Switching your EHR in 2019?

Things to know while switching your EHR in 2019

In the world of technology there is one constant: Change is inevitable.

Your practice needs quality technology in order to provide high level care that’s on par with expectations. Patients, authorities and the health care niche expect your practice to function according to their preferences. That could mean YOU need to make a change, getting more appropriate EHR in 2019. But what do you pick?

It’s an intricate task to find the right resources and tools from the many available. Understanding the industry makes it easier to identify what you really need. But you can’t approach this with your 2018 understanding. 2019 will see big changes in the health care niche and this influences how you’ll use and experience your EHR.

We, the folks at softwarefinder, make it easier for you: Read through our list of highlights so you can gauge what you really need.

2019 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

One of the biggest changes in the health care industry happens this year and it will affect your usage of EHR. It’s called the Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule.

What it Is

In an extensive document an outline was given for various changes:

  • The changes affect Medicare reimbursement
  • The AQPP (Quality Payment Program) is affected too

A timeline was put in place as well. Some changes and regulations took effect on 1 January 2019, while others will only come into play in 2021. This will give you time to prepare, but some aspects already require your attention now.

One of the motivations for change is to make rules more relevant to a non-paper based system. Therefore you can be sure you’ll enjoy some of the adjustments, also making your EHR usage more beneficial.

How it Impacts Your EHR

You’ll be wise working through the document, but here is a list of some of the most important and relevant changes related to EHR software:

  • Becoming more streamlined: You’ll enjoy using your EHR more if you don’t have to re-enter all information yourself. You can simply review and verify data your staff enters for billing purposes. Of course you’ll have to identify which staff members’ entries will need less auditing. This method can be used for:
    • Chief complaint (CC)
    • Historical information (HPI)
    • Past family social history (PFSH)
    • Review of systems (ROS)
  • Telehealth benefits: If your EHR is designed to allow for telehealth services it’s a bonus. There is now an expanded list of services you’ll be reimbursed for. This will cut down on in practice consultations and phone check ins as well as patient provided images will count. However, you won’t be eligible for reimbursement if the patient does visit in person seven days before the virtual consult or 24 hours later. Make sure your EHR helps you manage these logistics.
  • MIPS benefits for more practices: Even smaller practices can now opt in for MIPS (Merit-Based Incentive Payment System). See below for more information.
  • Site neutrality: If your EHR helps you manage off-campus activities there are certain guidelines such as 40% payments for OPPS (Outpatient Prospective Payment System). Just note that it depends on when facilities were built.

For years ahead you can look forward to adjusted coding systems that will make billing easier. That is only expected for 2021 though.

Cyber Security

Cyber attacks are real and increasing. Improved tech may protect your system, but it also gives hackers more tools to access data systems. The best you can do is placing security at the top of your list when you’re vetting EHR vendors.

Warning: Simply because a brand is well known doesn’t mean they’ll be safe from attacks. That becomes clear when you browse cyber news of 2018. Both big and small EMR vendors, hospitals and medical entities were hacked, including:

  • Hospitals and entities such as Augusta University Health & Legacy Health in Oregon exposed patient records.
  • Phishing, ransomware and malware attacks forced institutions to use their data backups.
  • Employees of Blue Cross and Coplin Health Systems were the reason their data was accessed. In the latter case it was as simple as stealing a laptop with un-encrypted information.
  • Employee workstations were accessed by hackers with Med Associates being only one example.

You can see the reasons for this problem relates to various aspects of security. It ranges from not adhering to HIPAA guidelines to certain role players being negligent or breaching regulations.

In 2019 you need to make sure the vendor looking after your data provides high level security, using the latest methods. Outdated systems won’t keep hackers at bay. And remember, you have the right to ask about HIPAA compliance and other certifications. Don’t let marketing jargon sway you from partnering with the best EHR option for your practice.

MIPS Reporting Starts in 2019

The proper implementation of MIPS (Merit-Based Incentive Payment System) has been a long time coming, with practices needing to follow certain regulations ever since 2017. In 2019 the system will provide physicians with yearly updates. Updates relate to four categories:

  • Quality
  • Resource use
  • Clinical practice improvement activities
  • Meaningful use an EHR

You can see that making your EHR relevant and practical to the type of practice you have is essential for practical reasons, but also to ensure you benefit financially.

What You Need

MIPS has given physicians time to get on par:

  • Having an interoperable EHR
  • No deliberate blocking of information with vendors

What to do 

You also need to monitor your MIPS points as this influences payment adjustments. In 2019 you need to earn a minimum of 30 MIPS points. This is 15 more than in 2018. If you want that exceptional performance bonus, get ready to work for 75 MIPS points instead of 70.

Change can often be viewed as time consuming, but here’s the good news this year: Many of these changes are made to benefit the physician and his or her practice. Do the hard work now to get on par and you’ll reap the rewards.

If you’re looking for a head start in your search for the right EHR company, let our EMR consultants help you. Call 661-384-7070 for a free consultation. 

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