One of the most talked about changes with Stage 2 of the CMS EHR Incentive Program, is the requirement that your patients interact with their health information and communicate with you or your practice electronically. (See Appendix A for the patient engagement requirements.) This requires additional technology to enable the secure sharing of health information and the associated tracking to generate the Meaningful Use reporting. Along with that, you will need to find a way to share the message with your patients that you want to interact electronically and have the ability to do so.
Most practices are meeting the requirement by implementing a patient portal. Care360 EHR clients are able to take advantage of the MyQuest Patient Portal which is included with their license. In addition to having the ability to meet the Meaningful Use requirements, using a Patient Portal will put more information into your patients’ hands allowing them to better manage their own healthcare.
While implementing a patient portal in your practice may seem like a daunting task, there are a number of tips to make it easier for your staff and your patients.
- Have all your staff fully trained on how the portal works and how to get patients connected. To accomplish this, have your staff review the user manual and create a test patient record and corresponding patient portal account so the staff can see for themselves how it works. Be sure the staff is ready to answer questions both in person and while on the phone.
- Create policies and procedures within your office about information you will push out to the portal and who is responsible for sending the information. Consider your office workflow and where using the portal might be more efficient than making phone calls. While all your patients may not be willing to use the portal, you could still save some time each week by sending secure messages instead of making phone calls. For example, sharing with patients that their lab results came back normal.
- Put up signs in your office promoting the new patient portal. Click here to download the Care360 MyQuest Patient Portal Office Flyer which you can use as is or use as an example to create your own. Put the signs in your waiting room, exam rooms and by the receptionist counter.
- Hand out flyers to your patients promoting the portal and the benefits of using it. Click here to download the Care360 MyQuest Patient Portal Patient handout to use as is or as an example to create your own.
- Consider adding a computer station in a public area of your office. Following a patient visit, have a staff member walk the patient through the setup of their MyQuest account and personal PIN verification. Then the staff member can show the patient how to view their clinical summary while in the office. Each patient who views their information while in the office will count towards the Meaningful Use measure of having 5% of your patients view their records.
- Mention your new patient portal on your office voice mail and encourage patients to ask the staff about setting up their own portal account. Be sure the staff answering the phone is prepared to answer questions the patients may have about the Patient Portal over the phone.
- Explain to patients during the visit what information you will send to their private Patient Portal account. For example; lab results, a copy of the current medications they have been prescribed along with instructions given by the physician are valuable and will encourage patients to login to the portal.
- Send messages to patients using the Patient Portal. Meeting the Meaningful Use requirement of having 5% of your patients send a message to the physician may be challenging. One trick is to send a message first to your patient with a question asking them to respond. It could be as simple as a follow-up on their visit asking if they have any further questions for the doctor. Each patient who responds counts towards meeting this requirement.
- Be open with patients during their visit about the options for secure messaging with the doctor and what types of messages are appropriate for secure messaging versus making a call to the office. For example, questions about something discussed during the appointment, understanding lab results or medication refill requests may be appropriate for electronic messaging.
- When patients come in with family members, include those family members in the discussion about your MyQuest Patient Portal. The ability to stay informed about what is happening with their parent, spouse or child will make the family member an advocate for the patient portal usage.
Even if you are not participating in the CMS EHR Incentive program, implementing a patient portal enhances the relationship you have with your patients by offering multiple ways to stay connected with your patients health needs. The MyQuest Patient Portal is an investment in patient care and your medical facility’s productivity.
To learn more about Care360 EHR or the MyQuest Patient Portal, please visit Care360.com or call 888-835-3409.
The Meaningful Use Objectives
Required Provide patients with clinical summaries for each office visit within 3 business days. This is required for more than 50% of all office visits during the reporting period.
Required Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information upon request. The requirement is that more than 50% of all patients requesting an electronic copy of their health information, are provided that information within 3 business days.
Optional Provide patients with timely electronic access to their health information (including lab results, problem list, medication list, allergies) within 4 business days of the information being available to the eligible professional. The requirement is that it is provided for more than 10% of all unique patients.
Required Use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients. The requirement is that more than 5% of patients send messages electronically to the provider.
Required Provide patients the ability to view online, download, and transmit their health information within 4 business days of the information being available to the provider.
- It is required that more than 50% of all unique patients are provided timely access and
- More than 5% of patients view or download their health information or transmit to a third party
Required Provide clinical summaries for patients for each office visit. This is required for more than 50% of office visit. It can be accomplished by handing printed copies to the patient or sending the information electronically.