There’s Still Time to Reach Your Full Potential

James Kirchner, OD

2012 is a very important year from an EHR meaningful use incentive perspective. A year that should not be ignored if you have plans to move into a certified EHR system and get the most incentive money possible from Uncle Sam. Under the HITECH act, 2012 is that last chance to get the full $44,000 under the Medicare meaningful use program. Here’s how it works.

The HITECH incentive plan began January 1, 2011. On that date, CMS began the meaningful use program under the first of three stages. In Stage 1, which is the easiest of the three stages, an eligible provider (both optometrists and ophthalmologists are EPs in the Medicare program) can fulfill meaningful use for 90 days in their first year. If that is accomplished in either 2011 or 2012, an eyecare professional is qualified to receive a potential $44,000 (depending on your annual Medicare Part B allowable billings) over the length of the incentive program, with the first year check of $18,000.

If for whatever reason, you fail to get your first year accomplished in 2012, you will automatically lose $5,000 in potential incentive money. Realize this means that you must start your 90 days of meaningful use no later than October 1, 2012. If you miss that date, you have missed fulfillment in 2012 and must wait for 2013.

Another HITECH bonus for getting it done in 2012 is that CMS has just announced that Stage II meaningful use will not begin until 2014 rather than 2013. That means you will have two years to fulfill meaningful use under the easier Stage I. For those of you who were successful in 2011, you have three years of fulfillment under Stage I.

There is no reason to wait. At Eyefinity, we have our certified suite of OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 ready for you. In fact we already have thousands of offices using the certified version and we are proud to say that in 2011 nearly 1,000 of our customers fulfilled meaningful use, almost twice as many as our competitors. We have a full training program and a powerful meaningful use knowledge base on our website at eyefinity.com.

So don’t wait any longer. Do yourself and your practice a favor by moving into the modern world of EHR. You will never regret the move and your pocketbook will be the proof. Don’t run the risk of someday looking back and saying, “if only I had…”

- James K. Kirchner, OD
Chief Professional Officer, Eyefinity

Attesting to Meaningful Use: Another Success Story

Today’s entry comes from Ryan Wineinger, OD.

Dr. Ryan Wineinger

Dr. Wineinger has leveraged OfficeMate/ExamWRITER to fulfill meaningful use.

Many optometrists don’t want to look at or think about meaningful use (MU) because they doubt that they will be included in the HITECH Act or eligible for stimulus money. Well, I can now say that, as an optometrist, I have successfully attested to using a certified electronic health record in a meaningful manner. I am now eligible for the funds allotted in Year 1, Stage 1 of the HITECH Act.

My practice started using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 the day after returning from the New Year’s holiday. In fact, I registered for the EHR incentive program on the first day that we were allowed to apply.

Our practice has used OfficeMate/ExamWRITER for the last seven years. Since we’ve been using the programs for so long, I thought that I’d be able to breeze through meaningful use. I can now honestly say it takes some time to study and understand the requirements for meeting all of the necessary measures. Once I spent a few hours studying all of the incentive program information on the CMS Web site and Eyefinity’s Meaningful Use Starter Kit, I was confident that I would know how to meet each measure.

ExamWRITER is designed in such a way that I didn’t need to document my eye examinations much differently than I did before the incentive program. There are areas of the software where I had to document items in a different place, because fields were added or moved, but I didn’t necessarily need to change what I was doing.

A critical feature in OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 is the MU Report Card, which helps you gauge your meaningful use. Initially, I looked at the report several times a day to ensure that I was getting credit for each measure. After the second week, I looked at the report card report only weekly to ensure that I was on pace to meet MU requirements at the end of my 90-day reporting period.

Finally, on April 18th, CMS allowed us to attest to the fact that we had indeed met the meaningful use requirements. I plugged in my numbers from my report card into the Meaningful Use Attestation Calculator to ensure I was eligible to qualify. After verifying our numbers, I logged into the attestation site, entered my information, and after roughly 30 minutes, I successfully completed the attestation process!

Now I have reached the hardest part of the process—waiting for my incentive money! Based on the calculations used for the HITECH Act, we will meet the maximum billable amount sometime this summer, and once we do that, we will receive our incentive money.

I encourage every optometrist out there to start using an EMR. I feel that it gives me more information at my fingertips and allows me to provide more thorough care for my patients. The government believes this, too, and that is why they allowed optometrists to participate in the HITECH Act. I’m happy to say that OfficeMate/ExamWRITER gave me the appropriate tools to participate in the meaningful use incentive program.

