On Thursday 6/28, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The major impact on behavioral health care providers can be divided in to 3 categories:
It looked as if Core Measure 13, Clinical Summaries, was going to be the hardest objective to meet in meaningful use. And what's more, patients would in many cases not benefit from, or want to receive, the summary. Well, we have good news! Our contacts at CMS have clarified for us that as long as an offer is made to provide the clinical summary, the measure is satisfied, whether or not the patient declines to receive it. So it's way easier than we thought it would be. This is just another reason to jump in and achieve meaningful use in 2011.
1. Look at the CMS attestation work sheet, followed by any other recommended training from your EHR vendor. In my experience, there is nothing that reduces anxiety about meaningful use faster than walking through the attestation work sheet. It turns something amorphous, abstract, and sometimes overwhelming into something quite manageable and concrete. Try it; you’ll see what I mean.
I’ve talked elsewhere about how quality customer support can make a powerful EHR optimally usable. This is especially true for the features of an ONC Certified EHR that are required for demonstrating meaningful use. Your Account Manager (yes, you’ll need one of those to help you navigate meaningful use!) is going to be your best friend long before you receive your $18,000 check from CMS.
It’s definitely not too late to apply for up to $44,000 in Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentives available to eligible psychiatrists and mental health practices, but the meaningful use clock is ticking. According to the meaningful use timeline, those that purchase an ONC certified EHR, register, and begin to demonstrate meaningful use before October 1, 2011 will be able to attest to meaningful use in 2011 and receive $18,000 in reimbursement from Medicare in early 2012.
Large behavioral health group practices are caught between two worlds: that of the relatively mature market for EHR’s for general medical practices and the relatively immature world of EHR’s for behavioral health care practices. The products pitched to them from the large EHR vendors that focus primarily on primary care are way beyond their budgets, lack functionality (such as integrated scheduling and billing, behavioral healthcare specific templates and treatment plans, etc.), and are cluttered with features that have no value in day-to-day psychiatric practice. Current EHR vendors that are focused on behavioral healthcare frequently have some of the desired functionality and lack the clutter, but they rarely offer a complete product that provides for all of the practice management needs of the mental health practice. In addition, the relative immaturity of the vendors and market make the viability of the vendor a concern. So, there is no perfect answer. Yet large practices have known for a long time that their paper systems are inadequate and that the meaningful use incentive train is leaving the station. What are they to do?
Hundreds of new psychiatric private practices are started each year, yet I repeatedly hear from graduating psychiatry residents and psychiatric private practice colleagues that they have not had adequate preparation in the business of running a private practice. Off the shelf business plan templates were helpful, but did not quite hit the mark for me when I started my practice in 2002. So, I modified them over time to come up with a system that worked well for me and am sharing it here.
I recently sat down with Dr. David Lischner, CEO of Vālant Medical Solutions, for a brief Q&A to learn more about the company. In that interview, I learned about his deep commitment to behavioral health care practitioners, Vālant’s unique personnel and support model, and its plans for the upcoming release of its certified Premium Psychiatric Suite.