As many of you know there is a federal EHR incentive program available, which compensates eligible dental providers up to $63,750 for both acquisition and use of a certified dental EHR program. There is some skepticism by the dental provider community that the federal EHR incentives will actually be paid out.
Well, to answer that question, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Joseph Nelson of Pure Dental who has used MacPractice successfully for over two years and has been paid not just for the initial year of eligibility. However, he is one of the few dental providers who has actually received his second year reimbursement for what is known as Meaningful Use of the MacPractice certified EHR. This is a major milestone as a number of providers have received first year incentive monies, but might not have utilized the right software to satisfy federal requirements for years two through six. It appears MacPractice along with Dr. Nelson conscientious use of the software has allowed him to do just that.
In a recent podcast with Dr. Nelson I asked him about not only his success at acquiring two years of EHR incentives, but also about how he uses the MacPractice EHR to benefit his clinical workflow is well as his practice efficiency as a whole. So, what has use of a dental EHR meant to Dr. Nelson?
Dr. Nelson purchased his practice a couple of years ago and recognized that in order to get where he needed to go clinically with some of the healthcare changes on the horizon, he would need to replace the software that came along with the practice with new software to accommodate where things were going. And, having an affinity to using Apple computers the obvious choice at the time was MacPractice.
After having used a number of dental software programs over the years, Dr. Nelson mentioned that as his practice had more electronic components, it was becoming more necessary to have software that integrated those components together. He purchased the EHR based on certain needs he had prior to completely understanding the federal EHR incentive program. So, actually he acquired the EHR with making his practice more efficient in mind, and the fact that he was able to use it for the EHR incentive program was icing on the cake.
We discussed how some dental software vendors have chosen to partner with a medically EHR (see Certified EHR Smoke and Mirrors), whereas others such as MacPractice have integrated the federal quality measures within the dental software workflow. Dr. Nelson pointed out that within his software there were numerous clinical reports which supported the information you needed to present to the Massachusetts Medicaid EHR Incentive program in order to receive his dollars. Flexibility and breath of reporting is an important function in any EHR, and especially when you're using the EHR to acquire Incentive money.
Dr. Nelson discussed some of the clinical quality measures which are included in the program and that the federal government requires for obtaining federal incentive dollars from the second year going forward. When filling out their patient profile Dr. Nelson's patients can specify issues that they have and based on those issues Dr. Nelson and his staff can suggest programs for them.
To alleviate the concerns that some dental providers have regarding some of the medically oriented measures required for EHR incentive attestation, Dr. Nelson and I discussed some of the flexibility that dental providers have in terms of various exclusions that Medicaid allows, for example, a dental provider does not necessarily do immunizations, or measure BMI. So, measures like that can be excluded.
I asked Dr. Nelson to put the EHR incentive program aside for a moment and expand on how EHR has actually improved his patient care. He pointed out that there are many health indicators and measures, as well as standards which are not normally captured with most dental software, but which MacPractice, as a requirement of being certified, does capture (See Is certified dental software better?).
One of the more interesting functions that we discussed was the patient use of an iPad to enter health and profile information which is ported directly into the patient's chart for review by the dental provider. We also discussed the use of tablets to gather information in the operatory. He referred to the "clinical dashboard" capability which provides a lot of information about the patient at the provider’s fingertips. Dr. Nelson discussed how the many forms and consents he provides to his patients are available on the iPad. Finally, he used the iPad creatively within the operatory is to present real-time patient education.
Going forward, Dr. Nelson definitely plans on applying for the next few years of the EHR incentive money. He pointed out that with MacPractice as his preferred tool and their commitment to keep up with certification, the requirements to gather information for the incentive program will not be as challenging as one might expect.
About Mike Uretz
Mike Uretz is a nationally-recognized Dental software and Electronic Health Records (EHR) expert. He is the founder of DentalSoftwareAdvisor.com, as well as the Dental EHR Editor for Dental Products Report.
As an industry consultant and educator, Mike has helped individual practices and multi-clinic groups properly evaluate and select software vendors and solutions, structure and negotiate pricing and contracts , provide implementation oversight and vendor management.
As a speaker and educator Mike has published numerous dental software focused columns and articles for a number of dental industry publications and websites and conducted next generation dental software and electronic health records workshops and seminars for associations, dental societies and universities around the country.