Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Patient portals and meaningful use

For the MGMA (and elsewhere, no doubt), concerns with the meaningful use requirements come down to practicality and achievability. Can small- and medium-size practices really meet some of these requirements? In their current form, MGMA says, not easily.

I just spoke with Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor at MGMA, for a podcast to be posted soon. He outlined to me why these requirements are “overly complex” and create “significant barriers to physician efforts.”

Here’s one example of many.
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Among the requirements is that practices be able to provide patients with timely electronic access to their medical records. Meaningful use in this area means that 10 percent of patients must have this timely access.

Sounds fine on the surface, Tennant noted, but this means practices will have to implement a robust patient portal to provide that access. Patient portals are not usually part of your standard EHR, so practices will have to invest in an additional module. The 10 percent then is really irrelevant, Tennant said, “You have to have the patient portal in place. Whether it’s 10 percent or 100 percent, practices will have to incur the costs of development.”

That’s just one area that MGMA noted the requirements are unreasonable – and could be quite costly – for smaller practices. As Tennant noted, the requirement- writing committees really should ask not should, but could.

I welcome your thoughts on the requirements and whether your practice will be able to achieve meaningful use.

1 comment:

  1. We would love to have a patient portal. Our software has enough issues without it. From what I hear from other practices, it looks good on paper, but doesn't work well in reality. Every feature of an EMR works very well when the sales department is showing it. The "rubber hits the road" when actual staff and patients (who probably are not all that computer saavy) begin to use it. Don't even get me started on the costs associated with IT support! All in all, I believe EMR's are here to stay, but they will forever be a pain in the butt!