A number of dental groups and practices have taken advantage of the federal Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive program over the past five years. This deal distributes subsidy money for acquiring certified software technology.
I know this program well, as I involved myself in its initial formation. I helped numerous organizations obtain their money.
DentiMax has also done videos and conducted webinars on EHR, check them out:
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 received their initial year one subsidy of $21,250 per dentist, many don’t realize their eligibility for an additional $42,500 per dentist over five years. Or alternatively, they don’t have the proper software to support this EHR system.
This software allows them to provide the Feds with the information required to get the rest of the money. If these groups and practices don’t start soon, they can potentially forfeit the additional $42,500 per dentist eligibility.
Lacking awareness about the 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 involves why. Even though a group or practice has a particular certified software that worked for year one, they find out that their current software won’t get them through years two to six.
Many salespeople over the years 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. While others make the investment to allow you to receive all your incentive money.
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.
The new rules that came out last fall outline numerous “objectives.” For example, keeping track of the percentage of prescriptions sent electronically, the percentage of patients given patient education or the number of patients that use the patient web portal. There are clinical quality measures (CQMs) to keep track of such as the 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, the first step towards standardizing patient care involves capturing and reporting on federal objectives and clinical quality measures.
The issue is that if dental EHR 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.
Even if you can capture information in your workflow, you will 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
So, if you are planning on applying for your years two-through-six EHR 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
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.
If you already received year one’s $21,250 per dentist and remain eligible for the remaining $42,500, make sure you get meaningful use. It will become tough if you don’t have meaningful use capturing and reporting built into your dental software.
I have talked to clients in situations because of the additional money. They opted to look at switching from normal software to a product that integrates meaningful use within the software. But
Finally, I always get questions about which software has meaningful use built into the workflow. 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.