw red of a different variety as a result of its Epic EHR adoption. Whidbey General Hospital felt the financial effects of a software glitch in its MEDITECH EHR that crippled its billing system and left it short on cash. Meanwhile, a Cerner EHR implementation gone awry led to the dismissal of Athens Regional Medical Center’s CEO.

If 2014 was a busy year, then 2015 is only likely to be busier. Stay with us as we continue our coverage of meaningful use, EHR and ICD-10 implementation, and anything else health IT-related that comes our way.



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CureMD Selects DrFirst for Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS)

CureMD Selects DrFirst for Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
CureMD has selected DrFirst to provide controlled substance e-prescribing (EPCS) capability to users of CureMD EHR, its cloud-based electronic health record system.

CureMD is adding DrFirst’s EPCS GoldSM 2.0 controlled substance e-prescribing functionality as part of its effort to help providers nationwide curtail the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. Additionally, CureMD EHR is used by a significant number of providers in the state of New York and its EPCS functionality will support compliance with New York’s Internet System for Tracking Over Prescribing Law (I-STOP), which requires electronic prescribing for all legend and controlled drugs beginning March 27, 2015.

“Before implementing EPCS Gold, many of our providers wanted to be able to send controlled substance scripts electronically,” said Bilal Hashmat, CEO of CureMD. “We chose DrFirst’s solution because the technology was easily integrated into our EHR, is cost-effective, and allowed our users to begin using EPCS quickly. DrFirst also manages provider onboarding and identity proofing for individual users and ensures they complete the necessary steps to start sending controlled substance prescriptions.”

While many doctors have access to or are familiar with e-prescribing for legend drugs, e-prescribing for controlled medications (Schedules II through V) requires additional components as governed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), including provider identity proofing, two-factor authentication functionality, and enhanced audit capabilities.

Controlled substance prescriptions represent approximately 10 percent of all prescriptions issued in the U.S. This coupled with greater technical requirements have historically slowed provider adoption of EPCS capability. However, EPCS offers significant social benefits to the greater healthcare system as it has been proven to assist providers in reducing prescription drug abuse and drug diversion, as well as in identifying ‘doctor shoppers’ attempting to attain controlled medications, such as hydrocodone combination drugs which are abused at epidemic levels.

DrFirst currently processes over 60 percent of all controlled substance electronic prescriptions nationwide, making it the leader in this field. The company’s recent data shows that provider adoption of EPCS is now increasing significantly. In the last three-month period, August through October 2014, EPCS prescription volume has jumped by more than 200 percent compared to the same period one year ago. Growing provider recognition of the benefits of EPCS, the rising number of pharmacies nationwide that are EPCS-enabled, and the greater number of EHR, EMR and HIS systems that are ready to handle EPCS, such as CureMD EHR, have all contributed to the large increase in EPCS volume. However, New York’s I-STOP law is seen by many as a leading indicator that similar initiatives will be pursued by other states and many healthcare organizations and providers have been encouraged to pursue EPCS in recent months as a result.

“Controlled substance management should be top-of-mind for EHR, EMR and HIS system vendors,” said G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst. “For those with New York providers, they must allot time not only for the integration and implementation of the EPCS functionality itself, but also for the identity proofing process that each provider must complete. CureMD moved quickly to ensure its New York users will be ready to meet the requirements of the I-STOP mandate, which means CureMD is also ready to support providers in any of the 49 states and the District of Columbia where EPCS is now legal.”
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