January 13, 2010

Does The CMS 12/30/09 EHR Incentive Program Require Use of Patient Portals??

Filed under: CMS,EMRs,Meaningful Use,Patient Portals,PHRs — Tags: , , , , , , — HankMayers @ 11:32 am

There are many interesting items in the CMS 12/30/09 EHR document that we’ll be talking about in this blog over the next several weeks. The one I want to touch on today is the material in pp. 92 & 93. This Eligible Practitioner Objective require that “10% of their unique patients are provided timely electronic access to their health information.” The CMS explanation of this requirement on the following page is “…have timely access to their health information (for example, have established a user account and password on a patient portal).”

While the CMS narrative goes on to acknowledge that patient internet access will be a challenge (but believes 10% is reasonable for the present), it fails to acknowledge that patient portals, or Personal Health Record services, are some of the newest and less available features in the EMR market at the present time. There clearly is a lot of effort going on right now to create these features in the EMR product market. But is it really reasonable to make this a 2011 criteria – wouldn’t 2013 be better?

Comments anyone?

Hank Mayers

June 23, 2009

Who is the ‘Coordinator’ within Care Coordination?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — HankMayers @ 5:27 pm

It seems that one of the touchstones for the HITECH components of the ARRA of 2009, is best summed up in this wording from the Medicare incentives:
“… such certified EHR technology is connected in a manner that provides, in accordance with law and standards applicable to the exchange of information, for the electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of care, such as promoting care coordination (my emphasis).”

Indeed, the 6/16/09 ONC Meaningful Use material presented to the national HIT Policy Committee provided a separate criteria matrix for just care coordination (CC).
How the regional HIEs and the provider’s EMRs enable this technology is one of the hot HIT architectural questions of the hour right now. As tempting as it is to weigh in on this topic, I’d like to open some conversation on the related question of who will be the coordinator. After all, the answer will set some architectural directions for related HIT elements. Parenthetically, it has been clear that providers are expecting reimbursement premiums for the additional efforts required to fulfill the promises inherent in CC.
For those who were around when Human Services Integration (HSI) was coined in the 1970s, that experience taught that case management was an additional layer of service or staffing. This staffing need was partially due to the difficulty in obtaining information on available supplemental resources. More importantly, the absence of data standards, and the unpredictability of manual record exchanges, reduced case management objectives to simple advocacy. There was no long term funding interest in simple client advocacy. It did not change/improve the system.
The standardization, the immediate electronic exchange of information, and the focusing on the outcomes from care, are major game changers that hold great promise this time for truly integrating health care.
So, who will be the ‘coordinator’ in health care? I submit that, especially in health care, it will periodically change. For the child, the progression is likely to be first the pediatrician and then the family physician. For the adult, it would be the family physician or an internist, then the geriatric physician. For the adult that experiences a complicated case of cancer, the oncology group often assumes care leadership for a while due to the clinical complications of cancer. A person who experiences a life-threatening accident would shift to a special coordinator. So most persons would likely experience as many as 4 practitioners who would provide CC for them.
Notice that what I am suggesting here is that the ‘coordinator’ practitioner has control (to some extent) and/or awareness over any of the care being delivered by any other practitioner to the patient receiving the coordination. The HIEs and Care Coordination/Management features in the EMRs should be built to make sure that the coordinator is aware of care events in real time.
The 6/16/09 ONC Matrices include an important 2013 objective for reconciliations and exchange of information at times of transition from one setting to another. I caution everyone to not assume that these events are synonymous with transfer of coordinator designation. Some setting transitions would indeed involve a change in the coordinator, but most should not. If we fail to make this distinction, we will loose our ability to have a healthcare professional truly serve as a coordinator of care, just when we finally get the tools to enable him/her to succeed at the job.
What do others think?

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