Attesting to Meaningful Use: Getting Paid to Improve Patient Care

Today’s entry comes from Robert Bass, OD, FAAO

CMS, the HITECH Act, meaningful use? Oh, no!! Improved patient care and stimulus money? Oh, yes!! How to get it done painlessly? OfficeMate and ExamWRITER!!

Dr. Robert Bass

Dr. Bass recently implemented OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 as his certified EHR and has already qualified for stimulus money.

For me, the HITECH Act was initially difficult to understand, especially all of the requirements for meeting meaningful use (MU). OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10 made it easy for me to comply with the requirements and document the necessary information. CMS warns that it may take a doctor 10–20 hours to complete the attestation, but I was able to complete it in less than 45 minutes and was successful in my attesting to meaningful use within the first quarter of the reporting year. The OfficeMate/ExamWRITER software was integral in my successful and prompt attestation.

My practice began using OfficeMate/ExamWRITER a little over a year ago and upgraded to the certified v10 on January 3, 2011. Implementing a certified electronic health record (EHR) for meaningful use has raised the level of attention to detail of my staff and myself because we now have to document specific criteria for every patient. This enforces a consistently high level of care from one patient to the next. We have noticed better recordkeeping in such areas as patient demographics, correspondence, and referring doctors. All of these improvements took shape without our having to drastically change how we use OfficeMate and ExamWRITER.

I am looking forward to receiving my incentive check for my compliance, but even more so, I am looking forward to continuing to provide the utmost care for my patients.

I urge all optometrists to implement an EHR, and I recommend that you start now. Each year of the HITECH Act builds on the next, and the incentive payments are reduced each year. In 2011, you can be eligible to receive incentive payments after 90 days of using a certified EHR in a meaningful manner. In the coming years, the attestation period will be longer, and the payments will be smaller. Act today while the rewards are at their highest.

Dr. Bass is a proud alumnus from the College of William and Mary, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He graduated with honors from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1986, Dr. Bass became a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry. Dr. Bass practices optometry in Manassas, Virginia, where ha has practiced for thirty years. An accomplished professional, Dr. Bass is also an avid fisherman and a dedicated family man.

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.

Establishing High Standards of Service

Today’s entry comes from Jessica Lesson.

What distinguishes an excellent customer experience from a good or—worse—mediocre experience? In a word, service. In today’s optical industry, the service a customer receives is just as important—if not more important—as the quality of care and materials they receive. As a practice owner, we know you want to make sure that every patient who visits your practice experiences a consistently high standard of service.

You may endeavor to hire the most conscientious, outgoing, and friendly staff and believe that these efforts alone will ensure that your patients receive the highest standards of care. These measures, however, won’t ensure that staff members consistently provide high levels of service. To ensure that high levels of service are evenly applied from staff member to staff member, you must explicitly state your expectations and establish standards of service.

To establish standards of service, your practice should have a mission statement and a job description for each position:

  • A mission statement should be a short, formal statement about what your practice stands for. A mission statement is designed to guide the actions of your practice as an organization and to create a sense of direction for you and your employees.
  • The positions within your practice that have a set of consistent responsibilities should have job descriptions that directly align with your practice’s mission statement. As a general rule of thumb, most practices should have a job description written for the office manager, front desk and back office staff, pretesters, sales associates, and opticians to ensure that staff members are following consistent, high standards of service.

Setting job descriptions for these various positions is important, even if your practice isn’t large enough to fill each of these unique positions with an individual person. A hybrid job description combining one or more of standards set for these basic positions can be created for employees that wear many hats in the office.

For more information on establishing job descriptions, including sample standards for the major functions in any optometric practice, visit www.eyefinityofficemate.biz.

Jessica Lesson has worked in many facets of the optical industry. Jessica’s experience includes general management of large-volume retail locations and multiunit management. Jessica is also an ABOC optician and licensed in California.

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.

Growing Your Practice: Price-Point Promotions

Today’s entry comes from Kirk Poole, Field Services Manager for Eyefinity.

You see them everywhere—in  newspapers, TV commercials, and direct mail. The major retail chains offer price-point promotions almost constantly—“two pairs for 69.99,” “buy one, get the second pair free.” These types of promotions are employed so frequently because they work! Consumer trends have changed—the eyewear consumer is now driven by price and quality—and price-point promotions are a key tool for increasing sales at any dispensary. Promotions compel a purchase to be made now, and they are key for driving patients into your independent eyecare practice rather than the nearest retail chain.

eyewearpromotions.com

Use eyewearpromotions.com to help you promote, design, advertise, and distribute your promotions.

But how, you may ask, can I create compelling price-point promotions? After all, you don’t have access to the same marketing budgets as the major retailers. How can you know which promotions are most attractive to consumers? To establish which promotions make the most sense for you, take a look at what your retail competitors are doing and try to stay within the same price ranges. Also, it’s very important that you keep in mind the disclaimers you want to put on the promotions. For example, you probably don’t want the customer to be able to combine a promotion with their insurance benefits or other discounts.

A second challenge an independent eyecare professional will need to overcome is how to get the word out about your promotions. You can do so by printing fliers for distribution in your local area or by displaying them on your Web site.  You can also enlist the help of eyewearpromotions.com. This unique offering provides your practice with all of the promotion design, messaging, advertising, and distribution.  Eyewearpromotions.com even pushes out the promotions to your eWeb Extra Web site automatically.

For more tips on how to grow your practice, visit www.eyefinityofficemate.biz.

Kirk Poole is the manager of field services for Eyefinity. He has worked in the optical business for over 30 years. He holds a degree in ophthalmic optics and is accredited by the ABO as a charter-certified optician. Kirk has managed single to multiunit locations in multiple states and achieved positive results at a national retail level for over 10 years.  He also served as a national trainer for new regional sales managers.