All posts by Caitlin Cunningham

Patient Engagement in Rural Areas – Facing technology limitations

When it comes to patient engagement in rural areas, there are many challenges, one of the most prevalent being technology limitations. One key challenge is access to broadband services.  With the lack of broadband availability and the limited funding faced by most rural facilities it can seem nearly impossible to provide patients with access to the technology resources they need. How can we expect patients to engage if they are unable to access their information? This can also create another challenge around patient education.  If they don’t have access to technology, this can often mean that they have little to no experience with technology.

So what can be done to solve these challenges? First, identify where the technology is available, such as libraries and community centers.  You can educate patients on how to access and use these resources. Another way to tackle the issue of the lack of access to technology is by rolling out kiosks in designated areas, such as grocery or drug stores, so patients are able to access their information and engage with their physician. Pursuant Health has recently announced that they are partnering with the American Diabetes Association to provide the Association’s Diabetes Risk Test through Pursuant Health’s national in-store health kiosk network.

Another way to solve these patient engagement challenges is by organizing focus groups within your community and/or hospital to gather ideas on different ways to engage your patient population, and then use trial and error to track what works best. Another suggestion is setting up a discussion with another rural hospital that is currently or has recently overcome technology limitations. This would be incredibly beneficial for you team, and CoreTech can help arrange and lead the discussion to ensure that you walk away with ideas on how to improve these issues in your patient population. CoreTech can also conduct general research on your population, and provide additional suggestions based on the outcome of that research.

Your organization should market your new technology to promote adoption by your patients. By taking the time to evaluate and implement a marketing plan that will best target your patient population, you can really empower patients to want to take ownership of their personal health. Access to health information is as simple as logging into and sending an email, either at home, a local library or from a smart phone, and once patients understand the ease and convenience these tools offer, they are much more likely to use the technology. There are several positive outcomes you can use to motivate them, which include direct messaging and interaction with their physician, quicker access to their health information, better understanding of their health condition, faster and more thorough follow up, and the ability to correct errors they see in their patient record. As patients take greater ownership of their health and the technology tools available to them this will ultimately lead to reduced hospital readmission rates and less money out of patient pocket spent on unnecessary tests.

If your facility is facing technology limitations, you have the option to apply for a Hardship Exemption. When trying to meet Meaningful Use requirements, CMS will acknowledge that you have a certain set of challenges and will be more lenient with your numbers or extend your deadlines. For more information about how to apply for a hardship exception visit:  https://www.cms.gov/regulations-and-guidance/legislation/ehrincentiveprograms/paymentadj_hardship.html

You can also apply for grants to help fund new technology and patient education and ultimately be able to promote patient engagement. There are multiple resources that provide more detailed information on this subject. Here’s one source that provides information on the process of applying for grants and allows you to apply directly:  https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/funding/topics/technology-for-health-and-human-services

In rural areas, you have to get more creative with solutions for these kinds of issues, and are required to think outside of the box like the suggestions that we’ve provided above. CoreTech has years of experience helping rural facilities with their technology limitations, and we will use our expertise and experience to assist your organization in engaging your patients and improving your patient care. Contact CoreTech today and see how our team can help your facility overcome patient engagement challenges!  

CoreTech is offering a Patient Portal that ensures your organization meets Meaningful Use requirements!

CoreTech has recently partnered with Dynamic HealthIT and we are excited to offer their outstanding Patient Portal to our customers. Like CoreTech, this product is vendor agnostic, meaning the Patient Portal can be used in conjunction with other another vendor’s products or your existing tools. This alone could save an organization a substantial amount of money if this is the only application they’re looking to purchase! On top of that this Patient Portal is designed to meet the numerous requirements for Meaningful Use which is critical as we are winding up 2016 and heading into 2017.

Given CoreTech’s ample experience assisting organizations in meeting critical Meaningful Use  requirements, we understand the importance of finding the best product for your budget so you can begin tracking and reporting your numbers as soon as possible. From our years of experience working with patient portals we believe that it’s crucial to find a patient portal that enables you to meet Meaningful Use requirements as efficiently as possible.

CoreTech believes that this Patient Portal has several features that stand out and make it of great value for our customers. A prominent feature is that this Patient Portal meets both inpatient and ambulatory certified criteria for Meaningful Use. The Patient Portal also meets the Meaningful Use Stage 2 (2014 Edition) View, Download & Transmit requirement (VDT) – which provides patients the ability to view, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available. VDT is one of the most difficult Stage 2 requirements for both vendors & providers. It’s vital to meet these Meaningful Use requirements in order to avoid penalties and receive monetary incentives from CMS.

