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

OfficeMate and ExamWRITER User Documentation Wins New Awards

Carrie and Michael display the awards that they won for the Eyefinity documentation at the awards banquet.

Did you achieve meaningful use in 2011 and receive stimulus money from the government as part of the HITECH Act? Are you working to achieve meaningful use in 2012? If meeting the government’s requirements for the EHR Incentive Program is a part of your business plan, then you probably are probably using a document written by Carrie Chambers, the Director of Documentation at Eyefinity, to help you complete the required steps in OfficeMate/ExamWRITER to achieve meaningful use. This document, “Achieving Meaningful Use with OfficeMate/ExamWRITER” recently won an Award of Excellence in the 2011–2012 Society for Technical Communication (STC) Southern California Technical Documentation Competition.

In addition to the meaningful use documentation, the “Backing Up & Restoring Data” document, written by Michael Opsteegh, Senior Technical Writer at Eyefinity, won an Award of Merit in the competition. Hopefully, you have a proven backup solution in place for all of your OfficeMate/ExamWRITER data files! When you set up your solution (or, if, unfortunately, you had to use your solution to restore your files), you probably read this document to ensure that you always backup (and restore, if necessary) your OfficeMate/ExamWRITER files correctly.

These two pieces of Eyefinity documentation were recognized for their excellence in technical communication. The judges commented that the “Achieving Meaningful Use with OfficeMate/ExamWRITER” document is comprehensive, consistent, professional, and visually-appealing. They noted that the “Backing Up & Restoring Data” document is engaging, well written and organized, and very easy to understand.

The Southern California STC chapters sponsored the technical documentation competition to recognize and encourage excellence in communication through printed and online media. The competition honors technical writers and editors who set the standard for published technical communication.

If you are working to achieve meaningful use, be sure to refer to the “Achieving Meaningful Use with OfficeMate/ExamWRITER” document as you work in OfficeMate/ExamWRITER. And, if you need help backing up and restoring your OfficeMate/ExamWRITER data files, read the “Backing Up & Restoring Data” document. In addition to these documents, the Documentation team at Eyefinity has published an ever-expanding library of helpful information – check it out at OfficeMate.net!

Understanding Meaningful Use Objectives, Part 1

A message from James Kirchner, OD, Chief Professional Officer for Eyefinity/OfficeMate:

Dr. James Kirchner

At Eyefinity/OfficeMate, we are celebrating the certification of OfficeMate/ExamWRITER v10. We are excited to be able to produce a certified EHR, which is a critical component of your meaningful use (MU) strategy.

Now it’s time to help you understand the MU objectives. As I promised in my previous articles, I’ll give you the specifics of the 25, MU criteria, so that you can be confident in your ability to use your certified software in a meaningful way. My goal is your success in getting your portion of the stimulus money—all $44,000.

There are 25 objectives as established in the Final Rule by CMS, I’m going to detail all 25 over the next few blog articles. I’ll make them very practical to understand. I’ll begin by detailing the first 15 which are called “core” objectives and CMS expects eligible providers (EPs) to perform all 15. The second set is called “menu,” and you will be expected to perform 5 out of the 10 menu objectives. Therefore, a total of 20 out of the 25 objectives will need to be accomplished for successfully using your certified EHR in a meaningful way.

There are exclusion provisions that have been established, so that you can decide if any of the 15 should be excluded by you. I’ll address the exclusions in the future. For now, let’s go through the list. I’m going to group the objectives by 3 major categories for the sake of clarity. I’ll do the first category in this edition and the other categories in next few blog articles.

Category 1: Recording and Securely Storing Specific Patient Data

  1. Record Demographics
    Record the patient’s preferred language, gender, race, ethnicity, and date of birth.
  2. Maintain a Problem List
    Maintain an up-to-date problem list of current and active diagnoses.
  3. Maintain an Active Medication Allergy List
    Maintain a list of patient medication allergies. If the patient hasn’t any medication allergies, you must record as none.
  4. Maintain an Active Medication List
    Maintain a list of patient medications. If the patient isn’t taking any medications, you must record as none
  5. Record and Chart Vital Signs
    Record height, weight, blood pressure, calculate and display BMI, plot and display growth charts for children 2–20 years of age, including BMI.
  6. Record Smoking Status
    Record the smoking habits of patients 13 years and older.

There you have the first set of MU objectives. Remember that your certified EHR must provide you with the tools to accomplish the tasks listed above, but it will be up to you to do the work.

I know that many of you will be concerned with some of the objectives listed. I mentioned that the CMS Final Rule makes allowances for exclusions. The topic of exclusions is worthy of a complete edition of Trends and Tactics, so stay with me through this series, and I’ll explain them.