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Looking Toward “Meaningful Use”? How Electronic Attachments Can Help

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The reduction of administrative costs through process efficiency is an important goal in the healthcare industry, so much so that the U.S. government is putting in place initiatives to incentivize administrative efficiency among healthcare providers. Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs are being implemented to provide financial incentives for providers to adopt certified EHR (electronic health record) technology intended to achieve certain healthcare efficiency goals. Medicare and Medicaid have developed “meaningful use” requirements for the EHR incentive program that will:

  • Set benchmarks for EHR implementation
  • Help providers determine the success of their EHR implementation
  • Determine the amount of incentive reimbursement providers are entitled to

As providers look toward meeting these meaningful use requirements, one technology that can help is an electronic attachment solution.

In order to meet the meaningful use requirements, providers must show that they are using EHR technologies in certain measureable ways. Requirements include using EHR to improve clinical quality through drug-drug, drug-allergy, drug-formulary checks, maintain an up-to-date problem list of current and active diagnoses based on ICD-9-CM or SNOMED CT® and through the electronic exchange of health information. Electronic attachments can improve this process by providing a simple way for supporting documentation to be submitted with the electronic submission of medical claims. The practice fits in seamlessly with other EHR initiatives such as electronic patient medical records and e-charting.

As the meaningful use stages progress over the next few years, physicians and other eligible providers may be putting new systems in place to improve EHR in their practices. So how can an electronic attachment solution assist with meeting meaningful use standards? One of these standards is for providers to submit at least 80% of claims being filed electronically to commercial and private payors. Digitized electronic health records make the electronic submission of supporting documentation process easier, quicker, and less costly. This addition can also make complying with other government regulations easier – such as HIPAA compliance in sending and obtaining medical records, or dealing with Medicare documentation requirements.

The truth is that the claim documentation typically seen in attachments can have a significant effect on the speed of health insurance reimbursement, since soliciting and preparing paper attachments can slow down claims adjudication. However, MEA’s clients who have implemented electronic attachment solutions have reported reducing their outstanding receivables by 10 to 14 days. This is a definite step in the right direction for the kind of efficiency and meaningful use that the government is trying to encourage.