Safety and efficiency, always top priorities at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, have been enhanced greatly with Methodist’s implementation of an electronic medical record (EMR) and those efforts were recently validated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare recently became the first hospital system in Memphis to meet the CMS Stage 1 Meaningful Use threshold. President Obama’s signing of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $35 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentives to eligible professionals who use a qualified electronic health record (EHR) in a “meaningful” way.
“This has been a massive undertaking of commitment by so many associates at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare,” said Alastair MacGregor, MD, Chief Healthcare Information Officer. “The beneficiaries are our patients who receive care in a much more coordinated way now.”
Heather Swanson, M.D., says drugs are becoming increasingly complex and it’s a significant challenge for physicians to anticipate all the potential interactions.
“I had a situation recently with a patient where I had prescribed a blood thinner,” she said. “The computer alerted me right away that there could be an issue with that drug and another drug the patient was taking. I was able to quickly shift to an alternative medication that was better for that particular patient.”
Another Methodist physician, Kelley Meyers, M.D., said the EMR saves him a lot of time.
“There is just so much information about a patient that’s obtainable and ready to look at any time for all the people on the care team,” he said. “There’s no waiting, like there used to be, for the old paper medical record.”
Dr. Meyers is also excited about how the EMR improves accuracy by eliminating the need to decipher physicians’ handwriting.
“I feel blessed to be able to work at a place like Methodist that invests this much, time, money and effort into patient safety. It helps me take better care of my patients,” added Meyers.
CMS has outlined three stages in which providers must successfully show a prescribed use of a certified EMR to meet both quality-of-care metrics and system-adoption metrics. CMS regulators considered the industry’s current level of information technology adoption and they expect improved patient outcomes and health system efficiencies from increased information technology adoption. They created a three-level staging methodology for measurable requirements on how effectively health organizations are using electronic medical records and information technologies. Attainment of each stage attracts incentives, and by 2016 there will be financial penalties for health organizations that have not attained all three stages of requirements. The CMS methodology for meaningful use encourages early adoption of certified technology and rapidly increasing the depth and breadth of usage over time.
The EMR (also sometimes called an Electronic Health Record or EHR) provides better patient care by cutting down on paperwork, reducing dependency on handwriting, eliminating duplicate tests, providing patient safety alerts and reducing the time for patients to receive their physicians orders. A providers’ attainment of a stage’s requirements equate to Meaningful Use of an EHR thereby qualifying the provider for a Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement bonus. Failure to meet or continue to meet the required stage of Meaningful Use for a given year will result in the provider incurring a monetary penalty or possibly losing a percentage of their Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
More than 100,000 health care providers are using electronic health records that meet federal standards and have received payments under the plan. Methodist is the first health care system in Memphis to achieve Stage 1 Meaningful Use status.
As of the end of May 2012:
- More than 110,000 eligible professionals and over 2,400 eligible hospitals have been paid by the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
- Approximately 48 percent of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals in the U.S. have received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or meaningfully using an EHR.
- One out of every 5 Medicare and Medicaid eligible professionals in the U.S. has received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or meaningfully using an EHR.
- Over $5.7 billion in EHR Incentive Program payments were made.
- More than $3 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments were made between May 2011 (when the first payments were released) and the end of May 2012.
- More than $2.6 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments were made between January 2011 (when the first states launched their programs) and the end of May 2012.
“The EHR Incentive Programs have really helped jump-start the use of electronic health records by health care providers all across the country,” said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide incentive payments for using EHR technology in ‘meaningful’ ways that lead to higher quality care, improved patient safety, and shared decision making by patients and physicians.