- Stage 2 Meaningful Use requires that eligible providers engage their patients, but for one eligible hospital it has been the impetus for a new approach to patient engagement.
Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Kentucky is preparing to begin its Stage 2 Meaningful Use reporting period on July 1 with no plans to make use of the recent proposed modifications to the EHR Incentive Programs in 2014. In fact, as the healthcare organization’s IT Director Maleigha Amyx explains, Stage 2 meaningful use has played an important role in helping make patient engagement a priority.
In the following one-on-one interview, Amyx describes how patient engagement in Stage 2 Meaningful Use is leading Rockcastle Regional Hospital toward expanding their functionalities.
What impact does the proposed rule modifying meaningful use in 2014 have on your organization?
It has not been approved yet, so we can’t go by that. We’ve been advised to not even read it because honestly since it has not been approved, you don’t know where you’re going to be. We’d rather be meeting all the measures and be where we’ve been working toward all this time. It has been much more work. For IT, it has been a lot more work as far as the patient portal and secure messaging. Those two areas are coupled with meeting all your measures. There were many changes.
What does patient engagement look like at Rockcastle Regional?
For us, the patient portal is a place where patients can go and login in to look at such things as their lab or radiology results on their own. We don’t do our secure messaging or communication to the physician from that patient portal. We allow the patient to sign up for the portal at registration and then an email is sent to that patient indicating where to go. If the patient has a problem, the patient can just call the IT department here at the hospital. It has worked really, really well. We implemented that in November of last year and are very happy with it and our community has received it very well.
We’re in rural Kentucky and we didn’t think many people would be receptive to it, but they love it. We get calls saying, “When will my lab be out there? When will my radiology result be out there? I’m able to access my portal.” We’ve had a high percentage of patients who have logged in and truly used it.
Our you going to expand these patient engagement activities as a result of this response?
Yes, we have a physician practice software that we’re just now implementing for our physicians — and it’s a different vendor than our hospital solution — and we would like to see instead of having a separate patient portal have them send messages out through our portal so that patients would be able to go to one place and see both their physician information as well as the tests they have done in the office as well as the hospital. We would like to see that happen.
What about the challenge of meaningful use reporting to public health agencies?
We are lucky in Kentucky. We have a group called Kentucky Health Information Exchange. When data is put into our system MEDHOST automatically extracts that data behind the scenes and sends it on to KHIE without us even knowing it. We then get a weekly report from MEDHOST telling us how many patients went through for immunizations, syndromic surveillance, or the lab. It’s all behind the scenes and just seamless. We have worked on that for some time. We’ve had weekly calls for six months or longer. Both KHIE and MEDHOST work really well together and we have made a lot of progress. It’s good, real good. Our work is already done. It has been working for some time, so honestly we just have a few calls left and won’t have anymore because they won’t be needed as long as our reports still reflect that we’re receiving data successfully.
What concerns do you have about Stage 2 meaningful use?
When a patient is transferred out of your facility, the exchange of the CCD document electronically to another facility that uses a different EHR is a concern. The challenge for all of Kentucky is getting another system equipped to receive your data. Today, the University of Kentucky is working on that and is almost there, so we perceive to be able to exchange information with them, but many are simply not ready — whether it’s the vendor or provider— they are not ready. That’s the number one concern for Rockcastle Regional, anyways. It’s so hard because if you have no one to exchange with, how can you meet that.