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Putting meaningful-use reporting on autopilot

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  By Tom S. Lee, Ph.D.,  October 30, 2013

Learn how The GW Medical Faculty Associates captured $1.8M of unexpected MU incentives, while freeing up staff time to tackle new initiatives.

Being able to put a set of tasks “on autopilot” is a fortunate option to have. Through automating repetitive, manually intensive and error-prone tasks, better and faster outcomes at lower cost can be achieved. It turns out that end-to-end meaningful-use (MU) reporting and attestation for eligible providers are automatable, despite the common assumption that provider organizations have to resort to both spreadsheets and sweat. The GW Medical Faculty Associates’ (GWMFA) story illustrates both the problem and the solution that the 800-doctor ambulatory medical group realized when it decide to automate its MU proces

In the fall of 2012, GWMFA observed its providers wavering in and out of MU compliance, and rumors of a slow CMS attestation site were causing concern. The organization was beginning to feel the administrative pain of having to manually run EHR MU reports across hundreds of providers, managing the data on spreadsheets, determining who was eligible and compliant, identifying actionable performance gaps and manually submitting the data to CMS. Time was of the essence as $5,000 of incentives would be lost for each provider that did not achieve MU in 2012, according to the Medicare incentive program. Yet, the burden on staff and chance for human error in carrying out the needed MU reporting tasks were growing every day. Plus, the threat of MU audits in 2013 was looming.

GWMFA was continually discovering new reporting tasks that its EHR vendor had not addressed, such as identifying compliant 90-day report windows, importing attestation status for new providers, projecting MU incentive dollars and capturing audit trails. Furthermore, staff anticipated the need to track the myriad combinations of MU payment year, program and stage that would grow in number among its provider population in subsequent years. The organization concluded that it needed help with MU reporting and attestation in order to both reach its 2012 goal of attesting 100 providers and to future-proof its process for managing MU data.

With the end of 2012 rapidly approaching, GWMFA decided to partner with SA Ignite, Inc. and implement the company’s MU Assistant solution, a cloud-based platform that automates the full range of MU reporting and attestation tasks for eligible providers and includes a 1-click attestation capability. The platform automatically extracts, organizes and submits all MU functional and clinical quality measures, accelerating the MU performance improvement cycle and reducing staff burden. Using this technology, GWMFA was able to view its MU data in MU Assistant within 2 weeks of the start of implementation 

By early January 2013, the organization had doubled its attestation goal by attesting its 201st provider. By MU Assistant automatically back-loading MU data for Q4 2013, GWMFA managers were able to see daily 90-day windows and pinpoint compliant providers who were only compliant for minimal spans of time. “Over 30 providers only met a 90-day period for one or two days,” says Anna Abel, program manager at GWMFA. “While we thought that provider behavior would be consistent over a time period, we found fluctuations on various measures that meant compliance wasn’t assured. We used MU Assistant’s Provider Compliance report to view rolling 90-day windows and find these 30 ‘needle in the haystack’ providers, which we doubt we would have found otherwise.”

An additional 20 providers were able to reach compliance due to the easy availability of daily MU reports provided by the platform. The platform’s automatic capture of attestation artifacts increased audit assurance without additional staff time.

GWMFA earned $1.8M in unexpected incentives, $500,000 of which would have vanished forever based on the structure of the Medicare MU program. Factoring in staff time savings, the estimated return on investment on the MU Assistant platform was 450 percent achieved in less than 6 months.

About the author

Tom S. Lee, Ph.D., is the CEO and founder of SA Ignite, Inc. Learn more at www.saignite.com.


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