PQRS and Prada: The Importance of Building Your Quality Wardrobe

prada-blogWith summer now in full swing, I’m going through my summer attire and have found myself questioning my fashion style. I feel like it’s time to trade in my classic look for something more stylish!

I see a similar trend when I talk with clients about PQRS reporting—they are looking to revamp their reporting style. With more providers subject to penalties under both the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and the Value-Based Payment Modifier (V-BPM) programs, there is more riding on quality reporting—so it is important to ensure you are dressed for success.

Why building the right quality reporting “wardrobe” is important to your revenue:

If not reporting PQRS in 2015:

  • All PQRS-eligible providers are subject to a 2% PQRS penalty in 2017 and
  • An additional Value-Based Payment Modifier penalty based on group size:
    • 2% for Solo practitioners and groups of 2-9 providers
    • 4% for groups of 10 or more providers

If reporting PQRS in 2015, practices will be evaluated on quality and cost:

  • Solo practitioners and groups of 2-9 PQRS-eligible providers could see a potential increase of up to 2% in 2017
  • Groups of 10 or more providers could receive between a 4% penalty and a 4% incentive

Select the option that’s the best style and fit for you from the list below:

This chart summarizes the PQRS reporting options. The definitive source of requirements is: www.cms.gov/pqrs.

This chart summarizes the PQRS reporting options. The definitive source of requirements is: www.cms.gov/pqrs.

Are you dressed for quality reporting success? Let us know what ensemble fits you the best!

Cultivating Innovation – One Hack at a Time

HackathonNo lazy hazy days of summer for SRS. This week SRS is hosting its inaugural annual Summer Hackathon. What is a hackathon? A hackathon is an event for computer engineers, programmers, designers, and other creatives from across the company to collaborate in the design and build of new products and/or features within a finite amount of time. The word hackathon is a portmanteau of the words “hack” and “marathon.” “Hack” is used in the sense of exploratory programming activities, and “marathon” is used to convey the intensity, competiveness, and focus required to deliver a working solution in a short period of time.

So why hack? These intense tech benders create a venue for self-expression, creativity, and innovation leveraging technology and collaboration. It allows us to approach challenges differently, which can result in innovative ideas and solutions to existing and future problems in healthcare. In fact, hackathon ideas often turn into real-world products and features.

The theme for this year’s Summer Hackathon is based on healthcare productivity. We received over 40 ideas from across the organization—ranging from existing product line enhancements to new product lines based on emerging industry trends. Out of all the ideas submitted, the product development team has selected 15 ideas to pursue. Each team will demo their concepts in a “science fair” style format at the conclusion of the event. Prizes and recognition will be awarded based on presentation, creativity, and impact on healthcare productivity.

The team is very excited about our first hackathon. We believe investing in innovation is paramount to our clients’ success, and leveraging tools like hackathons to foster and cultivate innovation will ultimately provide premier creative solutions that will drive value for our clients and their patients.

It all starts with an idea… any ideas to share?

Patient Engagement Pride: We All Can Use a P.E.P. Talk!

cheerleaderPatient engagement has become a confounding challenge in the world of healthcare. It isn’t enough to simply offer a portal; in order to successfully meet the requirements of Meaningful Use, patients actually have to participate. I mean, c’mon, what kind of tomfoolery is this?

Terms such as “obstacle,” “necessary evil,” and “setup for failure” were commonly uttered in conversations about this engagement initiative. Many were asking, “Why would a patient log-in to our portal?” and “How am I expected to drive adoption?” Therein lies the rub. There is a direct correlation between practice engagement and patient engagement. If a practice is willing to make a few adjustments to their attitude and behaviors around this initiative, it can be beneficial for all involved.

Remove Meaningful Use from the equation
You must be thinking, “Huh?” Forget about it. Engagement isn’t about meeting a government requirement, it is about better serving your patients. Though your practice specializes in medicine, you are in the service industry. Take pride in that. Your goal should be to create the best possible patient experience and outcomes. This will create a loyal patient base that will allow the business to thrive in an ever changing market.

Create value for your patients
Remember to make this about them. They need to know why it’s worth their time to create another user name and password. This is about translating features into benefits.

Feature: Availability of on-line forms
Benefit: Eliminates the need to show up 30 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment. You’ll have more time to spend on things that you like to do.

Feature: Secure messaging
Benefit: Avoid sitting on hold, playing phone tag, having your message lost or having your message improperly relayed. Your message will end up in the hands of the person that can best serve you.

Feature: Availability of medical record
Benefit: You have detailed medical information available 24 hours a day. If you can’t remember the name of that really effective medication that you recently took, it is only a few mouse clicks away.

Feature: Online Bill Pay
Benefit: I can pay from anywhere, at any time without having to search for a check and stamp.

Feature: Education and Care Compliance
Benefit: With the movement towards paying physicians for their outcomes, it is increasingly important to engage patients in their health and make it easier for them to comply with the care plan the physician prescribed.

Practice what you preach
Verbalizing value is one thing, ensuring that it exists is another. Make it a point to reply to messages quickly and do not be shy about using the portal to initiate conversation. Be mindful of the data that you’re entering in your EHR. If you’re taking shortcuts, the patient will know. If the patient has made you aware of pertinent medical data, ensure that is represented properly in their medical record.

Think about the possibilities
Now take a moment to think about how nice it would be for you if…

  • You had less congestion in your waiting room because intake forms were on file in advance
  • You had fewer repetitive phone calls from patients wondering why you haven’t returned their call(s)
  • You had fewer requests for miscellaneous medical details
  • You had faster turnaround times on payments due to on-line bill pay
  • You were able to see more patients but still leave on time

I’m personally challenging you to become engaged with engagement. By emphasizing its value and taking practice-wide pride in making your patient portal a success, you too, will see just how powerful of a tool it can be.

