How Oncologists Can Navigate the Meaningful Use Waters

lighthouse is rough seas
Painting by Sue Nichol

Navigating the waters of Meaningful Use, Patient Centered Medical Home, Accountable Care Organizations and the ACoS Commission on Cancer standards is a full time task for community oncology clinics to manage. Clinics and staff have a number of options to choose from to help solve these challenges. While the variety of solutions may cause more confusion, it’s clear that change is occurring and practices must adapt to those changes as patient centered care and patient engagement continues to be a required element of new care standards and payer models.

The good news is there are great solutions helping clinics solve these important issues. When done right, practices can implement technology that will help them solve all the aforementioned challenges. To ensure you make the best decision that will support current and future practice needs, you should take a broader, long-term view as you compare technology solutions. The best solution is one that can address and solve multiple challenges, while not adding administrative burden to clinic staff and resources. Over the coming months, we will look at all the emerging incentives and programs and what practices should consider when solving for each.

Solving Meaningful Use: Patient Portals Necessary to Achieve Patient Centered Care

This is the last year to receive the maximum payment for Stage 1 of the HITECH Act incentives to “meaningfully use” technology to improve quality of care. One of the five priorities of the Meaningful Use objectives is to engage patients and their families in their care. A patient portal will be necessary to deliver and meet these objectives, as there are four specific rules that require patients to be connected to their healthcare team to receive critical information that will help them be more engaged in their care.

While the short-term solution is to meet the requirements for Stage 1, we encourage practices to consider a solution that will also help them solve the Stage 2 & 3 objectives. If you can integrate one solution now that is designed to adapt to future needs, it will save you from having to find a new solution when the short-term fix is no longer relevant.  Navigating Cancer is the only certified, oncology specific patient engagement portal that is 100% focused on the patient, solving all the patient engagement objectives (and more) to make it easier for practices to qualify for all three stages of the HITECH incentives.

Easy–to-Use Technology = Positive Patient Experiences

While it’s important to choose a patient portal solution that will allow you to meet Meaningful Use, it’s more important to choose a solution that patients will actually use and will improve clinic workflow.  The online patient registration module of Navigating Cancer’s Patient Engagement Portal improves practice efficiency by integrating with your PM and EMR systems, eliminating duplicate data entry of key demographic information.

This systems integration reduces staff workload while improving data accuracy as patients input their own health information from home where they have access to their medical records and can complete the process when it’s most convenient for them.  At the same time, it is proven to improve patient satisfaction, with over 90% of patients preferring it to filling out paper forms in the waiting room.

Technology Should Make Your Job Easier

Having key clinical information integrated into the EMR via a PDF also reduces staff workload. Staff no longer has to scan this information into their systems. Releasing patient health information is as easy as clicking a button to deliver important updates to the patient via secure messaging. While this will require your staff to adopt new processes as part of their workflow, the process improvement from the registration module and the reduction of phone calls from patients asking for copies of their labs will offset this new challenge.

Consider the manual, costly paper intensive way of doing things today as one system your staff works in, and the Patient Engagement Portal simply replaces that system with a more efficient one that patients love! Implementing a patient portal will be a process change, but by improving patient data flow, this change can be positive.

Think Beyond Stage 1 of Meaningful Use

Most of the technology solutions in the marketplace today help you solve Stage 1 of Meaningful Use in a very transactional way. Patients can only access their personal health information via read only downloads. The problem with these solutions is that Meaningful Use is designed to engage patients in their care, and this user experience is not one that makes it easy for patients to be more engaged. Consider a solution that allows you to put the patient at the center of care and engage them differently.

The best solution is one that is focused only on the patient and is oncology specific. A solution that is focused on solving all stages of Meaningful Use, not just Stage 1. A patient portal that can help you meet not just the Meaningful Use objectives, but also the objectives of Patient Centered Medical Home, Accountable Care Organizations and the ACoS Commission on Cancer standards. Choose the best of breed technology, the leading patient portal serving hundreds of providers in the oncology market; Navigating Cancer’s Patient Engagement Portal.

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