Dr. Ryan Wineinger received his undergraduate degree from Kansas University. He then graduated from The Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. After graduation, he went into practice with his father at Wineinger Eyecare. Dr. Wineinger thoroughly enjoys the technological side of optometry and has made concentrated efforts to bring in the latest equipment to ensure that his patients are receiving the highest level of comprehensive care possible in regards to their eyesight. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and the Greater Kansas City Optometric Society.

Attesting to Meaningful Use: A Success Story

Today’s entry comes from Lorie Lippiatt, OD.

Dr. Lorie Lippiatt

Dr. Lorie Lippiatt has attested to meaningful use with the help of OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10.

To some, coming back to work after the New Year’s Day always feels like a quiet, somber return to reality after the fun festivities of the holidays. But at my practice, it was an exciting return from Christmas break. The office was abuzz because we were going live with our certified software!

We implemented OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 on January 3, 2011, which was the first day we were eligible to demonstrate meaningful use (MU), and began our 90-day attestation period. After registering on the CMS Web site, we were ready to go!

Although we have used OfficeMate/ExamWRITER for many years, the first couple of weeks were a learning experience for my staff and me. Due to the requirements of the MU objectives, we needed to make a point of more carefully documenting our interactions with the patients in OfficeMate and ExamWRITER to ensure that we were meeting the MU Objectives. Thankfully, the fields were clearly identified throughout the program, which made the process easy and straightforward.

Initially, we ran the MU reports in the software daily. We did this to ensure that everyone on staff was participating fully and to spot any critical areas where our documentation was not meeting the MU objectives. Once we identified and resolved any potential weaknesses and felt confident in our understanding and implementation of the MU criteria, we ran our reports weekly, and then monthly. In the meantime, our quality of patient care was improving!

When the 90-day period ended, and CMS announced we could attest on April 18th, we were ready! In preparing to attest to meaningful use, I took a pretest that CMS offered online to verify our readiness and determine if our reporting would be accepted. It was! So, on April 18, 2011, I logged in to the attestation site, and, using the numerical values provided to me through reporting built into OfficeMate, I successfully attested to meaningful use for 2011 in about 30 minutes.

We should be receiving our check sometime before June this year. I plan to reinvest in my practice with the incentive money, and to incentivize my staff with a bonus for their help in participating in the process!

Dr. Lorie Lippiatt is a 1988 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Optometry; she founded the Salem Eyecare Center, Inc., in 1989. Today, the center is a 5,500-square-foot facility that encompasses a complete children’s vision center.

San Jose Mercury News Editorial: “Obama promise could falter on eye, dental care”

Yesterday, the San Jose Mercury News ran an editorial on the potential impacts that healthcare reform could have on vision and dental benefits. Give it a read below. Got an opinion on this? Share it by leaving us a comment!

SJ Mercury News Editorial: Obama promise could falter on eye, dental care

A major health care reform promise by President Barack Obama is in danger of going down the drain without so much as a whimper from the White House.

Obama has said repeatedly that the government “is not going to make you change plans or your doctor under health reform.” But unless he or the Senate forces a change in legislation the House passed earlier this month, the parents of 40 million to 50 million children throughout the United States will see a disruption in the way their dental and vision benefits are administered — with little or no cost-benefit to the federal government.

A relatively obscure provision of the House bill would not impact adults, but it would force parents to buy children’s dental and vision insurance from medical insurers. That would mean the nearly 300,000 children in Santa Clara County who are insured through specialty carriers such as Delta Dental or VSP would have to switch to a medical carrier that may or may not permit their children to see their own dentist or eye doctor.

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Healthcare Reform and Optometry

The debate over healthcare reform remains front and center.  Vision Monday recently ran an op-ed authored by the VSP board chair and incoming board chair about how healthcare reform could impact optometry.  Give it a read below and leave us a comment sharing your take on the issue.

Op-Ed: Is Your Practice at Risk?

Here’s What You Need to Know About How Healthcare Reform Will Impact Your Practice and the Optometric Profession

I’m sure we would all agree that access to eyecare should be an important consideration when working toward healthcare reform. The questions are, what is the best way to accomplish reform and how will it impact not only your practice but the overall optometric profession?

Amazingly, the current health reform legislation calls for major medical plans to deliver children’s eye exams. As a result, families with vision plans will face the choice of either maintaining two separate vision plans or moving all of their coverage to what will/could be an eye examination-only medical plan. This means all of your business from specialized eyecare plans could be at risk.

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