Ten Things Optometrists Should Do Right Now to Implement EHRs

  1. Formulate a strategy for the implementation of certified EHRs in your practice.
  2. Know the major EHR implementation deadlines (See “EHR Deadlines”).
  3. Become familiar with the federal government’s standards for the "meaningful use” of electronic health records. Remember real use of EHRs means utilizing the full scope of EHR functions to enhance patient care – not just practice management or claim filing functions.
  4. Determine if your practice software will provide the functions necessary for meaningful EHR use (and meet federal EHR certification standards.)
  5. Become familiar with the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act HiTECH inventive programs for EHR utilization. Determine which incentive program (Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid) will be best suited to your practice. Understand the exact benefits, limitations, qualifications and payment provisions for each. Be aware that “early adopters” will face the fewest qualifying hurdles and receive the largest incentive payments.
  6. Begin participating in the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) that provides its own incentives for EHR use – and will be required for meaningful use of EHRs (See AOA Web site Medicare Physician Quality Reporting Initiative page – www.aoa.org/pqri.xml).
  7. Begin e-prescribing pharmaceuticals (using a two-way, interactive e-Rx system); a requirement for meaningful EHR use that can also help practitioners earn Medicare PQRI bonuses and avoid Medicare payment penalties (See the AOA Web site Health Information Technology page e-Prescribing Section www.aoa.org/HIT.xml).
  8. Discuss EHRs with your staff. Consider appointing a practice technology officer who will oversee implementation and serve as the administrator of record for online functions associated with EHR utilization. Consider how staff will be trained in EHR use and assist in implementation.
  9. Budget intelligently for EHR use considering the potential benefits – and limitations – of incentive and bonus programs. Include possible purchase of digital clinical instrumentation that may complement EHR practice.
  10. Plan now to attend the AOA’s Enhancing Patient Care through Implementation of EHRs continuing education course. Monitor AOA media and the AOA Web site EHR page for further advisories on EHR implementation.