In addition, the practice was already using the health management aspect of its HER, which provides recommendations, such as tests or screenings, for patients based on age or disease, as part of its effort to achieve the PCMH designation. OHMA was using practice analytics to identify diabetic patients with high blood sugar levels, for example, and it had processes in place for a nurse to follow up with those patients.
Because OHMA had these processes and the capability to collect data, "it became fairly easy to meet the level one meaningful use criteria," Gold says.
"The thing that we had the most difficulty with was giving patients the summary description of their visit," he notes. OHMA didn't previously offer patients a synopsis of their visit, so it had to change its work flow to meet that element of meaningful use.
Generating the summary description is an extra step in the process, and you need multiple levels of backup to make sure that it gets done, says Gold. "Establishing it to be done on a consistent basis was the hardest part."
To ensure that patients received the summary description, physicians were trained to generate the summary, nurses were trained to follow up with physicians, and receptionists were trained to check that the summary was done and offer it to the patients.
"Now we give it to patients as they leave the reception desk," Gold says. Ironically, he estimates that 95% of patients don't even want the summary, and "the 5% who do want it are happy to go on to the patient portal and get it."