Late Adopting Specialists Struggle With MU Portal Requirements

March 28, 2014 in News

Specialty physicians who are late adopters of electronic health records could face challenges meeting patient portal requirements under Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, according to a study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, Health Data Management reports (Goth, Health Data Management, 3/27).

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Study Details

For the study, researchers looked at data from 2010 to 2012 of users of a patient portal that was connected to an EHR system at:

  • A multispecialty academic group practice; and
  • 10 associated community primary care clinics.

The researchers examined patient portal enrollment, use and satisfaction (Medical News Today, 3/26).

Study Findings

Overall, the researchers found that enrollment in the patient portal increased from 13.2% to 23.1% between 2010 and 2012. However, they noted that the enrollment varied significantly by physician specialty.

The study found that 38% of all physicians in 2013 would have met the meaningful use requirement for email communication. However, that figure varied significantly by physician type. For example, the study found that 87% of primary care providers would have met the email communication threshold, compared with 37% of specialists.

Meanwhile, the study found that more than 97% of physicians would have met a meaningful use Stage 2 requirement that patients download their personal health information.

In addition, researchers found that users reported high satisfaction with the portal and portal-based emails (Neuner et al, American Journal of Medical Quality, 3/21).

Recommendations

The researchers noted that specialists who do not provide as much chronic care are unlikely to generate as many emails. As a result, they said it may be more appropriate for such providers to have different requirements for meaningful use payments, such as “providing patient education or postoperative instructions online.”

They added that future research into communication between specialists and patients “could focus on patients’ perceptions of the most valuable online information as well as the role of care teams consisting of both specialists and PCPs” (Health Data Management, 3/27).

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