Category Archives: Patient Portal

E-prescribing with SequelMed

sequelmed EPCSThis post originally appeared on the Practice EHR blog. For more information about e-prescribing for controlled substances using SequelMed please contact us

Benefits of an EPCS Certified EHR

In response to the nation’s climbing prescription drug abuse problem, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) finalized a rule in 2010, permitting electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS). Today, e-prescribing is legal in all 50 states, and becoming increasingly popular. According to SureScripts’ 2015 National Report, the number of e-prescriptions have doubled since 2012.

So why is EPCS becoming more and more of a standard practice? EPCS is a step in the right direction to fighting fraud and abuse of controlled substances and provides numerous benefits for physicians and their patients, outlined below.

Benefits of EPCS

  • Makes prescribing more efficient and secure – With EPCS, physicians can send prescriptions for patients directly to the pharmacy from within the EHR at the point of care, instead of having to handwrite a prescription that could potentially get lost or stolen or prompt a phone call from a pharmacist needing further clarification.
  • Reduces medication errors, fraud and abuse – By eliminating the need for paper prescription pads, EPCS ensures prescriptions are getting into the right hands. EPCS has also been proven to improve prescription accuracy by preventing drug to allergy interactions, incorrect dosing, illegible prescriptions, etc. With EPCS, long gone are the days pharmacies receive scripts they can’t read.
  • Added convenience and safety, for physicians and patients – With EPCS, physicians can confidently and seamlessly e-prescribe controlled substances to their patient’s pharmacy. EPCS ensures the prescription reaches the pharmacy and the patient can easily pick up their medication, also improving patient medication adherence.

EPCS has proven to be beneficial for physicians and although legal, EPCS has not been mandated nationwide with the exception of four states. The following have passed legislation, mandating electronic prescriptions for controlled substances:

  • Virginia
  • New York
  • Minnesota
  • Maine

Interested in EPCS?

Many medical practices realize the benefits of EPCS and want to partake, even if not required by their state. To begin e-prescribing for controlled substances there are a few initial steps: (1) use an EPCS certified application (EPCS certified means the application has completed testing and certification through a third party auditor, required by the DEA) and (2) complete the provider authentication process

Ready to begin EPCS?  Contact Us

Patient Portals: The First Step to Patient Engagement

Engaging your patients in their care process and in the management of records is not only the Meaningful Use incentive program requirement but also is the need of the time. More than ever, patients want to access their health records online and perform some basic tasks connecting with the care provider through internet.

40% patients want to get appointment reminders through the internet, 29% of the surveyed patients want treatment reminders through the web connection, according to a survey report conducted by InsightExpress. The report further details about the services patients find valuable if offered via internet, i.e.

patient-portals-engagement

Source: Cisco customer experience report for health care

Ironically, Patient Portals are offering more than that what health consumers are engaged in now. See complete list of SequelMed Patient Portal features or Read relevant articles on the topic of Patient Portal

According to the statistics retrieved from Health Tracking Survey shows, 41 percent of 1,745 surveyed patients who used internet for reading reviews about a medical provider. It all shows a passive behavior from the patients’ side who are only interested in accessing health information and less engaged in contributing their part. Apprehending the situation, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) took a number of initiatives, such as, Consumer eHealth Program and Blue Button initiative and outlined a Patient Engagement Framework.

These initiatives aimed at enticing active participation of the patients in the care process. The plan is simple; physicians are expected to share patients’ health records through an integrated EHR system and a Patient Portal. At the basic level, the tasks which the patients and providers should collaborate are: managing appointment schedules provide clinical summaries, reminders for follow-up care and exchanging relevant educational material with patients through online portals. Moreover, patients can view, download and transmit their health records.

The advanced tasking includes: online payments, specialty referral, e-visit consultation and prescription renewal / refills. To achieve this level of patient engagement, an integrated Patient Portal is the first step which would ultimately lead to responsive health consumers and shared decision making.

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EHRs and Patient Engagement

While the US population is a relatively tech-savvy bunch, the question lies in how will providers fare with the new Stage 2 Meaningful Use Core Objective requiring patient engagement and health information exchange?

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CMS has taken the Stage 1 requirement to the next level, placing a heightened emphasis on patient engagement so as to make the patient more of an active participant in their health care. The Stage 2 measure requires that 50% of all unique patients are given the ability to access to their health information within 4 business days of the information being available to the provider. The second part to that measure requires more than 5% to view, download or transmit that data to a third party. Prior to the adjusted proposed rule, the 5% threshold was 10%, however CMS saw fit to decrease the requirement as there was worry that the failure to meet the threshold was too driven by the action required by the patient. The adjusted threshold should now help to make this an achievable goal for providers.

