- Located in Wells, ME
- 3 providers
- 1 location
- 3,292 active patients
- 1,200 patient visits per year
- Need to attest for Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 early due to additional yearly operational initiatives
- Maine immunization registries lack infrastructure to send and submit electronic patient data seamlessly
- Manually entering faxed lab information into EHR
- Practice Management
- Patient Engagement
- Population Health Management
- One of the first 450 providers in US to successfully attest for Meaningful Use 2 in April 2014
- Received exemption from CMS for Measure 16’s requirement to submit patient data to state immunization registries
- Data between EHR and national lab is transmitted seamlessly through automated interface built by athenahealth to satisfy Measure 10
- Collections increased 44.64%*
- Days in Accounts Receivable decreased 29.21%*
- Patient visits decreased by 2.65†
- No show rate decreased by 21.90%**
Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation only began in early April 2014, but Wells Family Practice in Wells, Maine is already one of the first 450 participating providers in America to have done so successfully. Aside from the financial incentives tied to the program for providers, the Meaningful Use journey is really about “embracing the future of care delivery and patient access,” notes Dr. Sam DiCapua, a primary care physician and founder of Wells Family Practice.
“The financial incentives help, but they won’t be there forever,” he adds. “The quality metrics and access to patient data are the more important transitions with Meaningful Use. As clinicians, it’s exciting to jump off the hamster wheel we’ve been on because now that we can make care decisions based on data, we can manage the population health of our practice.”
With Meaningful Use Stage 2, the bar for demonstrating success has been raised across the board. Eligible providers must demonstrate they can meet higher thresholds across 17 core measures and three of six menu measures, such as capturing patient demographics, vital signs and e-prescribing. It also marks the first time that providers are being held responsible for the engagement behavior of their patients. “That’s what is really exciting about this program,” says Dr. DiCapua.
athenahealth combines cloud-based software, networked payer and claims knowledge, and back office support to free up practices from the most time-consuming tasks. The majority of the MU2 core measures were fairly easy to attest for, according to Betsy DiCapua, Wells Family Practice office manager and Dr. DiCapua’s wife, thanks to athenahealth’s service-based approach to helping practices—a proven model that led to an industryleading 95.4% client attestation rate with MU Stage One in 2013.
“A lot of it was basic stuff we were doing anyway,” she notes. “I spoke with our athena account manager back in mid-January and they provided us with feedback to update our workflows to stay on track. There’s a whole crew helping us to attest.”
With the basic measures checked off immediately, Wells Family could focus on the trickier core measures, such as Measure 17, which requires the use of secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients about relevant health information: “Some of our Medicare and older patients don’t have computers or mobile devices,” says Dr. DiCapua. Through constant education of both patients and staff to realize the importance of Measure 17, and the use of athenaCommunicator, the 2013 #1 Best in KLAS patient portal, the practice was able to satisfy this core measure.
Another, Measure 11, aka “Patient Lists,” requires practices to generate lists of patients by specific condition to use for quality improvement, reduction of disparities, research or outreach. “It’s about generating lists of specific patients with specific conditions to ultimately improve quality. Let’s say a patient comes in with diabetes and we might never see them again. We can run a report and they might show up on our quality list. Then, we’ll call them to schedule an office visit,” says Dr. DiCapua.
Using athenaCommunicator, providers can automate the process to run a list of patients with gaps in care and initiate campaigns to reach out and schedule them through ReminderCall.
Additionally, Measure 10 requires practices to incorporate clinical lab-test results into an EHR as structured data. “The hospital would fax us a sheet and we would have to manually update our flowsheet to meet the measure. It was a nightmare,” recounts Dr. DiCapua. So, athenahealth built an interface between Wells Family’s EHR and the national lab; athenahealth also manages, maintains and monitors the performance of the interface so the practice has complete peace of mind. “The interface athena built between our lab and the EHR now populates the quality metric seamlessly without human intervention. It saves us so much time and effort,” says DiCapua.
When it was impossible to meet the Measure 16 requirement to submit electronic patient data to state immunization registries, athenahealth helped Wells Family Practice apply for and secure an exemption from CMS.
“Unfortunately, the state of Maine is problematic with their immunization registries. We’re ready to do it and we have the right data, but the problem is with the state. The infrastructure to meet this measure isn’t set up everywhere—especially outside the city of Portland,” notes Dr. DiCapua. “If we were trying to do this exemption on our own I don’t think we could do it.”
athenahealth’s cloud-based services monitor its clients’ data in real-time, and observe how each is performing against the Meaningful Use requirements. By identifying the measures that are most difficult for its providers, athenahealth can take action to implement changes to its service offerings, provide education and additional support—all to help improve client performance and enable caregivers to attest successfully.
“It you can’t see it, you can’t fix it,” notes Dr. DiCapua. “And athena sees everything. Medicine has been in the Dark Ages until recently and Meaningful Use is helping physicians to make care more robust, affordable, and ultimately at lower cost because we’re helping patients be more engaged with their care.”
The bottom line with Meaningful Use is that clinicians and staff have to buy in and sell the vision of patient engagement to their patients, says Dr. DiCapua “Without it and the right partner helping every step of the way, it’s an uphill battle,” he adds.
Says Mrs. DiCapua: “We would have had no chance [achieving Meaningful Use Stage 2] without athena. One-hundred percent in my mind that is how I feel. I always feel like athena was giving me assignments and easy steps to achieve attestation since starting the process back in January. It’s the most proactive organization to give us what we need to succeed.”
© July 2014
* Our clients see an average 6% increase in collections and 32% decrease in days in accounts receivable. This average is based on a weighted average for athenahealth clients with valid pre-athenahealth benchmark data that had their 15-month anniversary with athenahealth between January 1, 2010, and October 31, 2013.
** Our ReminderCallSM clients see, on average, an 8% lower no-show rate. This average is based on the change in average no-show rate among clients with ReminderCall that had beenwith athenahealth for at least 21 months and had their one-year anniversary on that service between April 1, 2010, and September 30, 2013.
† Based on a comparison of the average change in patient visits for clients without athenaClinicals with that for clients with that service that had been with athenahealth for at least 21 months and had their one-year anniversary on that service between January 1, 2010, and September 30, 2013.
Dr. Sam DiCapua participates in athenahealth’s Physician Maven Program. For more information on this program, please visit http://www.athenahealth.com/clients/client-advocate-programs.