Doctors: Not a Jack of all Trades… A Master of One!

Doctors: Not a Jack of all Trades… A Master of One!As the leader of a high-performance marketing team, I strive to stay abreast of the latest developments and best practices in the HIT industry and my chosen profession. But, no matter how prepared I am, I cannot be successful at what I do if I am expected to be an expert in every aspect of marketing. My expertise in leadership, building teams that excel, and developing professionals to reach their highest abilities, does not prepare me to be successful at writing HTML code, or designing graphics in the latest style. I need a team of experts to contribute their individual talents if we are to succeed.

This is even more apparent in the medical profession. In today’s world doctors are expected to not only be experts in their particular medical field, they are also expected to be experts in human resources, business management, and a plethora of other disciplines that serve their practice needs and government requirements. Besides earning an M.D., they practically need an M.B.A. in order to run a profitable and growing business. They also have to be policy analysts and experts to even have a chance of understanding the volumes of regulations the government has enacted and with which they’re expected to comply. In addition, they are expected to be IT specialists in order to meet data exchange and interoperability demands. And don’t even get me started on the statistical analysis required to understand outcomes and value-based reimbursements.

I expect that one of the reasons that doctors chose their profession in the first place was because they had a passion for science and service. So, to focus on the profession for which they have been educated and prepared, doctors need to find other experts to support them by focusing on the business of medicine.

It all comes down to one thing… the patient. In order to best serve your patients’ needs you must spend your time mastering the art of medicine, while letting your team of experts master the art of your business.

A final prognosis: building a strong team of experts will ensure the health of your patients and practice.

Where is your focus directed?

90-Day MU Reporting: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Rules & RegulationsJust as physicians were considering abandoning Meaningful Use and surrendering to future Medicare penalties, CMS issued a proposed rule for 2015 that breathes new life into the program. If full-year reporting was perceived as the insurmountable obstacle, the proposed reduction to a 90-day reporting period should recapture interest.

Although a proposed rule is not final until it is codified as a final rule—not anticipated until August—past experience has demonstrated that the major structural features typically survive as proposed. The shortened reporting period was announced as CMS’ intention in January and formally proposed last Friday. I think it is fair to say that one can be reasonably confident in this particular provision of the rule.

As for the other features of this proposed rule: In a former EMR Straight Talk post, I wrote, “Even more intriguing to me than the change in reporting period is . . . the intention to “modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.” CMS has come through in this regard and proposed changes for 2015 through 2017. The revisions encourage a focus on the advanced use of EHR technology to support health information exchange, consumer/patient engagement, public health reporting, and quality improvement. This is the narrowed focus that stakeholders, (including SRS on behalf of physicians), have been demanding since the program’s inception.

The following are some other highlights of the proposed rule for 2015 through 2017:

  1. Reporting would be streamlined: Many Stage 2 measures would not be individually reportable, particularly the paper-based or box-checking measures. Caveat: this does not, however, mean that the data would no longer be required–the information would still be necessary for the patient portal, for the summaries exchanged between providers, and for CQM reporting.
     
  2. Patient engagement measures would be dramatically revamped:
    • The threshold for “VDT”, (View, Download, or Transmit), would be reduced from 5% to “one patient.”
    • Secure messaging would have to “be enabled,” but there would be no threshold to meet.
  1. To simplify the overall MU structure for practices that have physicians in different stages, all physicians would report on the same measures—a modified set of Stage 2 requirements. Stage 1 providers, however, would be able to exclude measures which go beyond the requirements they were expecting to report.

If you want to ensure that the above changes are included in the final rule, submit a comment to CMS by June 15. CMS receives plenty of comments opposed to particular components of its rules, but specifically asks for positive comments on the features that stakeholders do support.

Travel and Technology: It all Comes Down to Comfort

airplane-blogI have a confession. I am a travel snob. When I travel, I want to travel with as much luxury and as many conveniences as possible. You may ask yourself, is there really a difference between Boarding Group 5 and Boarding Group 1? Yes—absolutely. Sitting in that marginally larger seat and sipping that complimentary pre-flight beverage makes the next several hours of claustrophobic internment so much more bearable.

Recently, returning home from the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in Las Vegas, I faced a travel-snob dilemma. I had a six-hour red-eye flight back to New Jersey, but not enough status with the airline for a free upgrade. The question was, was it worth paying for the upgrade to have the extra comfort and the extra sleep, and maybe a more productive next day at work? Or should I just keep my money in my pocket, grin and bear a middle seat, and suffer the jet-lag consequences? After all, I would end up at my destination either way. As so often happens, I was well aware of the problem, but I wasn’t sure if I was willing to devote resources to the solution.

I heard similar dilemmas voiced by many of the physicians as I walked the floor at the AAOS conference: “The experience with my current EHR is a nightmare. It’s so hard to use that I’m spending hours every evening just finishing up the work I should have done during the day! When I do try to use my EHR during the visit, it interferes with my interaction with the patient. Why do I have to use this thing if it creates so many problems?”

Just like budget travelers sitting in the back of the plane next to the bathroom and looking up at first class, many physicians with bad EHRs end up thinking: “I should have spent more time considering what a less-than-ideal solution would cost me, not just the price tag. It would have been worth it to invest in an option that works for me.” The cost of saving on an airline ticket is only a few uncomfortable hours and maybe a bit of jet lag. But ask yourself this: What is the cost of choosing the wrong EHR?