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Behavioral health network tackles Meaningful Use with PHA's help

Thursday, September 24 2015

Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., in Evansville, Ind., wanted to take steps necessary to comply with federal health reform initiatives such as the meaningful use of electronic health records (Meaningful Use or MU) and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS).

The group administers a mix of programs to 7,500 patients with mental health issues in four Southern Indiana counties. It runs four group homes, a residential addiction treatment facility, and community- and home-based counseling services. In 2012, most of its ten, program-eligible physicians, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners had attested for the Adopt/Implement/Upgrade phase of the Medicaid MU incentive program. The group was e-prescribing and its five-year-old EHR was CMS-certified.  But when tasked to move to the next step ― Stage 1 MU attestation ― the group decided to sit out for 2013, even though much of the necessary workflow and data collection changes had been made. 

They hesitated to move forward with attestation because administrators weren’t confident they understood all the requirements. In June, the group engaged Purdue Healthcare Advisors, which helped them wade through the Stage 1 rules and regulations, answering questions and confirming when they were on track and when they needed correction. They were shown how to tailor their reporting to account for their child-focused psychiatrists and nurse practitioners whose patient populations couldn’t meet adult thresholds. They discovered how to document the way they manually calculated the medication reconciliation because their customized EHR didn’t allow for it. Decision support tools were integrated into their software to alert staff and provide follow-up opportunities regarding suicide-risk detection and medication side effects in pregnant women. They even implemented a patient portal.

“It wasn't that we couldn't handle making changes necessary to meet the required measures, but the uncertainty of knowing exactly what was required really had us stymied,”said Rick Paul, Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare’s director of clinical practice. “I don't know whether we would have been able to attest to Stage 1 MU without Purdue’s help.  But where others’ online white papers and webinars just confused us more, PHA’s authoritative answers gave us the confidence we needed to move forward.”

In early 2015, all providers successfully attested to Stage 1 for 2014. In addition, associated workflow Improvements had a positive, trickle-down effect to the group’s 40 licensed clinical social workers and other staff not eligible for the incentive program.In addition to MU assistance, PHA also has put PQRS requirements on their radar, helping the group understand the payment adjustments that theywould be facing by not reporting. PHA helped link them to the PQRS registry so that they could report measures in 2014, and also is preparing them to report under the group option for 2015.

Writer: Jeanine Parsch, 765-337-7047,

Tags: Quality Services

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