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Ask Your EHR Vendor: Will You Still Be Here Tomorrow?

10.26.2017

The 1,100+ vendors currently in the EHR marketplace are in turbulent times. Rapid consolidation is inevitable and increasing Meaningful Use criteria certainly will force many companies to the sidelines.

Currently, it is estimated that the top 10 EHR vendors account for about 90 percent of the hospital EHR market, based on 2015 Meaningful Use attestation data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The name of the game is interoperability and providing robust technology that is architected to do more than scrape by the base regulatory requirements.

What is Meaningful Use 3?

Meaningful Use 3 is the third phase of the EHR incentive program developed by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).  Meaningful Use 3 basically rewrites the former two phases with an entirely new program. As things stand, in summer 2016, Meaningful Use stage 3 was optional for providers in 2017 and mandatory for all participants in 2018. Objectives and measures for all providers, regardless of prior participation, are finalized for the 2018 reporting period with this rule.

There are eight objectives in Meaningful Use 3 that are summarized in a recent article by Tech Target. They include:

  1. Protected health information (PHI):Provide proof of a security risk analysis.
  2. Electronic prescribing: Achieve more than 80% of permissible prescriptions transmitted electronically.
  3. Clinical decision support (CDS):Implement five CDS interventions and drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks during the reporting period.
  4. Computerized provider order entry (CPOE):  Meet three different measures for medication, lab and diagnostic imaging orders.
  5. Patient electronic access:Provide access to EHRs to more than 80% of patients, with the option to view and download the records. Plus, offer an option to receive educational data to more than 35% of patients.
  6. Coordination of care through patient engagement: Encourage patients to actively engage in their care by necessitating physicians to educate them on and offer capabilities to view patient health data. Encourages physicians to have more than 25% of patients interact with the EHR, more than 35% of patients receive a secure digital communication from a care provider and encourages the collection of patient generated health data from fitness trackers or wearable devices from more than 15% of patients.
  7. Health information exchange (HIE):  More than 50% of care transition and referrals include the exchange of care records, such as continuity of care documents (CCD), electronically; requires physicians who are seeing a patient for the first time to receive care documents electronically from a secondary source more than 40% of the time and requires physicians to use e-prescribing services to reconcile medication lists from online sources with their own for more than 80% of new patients they see.
  8. Public health and clinical data registry reporting: Providers must choose three out of five available EHR reporting destinations to which they will submit data periodically. Reporting options include an immunization registry, syndromic surveillance, cases, a public health registry and a clinical data registry.

For the complete document that outlines Meaningful Use 3, click here.

What if your EHR vendor doesn’t reach Meaningful Use 3?

While the best case is to do your homework before signing on with an EHR vendor, most health systems already are down the road and banking on one or more EHR vendors.

If the unforeseen happens and your EHR vendor goes bankrupt or doesn’t achieve Meaningful Use 3, there are options that could include your EHR being acquired by another provider or the need to transition to a new system.

If a change to a new EHR becomes necessary, it is recommended to choose an EHR vendor whose customers are similar in size to your organization and who has references and a development track record that is appropriate and well-funded. Regardless of how good the EHR looks on paper, it may be a good idea to have the EHR source code and patient data in an escrow as an insurance policy just in case there is an unfortunate change of events in the future.

Archiving is a steady solution in a turbulent EMR market.

Should any combination of your EMR products be acquired or sunset over time, data archiving is always an alternative to the more costly and complex EMR data conversion.  A well-planned legacy data management strategy alleviates future IT costs, risks and burdens as platforms come and go. Long-term medical data storage vendors who know the EMR market inside and out offer secure solutions that ensure data integrity and meet HIPAA and state medical record retention requirements.

When you look at the real cost of maintaining multiple legacy systems, including licensing, maintenance and support as well as the associated internal IT labor burden, the ongoing management of outdated systems becomes difficult to justify. Plus, the risk exists that the old systems may become obsolete and non-supported. Keeping the organization’s long term vision in mind, there is business value and strategic benefits to adopting an EMR archive to keep legacy data intact in a searchable, manageable and HIPAA-compliant format.

Is it time to shore up disparate data silos in your organization?  We can help.