The Patient Portal also features a direct address book that allows patients to send and receive secure messages to their provider or clinical staff through the Intranet. This will help providers track patient engagement, which allows patients to take greater ownership of their healthcare, and allows faster and easier access for patients to communicate with those providing them care. The portal also offers built-in connectivity to the MaxMD HISP, with optional connectivity to other HISPs. This HISP functionality allows users to view, download and transmit the CCDA via Direct messaging. In addition to the features mentioned above, below are the Patient Portal’s additional outstanding features:

  • Web-based Dashboard for Administrators feature
  • Audit log for patients to monitor their Portal activity
  • Create Patient Portal accounts with or without Pin/Token
  • Broadcast public messages to personal email
  • Access to the Clinical Summary and ability to print those documents
  • Automatic and manual utilization reporting, if using the ADT feed
  • Customizable user interface and features for account activation and notifications
  • Customizations include: custom provider branding, custom disclaimer text and landing page, and user-friendly explanatory text

 CoreTech can assist your organization in determining if this patient portal will fulfill your needs. We achieve this by taking the time to understand your processes and workflow and aligning them with the functionality that this tool offers. CoreTech is the best company in the industry for you as we have years of experience implementing patient portals in both large and small organizations. We always put our clients needs first and will work diligently until we meet the needs of our customers. Contact CoreTech for more information and see how we can help your organization today!

The Importance of Normalized Data

According to CNN Money, medical errors are costing the industry $17 billion a year in wasted expenses, showing just how important it is to normalize data. Normalization is the process of organizing a relational database to reduce data and remove duplicated data. When proper patient matching isn’t done, patient’s information won’t follow them and the patient suffers. For hospitals, duplicate records aren’t just a minor record-keeping inconvenience. If a patient’s medical information is spread across separate records (or merged with another patient’s information), privacy rules could be broken and care could be negatively affected . Accurate patient data improves data sharing capabilities as hospitals and provider networks consolidate.

Communication among all parties is key when it comes to normalizing patient data. It starts with the registration staff at the hospital or when the patient walks into a provider office for an appointment; it’s vital that they are properly trained on how to capture all required information at check-in. To add to the complexity, application analysts within different departments (LAB, RAD, PATH, etc.) need to openly communicate with each other and the interface engineer to ensure data is being received in the required format. Although a hospital may require the data in one format, a vendor may require them to provide a different outbound format. Therefore, the person in charge of sending that data must understand the different needs of various vendors and confirm and document that they are able to send the data in the required format of their vendors. This goes for the vendor as well. All of this is critical for proper and accurate patient matching!

In our experience, we have dealt with a disconnect between departments and systems where they’re not using the same processes or standards for entering data. When you try to normalize that data, you’re unable to match the patient records. Bridging that gap is a complicated process and it varies based on hospitals and policies. It’s important to understand what tools are available within each hospital and then create a customized plan to move forward. At CoreTech, we believe that the EMPI (Enterprise Master Patient Index) is only as good as the data being fed into it. The hospital system needs to take responsibility to make sure they have good data which produces good results.

So how can CoreTech help? CoreTech can come in and evaluate the current processes, work with clinical staff and engineers and help come up with a solution to the problem. CoreTech is the best company for you because we truly have our customers best interest in mind and we’re vendor neutral. We’ll do the due diligence to ensure that you’re getting the best product to fulfill your specific needs. At CoreTech, our relationship with our customer is our number one priority. We’ll do what it takes to ensure that your organization is compliant and running smoothly by reducing medical errors. We will always keep you and your patients’ care as our top priority.

CoreTech is excited to offer an outstanding Quality Reporting Tool to our customers!

One of the products CoreTech is proud to offer as part of our partnership with DHIT is their CQMsolution Clinical Quality Reporting application. CQMsolution is an easy to use, web-browser-based application for calculating, displaying and producing clinical quality measures. CoreTech was recently notified that CQMsolution is now certified for ONC 2015 Edition (Stage 3/MACRA/MIPS) and Clinical Quality measure (eCQM) criteria for Meaningful Use! This is the latest criteria from ONC and CQMsolution is the first and only application available that meets this criteria. CQMsolution is certified on all 93 CMS eCQMs, which breaks down to the 29 Inpatient measures and 62 Ambulatory measures, including the 64 PQRS crossover measures. We have found this tool to be outstanding and highly recommend it to our customers.