A suggestion to providers if they have not done so already is to implement an online patient portal into their EHR functionality in 2013, before Stage 2 takes effect in 2014. The online portal which is designed to give patients immediate access to their health information plays a key role in the new measure. There is also another patient-centered measure that requires providers to engage in secure two-way messaging with patients through portals which is another reason why the implementation of the patient portal is a fundamental step in meeting the new requirements. Within Stage 1, providing patients their health information was more passive. Stage 2 moves passed that and more or less forces the patients to utilize the patient portal. Just having access to the information via the patient portal is not enough. Now, providers and practice staff must incorporate the use of the patient portal into their practice workflow so as to truly encourage the engagement of the portals use to get patients involved in their care. The role of patient engagement is likely to evolve further with the future stages of Meaningful Use, so the sooner a providers patient population becomes accustomed to using and experiencing the benefits of the patient portal, the better it will be for all parties involved, especially the provider who needs to meet a threshold.

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5 Immediate benefits of a Patient Portal

Patient Portal deployment at a medical practice boosts productivity and efficiency, as well as helping to engage patients in the health care process. It frees up additional time to handle more patient visits and presumably a physician practice can save up to $124 an hour. Calculating it for a year, on average a practice of three physicians can add $135,780 additional revenue per annum by integrating a Patient Portal with the practice management systems. More than that, an online Patient Portal can dramatically bring down the running cost of a medical practice by reducing spending on communication (phone, fax, mail), online payment processing and through virtualization of clinical tasks.

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Besides these long-term estimated savings, using an online Patient Portal integrated with an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system and Practice Management solutions, imparts instant benefits right from the day of deployment.

Here are five immediate benefits of a Patient Portal that it brings to a medical practice.

  1.  View, download and transmit PHRs

Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use incentive program has obligated eligible professionals that they must provide timely online access to the medical information, to more than 50% of patients. In addition, they must ensure that 5% of the patients seen in that period view or download their medical information or transmit it to a third party. An online Patient Portal integrated with an EHR system offers the most secure and flexible mean of transmitting health records which the patients can remotely view, download and share.

  2.  Improves coordination and communication

Effective communication is the lifeblood of an organization. Patient Portal deployment at a medical facility dramatically enhances communication within the facility and with the patients. It brings down communication spending on telephone bills, fax, and mail and replaces them with cheaper web based communication tools. Patients send appointment requests and they are confirmed back through the Patient Portal. Online messaging, reminders, alerts are added features which make communication more effective.

  3.  Practice management virtualization

Patient Portals are not only about filling communication gaps; they have facilitated many of the practice management tasks. For instance, patient referrals and health record sharing becomes as easy as to send an email. Similarly, patient requests for medication refills, authorization and many such queries no more require a clinical visit rather they are managed through the portal. Providers can pass on electronic copies of lab test results and reports to their patients which are accessible through secure portal logins.

  4.  Connected and informed patients

Engaging patients in the care process is the focus of the current health care reforms. Patients are taking ownership of their health records and actively participate in the decision taking process. Patient Portals are instrumental in making all this possible when doctors send clinical summaries of each clinic visit and share informative health education through dedicated Portals.

  5.  Payment updates and follow-ups

Informing patients of their due bills, copay, online bill payment and payment followups are among the unique features of Patient Portals. Physicians update their patients about due medical bills and patients pay the bills using online payment solutions. It is very helpful for an effective revenue cycle management.

Visit SequelMed Patient Portal homepage for a complete list of features and benefits of this advanced health care solution.

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Meaningful Use program has spurred the growth of patient portals

Meaningful Use program requirements are mostly viewed in context with the valuable use of EHRs, although, it has equally prioritized the incumbent use of online patient portals for health care providers.

Here are a few Meaningful Use criteria requirements that have been projected at different stages of the program which necessitate patient portal integration in health care.

  • Use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information.
  • Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostic test results, problem list, medication list, medication allergies).
  • Provide patients with an electronic copy of their discharge Instructions at the time of discharge.
  • The eligible professional who transitions their patient to another setting of care or provider of care or refers their patient to another provider of care should provide a summary of care records for each transition of care or referral.
  • Eligible professionals must provide more than half their patients with secure electronic access to their health information within 4 business days.
  • At least 5% of patients view, download, or transmit their health information to a third party.
  • Transmit patient data to a portal or to a referring physician within 36 hours of discharge.

[Read also: Meaningful Use of a Patient Portal]

57% of providers are currently using a patient portal solution.

And the number is growing everyday. Although, some of the health care providers have been using patient portal solutions for many years now but stage 2 of the Meaningful Use has really spurred its adoption rate. Today, patient portals are furnished with advanced features and tools, for instance:

The patient portal must bridge the provider-patient communication gaps and should offer communication tools, such as, patient registration, appointment scheduling and online access to health records.

It should offer the provider the capability to authorize prescription renewal and refill. Lab reports and results can be accessed through the portal.

It should maintain the history of patient visits along with the medical records and patient history along with medication detail, immunization schedule and allergy lists.

The portal should be capable of processing reminders and alerts for the patients.

Online payment management is an added feature that, if integrated into the patient portal can streamline the billing process.

An overview of advanced features and benefits of SequelMed Patient Portal would explicitly explain the features and benefits of this health care solution.