Peter Mercuri is a practice transformation specialist with Quality Insights, a not-for-profit company focused on measuring and improving healthcare quality. Over the years, the Regional Extension Center, now known as Quality Insights, has assisted over 4,000 physicians in the state of Pennsylvania with the transition from paper documents to electronic health records (EHR).
With 90% of these physicians being Medicare providers, Mercuri regularly supports practices in reporting for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Meaningful Use (MU), and now the Quality Payment Program (QPP), established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. Among other projects, Mercuri and his associates are currently providing services to small and rural practices to help them comply with MACRA requirements, thanks to supporting grants provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
In addition to helping physicians with reporting, Mercuri performs security risk assessments for practices who are finding out more about how to keep patient data secure. He is certified in healthcare information security and privacy, is a HIPAA security administrator, and is on the Privacy and Security committee for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Many of the physicians Mercuri works with still struggle in generating reports for PQRS, MU, and now the QPP. Part of his job is to assist physicians in assessing their performance in quality categories, predicting their scores, and identifying areas for improvement.
“The smaller practices simply don’t have enough staff to handle this,” he said. “And that’s understandable because their main job is to provide patient care.”
Mercuri provides guidance to these physicians on practice reporting and having the IT structures in place to make this successful. This means practices must know how to leverage their EHRs successfully, and part of that means having the right EHR. Many EHRs are struggling to keep up with the new QPP certifications and requirements.
“With the QPP underway, and physicians reporting for MIPS, a lot of EHR systems are working hard to get up-to-date with certifications and to offer the correct reports to meet these new requirements,” he said.
Mercuri likes helping doctors with this technical side of their job, and enjoys keeping pace with how the healthcare landscape is evolving in order to help them be successful. But he says the nature of his work has shown him that not every solution can meet reporting requirements. For instance, Mercuri says some EHRs cannot provide accurate numbers for those suffering with chronic diseases like diabetes.
“With some systems, it’s hard to get good timely data for things like this, and now we’re moving to MIPS, so physicians need to know, and report on, the A1c levels of their diabetes patient and show improvement. Right now many systems simply cannot provide that type of information.”
Given the nature of his job, Mercuri has worked with 40 different EHRs, as each physician’s office has its own solution. His preferred solution is QuanumTM EHR by Quest Diagnostics.
Quanum EHR is fully certified for 2017 based on 2014 Edition Certification and the associated regulatory requirements. MACRA requires EHRs to advance to the 2015 Edition Certification by January 2018, and Quanum is already taking steps to be ready for that deadline.
“The Quanum EHR has made my life easier,” he said. “I can honestly tell you that I like working with the Quanum system. It is much more intuitive than other systems. For instance, I can easily get the numbers I need about chronic disease patients to generate reports for MIPS.”
Mercuri is currently working with 20 practices using Quanum Clinical & Financial Solutions. He has noticed that when switching to an EHR from paper records, or when reporting for the CMS incentive programs, Quanum is among the easiest to use, especially when getting started. And while he may be helping a physician with reporting one year, the following year or even sooner that practice is able to handle reporting on their own.
“Quanum technical support is great,” he said. “I think it’s the best of all the systems. If I have a question, or one of the practices I work with has a question, we get help right away. You don’t have to open up a ticket, or wait for a phone call the next day. Usually, a consultant will assist you right then.”
Mercuri also says that some systems can bring great financial cost to practices, but that Quanum does not.
“Many big-name EHRs can be expensive and once a practice signs up it’s hard to switch to another vendor,” he said. “Working with Quanum over the years, I can say that the customer is a lot happier than the ones I see using some of those other systems.
“When it comes to capturing the right information and getting paid by CMS versus what the EHR costs, the physicians using Quanum are getting their money’s worth. I think Quest provides the best value.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit that Mercuri sees the Quanum EHR bring to his physician clients is time.
“There are fewer clicks and it’s more intuitive,” he said. “And when physicians have a question, they know they will be able to immediately get an answer from a local representative. This is especially crucial at the end of the year when a practice is nearing the deadline for reporting.”
“For physicians who are looking to switch, I think Quanum EHR is one they should definitely consider,” said Mercuri.