Since the inception of federal programs that award providers for meaningful use of certified EMR software, podiatrists have been in the forefront, leading the pack of early EMR adopters. In fact, in May 2011, when the first batch of incentive payments was sent out to qualifying providers, CMS reported that 12 percent of recipients were podiatrists.
Despite podiatrists only representing about 1.5 percent of Medicare providers, the widespread use of podiatry EMR software has made it possible for so many podiatry specialists to attest to meaningful use. But what do podiatry EMR systems offer that other EMRs don’t?
Podiatry-specific templates and forms. Instead of working with generalized templates made to be used by doctors in a variety of specialties, podiatrists using specialty-specific EMR software can benefit from documents and screens geared to their specialty. This includes patient instructions, and exam templates for medical issues such as routine foot exam, ankle fractures, diabetic foot ulcer, ingrown toenail and more.
In addition, EMR software for podiatrists features diagrams and graphics related to the podiatry field. This means that doctors can access images of the foot (and other pertinent body parts) from different angles, in order to write or draw on and embed in the visit note.
Customized E&M coder. The custom E&M coder in podiatry EMR systems will automatically suggest a code based on the visit and what the provider did with the patient. This eliminates some of the guess work out of choosing visit codes, as well as helping podiatrists get paid for the services they provide.
Meaningful use reporting module and dashboard. Podiatrists using EMR software with built-in reporting modules have an easier time attesting to meaningful use. Using the dashboard and module features, providers can see percentages of compliancy, as well as a list of patients with whom they have achieved meaningful use and a list of patients with whom they have not.
Despite an initial surge in electronic medical records adoption due to federal incentive programs, many qualifying healthcare professionals continue to put off conversion efforts due to the overwhelming number of EMR options on the market and the financial implications involved in adopting state of the art IT systems.
With meaningful use reporting periods coming to a close for 2012, the urgency to adopt EMR technology is growing. Still, healthcare facilities and independent providers don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Achieving meaningful use can be a breeze with the right EMR tools and the help of knowledgeable vendors.
Make sure that the EMR software you choose is certified. There are few EMR systems, in relation to the hundreds of products available on the market, that are not fully certified to meet national standards for data exchange, or interoperability. However, providers looking for more budget-friendly options should be wary of software prices that are too good to be true. If you don’t choose a fully certified EMR, you can forget about meaningful use.
Find out whether the vendor offers assistance with meaningful use reporting. There are many resources, such as regional extension centers, available to medical professionals trying to figure out how meaningful use reporting works. However, being able to count on your EMR vendor to show you how to use their software will make the process go a lot more smoothly. If the vendor tries to wash their hands of that responsibility, you may want to try looking elsewhere. Remember that the only way you can attest to meaningful use is by using your EMR in a meaningful way; and not knowing how to do so is going to complicate things in a big way.
Be attentive to the different registration dates and deadlines. Remember that, in order to earn the full $44,000 in incentive payments, providers must start the stage 1 reporting period by October 3. Make sure your EMR system is set up long before that to account for the learning curve before you have to show meaningful use. Providers who wait until 2013 to attest will only be able to earn $39,000, while those who wait until 2014 will only be eligible for up to $24,000. In order to achieve maximum results, be sure to make a note of important dates and prepare for them well in advance.