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Putting Six Months of Meaningful Use Stage 2 Data to Use

by Allison LaValley, Executive Director of Clinical Performance

We’re almost three quarters of the way through the first year of Meaningful Use Stage 2 and it’s shaping up to be much more challenging than the industry anticipated. You’ve probably already seen two related bits of “negative” news: that very few providers nationwide had attested to Stage 2 so far, and that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is delaying the overall Meaningful Use program deadlines for providers who have been unable to upgrade to a 2014 “certified” EHR technology (CERT).

We seem to be the exception. Every athenahealth provider has been using our 2014 CERHT throughout the entire year, and 37% of providers pursuing Medicare Meaningful Use Stage 2 have already attested. We recognize that while this success rate is much higher than it is for providers using other certified EHR technology, it is still only 37%.

So, what’s so hard about Stage 2? Well, back in April I mentioned three measures proving to be the most challenging for providers to demonstrate. Now, five months later, they are still holding back most providers from Stage 2 success:

  1. Getting patients to send a (clinically relevant) secure message to the provider
  2. Sending preventative care reminders to patients
  3. Making sure patients view, download, or transmit their health information online

As a cloud-based service, we have the benefit of being able to see and track how clients are using our products and services, and understand why they may be having trouble with certain measures. By pinpointing workflows that aren’t setting our clients up for success, we can also work to improve them.

Here’s how we’re using six months of Meaningful Use Stage 2 data to improve our client (and patient) facing workflows, to ensure the other 63% of our providers succeed this year.

Maximize the number of patients using the patient portal through effective promotion

We found that few clients consistently register their patients to use their patient portal. Of courses, it’s hard for patients to view their health information or send a secure message to their provider without using the portal. Industry trends consistently report that patient adoption of a portal is more likely when the physician or provider promotes it—and the easiest time to promote it, is while the patient is in front of you.

To encourage and guide this effort, we’re adding a patient engagement section to our clinical encounter workflows, which will alert providers when a patient either isn’t registered or isn’t using the portal. This point-of-care alert will prompt a conversation between the provider and patient, with talking points about the benefits of using a patient portal -- that they can access their health information online, and can send their provider secure questions about their care instead of calling the office.

Make the portal easy to use and engaging for patients

It’s worth repeating: If patients don’t register for the portal, they certainly can’t view health data online or send a secure message. To boost portal adoption, we’re streamlining the registration process, making it even easier for patients to register while in their provider’s office or from their mobile device. We’ve also made improvements to our portal landing page and health information pages so that patients can always see they have the ability to send their provider a question (secure message).


Support targeted clinical outreach by providing relevant content and tools

We already offer a set of patient outreach campaigns (or, “population health campaigns”) that focus on identifying gaps in preventative or routine care, and then contact patients via phone, text or email to schedule that care. To improve the opportunity for providers to meet the preventive care measure, we’ve expanded our clinical outreach library to include health reminders through these new campaigns, including flu vaccine awareness, heart health & stroke prevention awareness, and fitness and nutrition information.

Technology will only get you so far with Meaningful Use Stage 2. Our biggest piece of advice for participating providers is to focus on getting your patients on the patient portal. Make sure your providers are promoting the portal’s benefits, and how patients can use it to better manage their health. Next, determine what type of preventative care reminders are most relevant to your patient panel and begin outreach to those patients.

Not sure how to start? Check out what’s worked for other clients, including Alan Strumeyer, MD, a New Jersey urologist.

Join us Wednesday, September 10th for a special webinar titled, "The Tools and Strategies to Tackle Meaningful Use Stage 2 Requirements."

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