6 Things to Expect from Your Health IT Partner

What Distinguishes an EHR Vendor from an EHR Partner

Healthcare providers today face a perfect storm. Opportunities for incentives abound through multiple CMS programs, including Meaningful Use, ePrescribing, Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), while penalties attached to these same programs wait in the wings for those who fail to successfully participate. Overlapping deadlines for these initiatives require providers to undergo multiple transitions at once. At the same time, new care delivery models and reimbursement models challenge the very nature of the way health care has been delivered in the past. All of these initiatives are overshadowed by the ICD-10 transition looming on the horizon, with a compliance date of Oct. 1, 2014—the same year that Stage 2 Meaningful Use begins.

So how are you to juggle it all? Even the most dedicated, innovative organizations will struggle under the load of compliance issues and the continuous change required by these transformative times. And where is patient care amidst all of these competing priorities? To successfully weather healthcare transformation without letting patient care fall to the wayside, practices and healthcare organizations will need more than just good people and good technology. They must also have a strong technology partner that will support them every step of the way.

But what distinguishes an EHR vendor from a true technology partner? An EHR partner should support you by providing:

1. Meaningful Use dashboard and other dashboards. Your EHR system should include dashboards that provide metrics and analytics by provider, numerators/denominators for Meaningful Use attestation and clinic analytics with drill-through details. These dashboards should make it easy for you to gauge your progress towards achieving Meaningful Use measures, PQRS measures and clinic goals.

2. Inherent patient portal with the system. Your EHR vendor should offer a patient portal as part of its core offering. If your vendor outsources its Patient Portal, you will likely be paying additional license or support fees, and you could face integration and support considerations between the portal and the EHR.

3. Single database solution for practice management and EHR. Single database technologies will always certify as complete EHRs, meaning the practice management and electronic health record are part of the same solution. While some dual database technologies will certify as Complete EHRs, such systems have a level of complexity that can impact data mapping and reporting. Having a single database solution allows you to avoid integration issues and simplifies the core workflows in your enterprise.

4. EHR Direct PQRS. Now more than ever, the clinical data you report will impact your provider's compensation and how he/she is reflected in the public eye. Your vendor should be certified to do EHR Direct PQRS reporting—a standard-based way of reporting directly from your EHR. This will help you position for coming value-based reimbursement under the CMS Value-Based Modifier Payment Program in addition to earning incentives and avoiding penalties. Also, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CMS will begin publishing data to its Physician Compare website.

5. More than just first call support. Your vendor should provide consulting support with domain experts and initiative toolkits for Meaningful Use, PCMH, PQRS, etc., in addition to providing U.S.-based support representatives who are well-trained, friendly and considerate of your needs.

6. Ongoing client educational offerings. Your vendor should provide free educational webinars, a wealth of articles, white papers, case studies, tips and tricks to help you become more knowledgeable about the industry and your specialty. They should also provide CEU-approved opportunities for ongoing education and should consistently communicate about new features.

Are you getting enough help from your vendor? If not, it might be time to make the switch to an EHR partner.