Over the past five years a number of dental groups and practices have taken advantage of the federal EHR incentive program, which distributes subsidy money for acquiring certified software technology.
I know this program well as I was involved with this initial formation and have helped numerous organizations obtain their money. I have also done articles and videos and conducted webinars on the subject. Having groups and practices coming to me all the time for advice on this program I’ve noticed an alarming trend. Although most of these organizations have received their initial year one subsidies of $21,250 per dentist, many either don’t realize that they are eligible for an additional $42,500 per dentist over five years or don’t have the proper software which allows them to provide the Feds with the information that is required to get the rest of the money. And, if these groups and practices don’t start soon they can potentially forfeit the chunk of the additional $42,500 per dentist that they are eligible for.
Not having awareness that there is a considerable amount of money left on the table for these groups and practices is one thing… I have certainly tried to educate the industry that this additional money is available. But what I really wanted to focus on with this article is why, even though a group or practice has a particular certified software which worked for year one, they are finding out that the software they have is not adequate to get them years two through six.
There have been a lot of salespeople over the years that have convinced a group or practice that their software supported the $63,750 per dentist payment subsidy, when in reality it only allowed the organization to obtain the first $21,250 per dentist. And this is the “smoke and mirrors” that I talked about in the past. Some vendors choose to just support year one incentives and others make the investment to allow you to receive all your incentive money.
What is meaningful use?
The real work begins after receiving year one incentive money. In order to receive your additional $42,500 moving forward, you must use the software in a “meaningful” way. And this meaningful use that the Feds require is based on criteria that the software must capture and report on.
There are numerous “objectives” that are outlined in the new rules that came out last fall. For example, keeping track of the percentage of prescriptions sent electronically, the percentage of patients given patient education or number of patients that use the patient web portal. There are clinical quality measures (CQMs) to keep track of such as percentage of children who have dental decay or percentage of primary caries prevention interventions.
And why is it important to keep track of such objectives and measures? Well, I can tell you that having been part of the initial discussions justifying this multibillion-dollar program the ultimate goal was to get groups and practices using software technology that improved patient care.So, capturing and reporting on federal objectives and clinical quality measures is the first up towards standardizing the way patient care is done.
What’s the problem?
The issue is that if software is certified but does not include capturing tracking these measures within the software and in the workflow then it is difficult, if not impossible, to meet the objectives and measures without causing a lot of extra work for the providers. And, even if you have the ability to capture information in your workflow you need tools to report on the information Case in point, I had a client that received year one money because their vendor had sold them a certified medical software along with the dental software but when the time came to apply for year two money the amount of work it would have taken for all their providers to switch back and forth between the medical and dental software just to capture and report on required measures was not practical. So in this case they opted to waive the additional potential $42,500 per dentist.
DentiMax meaningful use dashboard and workflow
So, if you are planning on applying for your years two through six incentive money, then it is helpful to have an easily understandable “dashboard” that provides you with an updated snapshot of where you are meeting your meaningful use objectives and measures on a provider level. DentiMax provides such a tool that reports on how each provider is doing it any point in time when it comes to percentage of objectives and measures met. When it comes time to report to the government during your attestation then all the information is there to be reported on.
In addition, because of the dynamic nature of the tool you can use it to track compliance during the reporting period. Finally, you can drill down on the dashboard to look at the underlying data on a patient encounter basis. Although I believe that a number of certified software vendors that don’t already have dashboards will get there at some point DentiMax was one of the first to provide this tool. Also, it is important to note that in order to track and report on percentages of compliance the software must be able to capture the information at an appropriate time which is why DentiMax has built this into their workflow.
The bottom line is that if you’ve already have received year one $21,250 per dentist and are eligible for the remaining $42,500 per dentist but don’t have meaningful use capturing and reporting built into your dental software then it might be a tough road to go. I have talked to clients that were in the situation and because of the additional money opted to look at switching their software to product that integrates meaningful use within the software. But obviously this is a personal decision. And remember, if you are eligible for the money, and you haven’t entered year one of the program by the end of 2016 then you’re out of luck.
Finally, I always get questions about which software as meaningful use built into the workflow and we have added this category to our vendor comparisons on DentalSoftwareCompare.com. So, check it out once in a while to see which vendors are supporting this feature.