Several questions are imperative to consider in terms of recent news related to the long-awaited final use for meaningful use modifications and Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements: How meaningful is meaningful use when it comes to revenue cycle management? Do meaningful users provide higher quality care? How is care quality affecting the bottom line?
Regarding recent meaningful use news, many across the healthcare industry are advantageously declaring a financially stable outcome. Those healthcare providers who effectively demonstrated meaningful use of their electronic health records (EHRs) last year were reportedly seeing major cash flow – to the sizable financial tune of nearly $18 billion – according to EHRIntelligence.com.
This incentive program’s overarching objective is to implement innovative technology measures that will resultantly advance overall patient care and improve care delivery.
Those healthcare providers struggling to keep up financially within the past several years perhaps initially perceived EHRs as something well beyond the safe limitations of what their budget, already stretched to the gills, could feasibly handle.
After millions of dollars were spent by hospitals to fulfill meaningful use mandates, delivered incentives ended up being quite disappointingly less than promised. Many healthcare providers resultantly went back to the budgeting drawing board to readjust their revenue cycle management priorities and reassess what needed to get done.
Earlier this year, over 257,000 eligible healthcare providers were hit with meaningful use penalties. Those healthcare providers failing to meet program criteria saw a 1 percent reduction in their Medicare payments. Additionally, 28,000 eligible professionals failing to comply with both Medicare meaningful use and electronic prescribing incentive programs saw an even larger 2 percent drop.
Leading healthcare organizations earlier this year claimed the Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs were working quite well to positively influence patient care. According to estimates from earlier this year, 31 percent of eligible professionals – nearly 78,000 in total – saw adjustments that topped a total of $2,000.
Resounding trepidation of EHR implementation directly driving a smaller healthcare practice or rural hospital further into the ground instead of offering a perhaps much needed ample financial boost was indeed real. Financial limitations and the like meant not all healthcare providers were initially willing to jump onto the meaningful use bandwagon in the first place.
Those healthcare providers eligible for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program nonetheless established their upcoming meaningful use status criteria to successfully steer clear of future payment adjustments.
Is meaningful use slowly bruising revenue cycle?
When technological concerns impede revenue cycle management, the overall quality of patient-centered, value-based care may in turn deteriorate. Meaningful users do not consistently provide higher levels of care, confirmed 2014 JAMA Internal Medicine findings.
Maintaining a strong connection between value-based incentives and physician reimbursement is essential. Physicians generally collect $18,500 from quality incentives which amounts to about 66 percent of their total cash compensation.
Value-based payment programs, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and pay-for-performance measures, may actively strengthen cash flow, as connecting reimbursement to quality care reportedly brings money in. Forty-two percent of hospitals say a minimum of 10 percent of their revenue is associated with value-based contracts.
When it comes to the long-term advancement of value-based care, new and developing security concerns are perhaps leading to a tangible slowdown in widespread technological adaption. EHR implementation now exists within the ICD-10 implementation realm where claims management and reimbursement challenges following October 1 tangibly loom.
EHRs are intended to streamline administrative and clinical tasks related to billing endeavors. It is hopeful EHRs and future meaningful use endeavors will only continue to modernize and simplify revenue cycle matters in the years to come.
This article originally appeared here.