CoreTech is excited to offer the CQMsolution application as we feel it has many benefits that will make a huge impact to any organization that is currently putting in the huge undertaking of tracking and reporting their numbers to meet Meaningful Use requirements. One critical benefit that the application offers is that it is vendor agnostic meaning you can use it as a bolt-on application with your existing tools or you can use it with the other DHIT products. Another benefit of this tool is the granularity it offers your organization to truly drill-down by each specific patient you have and see how they’re information plays a part in your performance with each measure you’re tracking. The ability to have this insight into your numbers and how you’re tracking each month is invaluable!

The CoreTech team will take the time needed to work with your organization to identify your reporting needs based on the measures you are required to track. Our goal is to help your team  assess how you can utilize the full reporting functionality of the CQMsolution application to meet Meaningful Use. Once this is completed and we determine that this application is a great fit for your organization, our experienced team will guide you through the implementation process so you can begin tracking your measures and reap the benefits as soon as possible. With assistance from CoreTech, this tool will help your organization avoid penalty fees and be compliant with the measures you are tracking. The deadline to submit Clinical Quality Measures (CQMs) to the Medicare EHR Incentive Program – and to submit EHR-based PQRS measures – is end of February, 2017.

In addition to the many benefits mentioned, below are CQMsolutions’ key functions and features:

  • User-friendly browser-based UI
  • Extracts data from your EHR database to calculate and display eCQMs.
  • For Stage 2 and 3 EPs (ECs in MACRA/MIPS), supports all PQRS measures aligned with CMS EHR Incentive Program and selected non-aligned measures.
  • Calculates Category III output directly from a database or by aggregating Category I QRDAs
  • Supports the latest CMS measures and latest Cypress version (3.0)
  • Includes QRDA Category I Report calculation and QRDA Category III output
  • Certified to support the latest version of all 93 CQMs
  • Supports all 64 aligned PQRS measures for EPs (additional PQRS Measures can be supported)
  • Imports QRDA I XML files or vendor-supplied data for Report Calculation
  • Performs optimal calculation of measures for QRDA III submission
  • Generates QRDA I, QRDA III and PQRS QRDA output from your data
  • Single Sign On (SSO) support
  • Audit log for monitoring system activity

At CoreTech, our primary focus is on building relationships with our customers; ultimately we want to help our clients find a robust reporting tool that best suits their needs. From experience, we understand how daunting the entire implementation process can be for our customers. That’s where CoreTech will become a huge asset to your organization because we have a total of over 15 years of project management experience with researching and implementing EMR’s, Patient Portals and Reporting applications.

Contact CoreTech today for more information and see how we can help your organization track and meet your Meaningful Use requirements!

The Frontier Community Health Integration Project Demonstration Will Implement New Technology And Improve Patient Engagement!

The Frontier Community Health Integration Project (FCHIP) Demonstration was created to develop and test new integrated and coordinated health care technology and practices in small, rural populations. The overall goal is to improve health outcomes and lower Medicare costs.

Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) often serve as the base for health care in the most rural populations, where specialty services may not be financially feasible due to lack of patients. The Frontier Community Health Integration Project Demonstration aims to support the CAH in keeping their patients in the community who might otherwise be transferred to providers in other cities for specialized care. According to the CMS website, “the specific objective is to test whether investing in certain services will enhance care for patients, increase integration and coordination of care among providers, and reduce avoidable hospitalizations, admissions and transfers, ultimately improving the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries and lowering costs.”

The Medicare payment changes for the selected CAHs went into effect August 1, 2016 for a duration of three years and is scheduled to end July 31, 2019. What were the requirements for the eligible organizations to participate in the Demonstration? The CAHs that were selected were located in a state in which at least sixty-five percent of its counties have a population density of six or fewer people per square mile.These states were limited to: Alaska, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming. The CAHs also had to express intent in meeting community health needs in areas of telemedicine, nursing facility care, home health services and ambulance services.

The project includes new processes, education of medical staff, implementing new technology that is targeted for rural communities to increase patient engagement and educating the patient in those areas and on how to take ownership of their health. This demonstration could make a huge impact in rural communities and greatly improve patient care.

CoreTech has experience with rural facilities and we encourage HIT and new implementations that lead the way in technology. We’ve assisted other rural facilities in implementing new technologies such as patient portals, telemedicine, and connecting to an HIEs. We are excited to see the results and actions implemented by the hospitals from this demonstration. The results from this process will prove that although implementing new technology and processes is tedious, it will pay off in the end by increasing patient engagement and patient care.

We’d love to create a discussion with you on this project or other projects CoreTech is working on that relate to this project. Contact us for us for more information or check out CMS’ website for more information on FCHIP: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Frontier-Community-Health-Integration-Project-Demonstration