The Missing Link




Meaningful Use – the bane of healthcare it seems. Per CMS, it is the use of “certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to: Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities. Engage patients and family. Improve care coordination, and population and public health. Maintain privacy and security of patient health information.” In the world of the Healthcare Administrator it means reimbursement payments from an EHR incentive program are possible if you meet the criteria established by CMS. To the IT staffers it is something they needed all this new equipment for. And to the person or persons entrusted with completing the paperwork, it means an overwhelming, seemingly impossible challenge.

Clinicians begrudgingly enter the data, wanting only for things to be like they used to. Billers and Coders try to tie up the loose ends, fearing the impending ICD-10 conversion which is guaranteed to muddle things further. CFOs scan the reimbursements, wanting as much money as possible to gain a better return on investment for this exorbitantly costly EHR system. Many times heads turn to IT, since they were so heavily involved in the project and implementation, but most IT departments can offer little in the way of assistance. Many of them lack a clear understanding of what is needed other than support for the new electronics.

There is a missing link. To identify, manage and manipulate the data to complete the Meaningful Use attestation process, the final requirement for reimbursement, an Analyst is essential. The title given this person or person is immaterial, but here are the skills and traits you are looking for:

  1. In depth knowledge of the organization’s workflow
  2. Project experience, familiarity with all facets of the EHR in use
  3. Ability to learn and adapt to change efficiently
  4. Strategic planning capabilities
  5. Advocacy and coaching

Find someone with these skills and your path to Meaningful Use reimbursement is much smoother. A general question to ask in your search of this person is, “Do you like to do puzzles?” Sounds silly, I know, but one who enjoys doing puzzles has an analytic mind. What will fit here is their constant subconscious thought. Finding just the right piece, word or piece of information that will make a seamless finish.

Things are only going to get more intense in healthcare. Regulations will continue to morph. Audits will continue and likely increase with increased interoperability. As data becomes more centralized it will be easier to identify potential areas (i.e. – organizations) with weakness that can then be targets for audits. ICD-10 is around the corner which will, and already has, become a frightening prospect for healthcare workers.

Look to your IT staffers who are puzzle lovers. Check those in your arcane antiquated Medical Records Departments that are diligent data divas, always finding those unsigned records, nonsensical phrases and other obscure issues. Hold a puzzle marathon and watch for those who excel, who don’t tire, but instead reach for another cup of coffee in an attempt to finish cleanly.

If you identify no one in your employ, search for a third party to employ long enough to help detail and document the process and train someone internally. Or, employ a third party when attestation is due.

Find your analysts. Analysts are puzzle solvers. Meaningful Use is a challenging puzzle and they will thrive.