ONC3-bestPTWill meaningful use requirements affect Shannon’s patients?

“I just don’t see why we have to make a bunch more changes,” Tana grumbled. “You said yourself that PTs aren’t required to adopt Electronic Health Records at all.”

Shannon darted a glance around the office, making sure there weren’t any patients within earshot. It sometimes seemed to her that there was a lot of bickering in the office, and she worried about the impression it made.

Theresa, the office manager, didn’t seem to be concerned about the possibility of being overheard. She was peering into the innards of the printer, preparing to wrestle with the ink cartridges, and she called across the office, “There aren’t any incentives for us, either!”

Tana looked suspicious. “What does she mean by incentives?

Shannon willed herself to stay calm and pleasant. “Doctors’ offices get some financial help from the government — some money to help with the transition.”

Tana’s eyes flashed. “And we don’t? Isn’t that always the way!”

“They’re also required to demonstrate meaningful use, and we’re not. But we do have a system in place –“

“I know! And we’ve just learned how to use that, and now we’re expected to learn something new!”

Theresa stepped away from the printer, shaking out her wrists. “Change is always a little stressful, but I think the system we have in place is a good one. We’ll be able to manage.”

“You’re probably right,” Shannon agreed. “But we have to pay attention to the people who refer patients to us. They all want us to use compatible systems. We may not be able to do that for everyone, but we should try.”

“This is very frustrating,” Tana fumed. “I have work to do–“

“We all have work to do,” Theresa observed pointedly.

“How can I pay attention to my patients when I’m having to spend all my time fussing with paperwork?”

“Tana,” Shannon said, “nobody has asked you to fuss with any paperwork. I appreciate your learning the new systems and I think we can all agree that it has made a difference to the office. Now, we have to deal with something new.”

The other two women both started to speak at once, but Shannon put up her hands. “I’m not going to rush into any decision. Being pressured into quick decisions can lead to bad decisions. I’m going to do some research and make sure that we make the best choice.”

Shannon turned to Theresa. “The most cost-effective choice,” she said, and turned to meet Tana’s eyes, “and the most efficient one for our team.”

I know a good exit line when I hear one, Shannon thought, and she marched into her own office and shut the door.

She took a seat and massaged her temples. Shannon knew she was right in thinking about how the meaningful use deadline would affect her relationships with the doctors who referred patients to her, but Tana was also right when she said that putting too much time into documentation could take time and attention away from patients. And wasn’t that really why they got those referrals — because they were great with their patients?

Will meaningful use requirements affect Shannon’s patients?

Disclaimer: For HIPAA compliance, all characters appearing in this post are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental.

6 replies
  1. Andrew Kropff
    Andrew Kropff says:

    Meaningful Use will absolutely affect Shannon and all PTs for that matter. While it isn’t a regulation that is directed at physical therapists, they will certainly feel the ramifications from their referring physicians.

  2. Charles Pritchard
    Charles Pritchard says:

    Yes, Shannon’s patients will be affected by meaningful use through their referring physicians. While PTs are not required now to participate, does this mean they will never have to worry about it? Shannon needs to be prepared.

  3. Yuval Lirov
    Yuval Lirov says:

    Why is this problem difficult to solve?
    1. Changing systems is hard and requires a tremendous effort on the part of the staff and owner (cost).
    2. Pressure for making a decision quickly often leads to poor choices or no choice at all.

  4. David
    David says:

    For Shannon, it’s less a matter of doing this because she has to, but rather that she’s be much better off in the long run if she aligns herself with her referring physicians. Plus, it’s entirely possible that PTs may get looped into things down the line, and suddenly fall under the requirements. So, why wait?

  5. Amy
    Amy says:

    Preparedness is the key to success. In order to be prepared, you need to gather all the facts and put together a SMART plan to execute. With a deadline rapidly approaching, this process needs to be well thought out but also simple to implement in a short amount of time. Having all your staff on the same page with the plan will make the changes much easier.

  6. Heather Miller
    Heather Miller says:

    Preparation and teamwork are going to be key here. Having just one person tackle everything is not going to work. It will take everyone in the office working together to be ready for the upcoming changes. If your software has a Coach I highly recommend working with them as an added resource.

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