Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Tashjian, a Western Wisconsin physician, who recently completed the attestation process for Meaningful Use. When Dr. Tashjian completed the online attestation process on April 18, 2011 he became one of the first physicians in the country to complete the process of attesting for Meaningful Use. Below is an account of Dr. Tashjian’s experience with the attestation process, and how his EMR, Cerner, played a part in the proceeding.
Dr. Tashjian is a member of the Western Wisconsin Medical Association (WWMA), and was the first in his group of 60 to attest. The doctor mentioned several times that the ease of the process was attributed to their level of preparedness. With the reports generated from their Cerner EMR, and assistance from a specialized outside source (WHITEC), Dr. Tashjian was more than prepared to begin the online attestation.
The doctor informed me that he had preregistered for the attestation where they received a User ID and password. No appointment is necessary to attest, once a physician has a User ID and password they are free to attest at any time. Physicians can register for their User ID and password at https://ehrincentives.cms.gov/hitech/redirection.action?transferReason=CreateLogin.
By registering ahead of time and having the Cerner reports at hand, Dr. Tashjian and his practice were well equipped on the morning of their attestation. The doctor said completing the questionnaire took him a total of 20 minutes, and reiterated how important the Cerner reports were to this timeliness. The WWMA member said the process was very meticulous, with responses requested in ratios and exact patient numbers. Although, each question required scrupulous answers Dr. Tashjian was pleased to say that it was a very smooth process, and he felt that the information requested truly promoted improved patient care, and medical practice productivity.
At the culmination of the attestation each physician is presented with a printable certificate of completion, and a prompt stating that the Meaningful Use funding will arrive in 4 to 6 weeks. Dr. Tashjian said, “We’re happy to have completed the first year of Meaningful Use attestation, and we’re already preparing for next year.” Dr. Tashjian understands that year two’s attestation will require more from his practice including meaningfully implementing a patient education program, and a patient portal. Dr. Tashjian has been a proponent of patient education from the beginning, and is looking forward to working with Cerner’s patient portal IQ-Health®.
“I love that Meaningful Use standardizes everything. I think it’s really important to emphasize that this process truly makes medical care better, and that’s the most important part of this whole thing. It just makes sense,” Dr. Tashjian.
According to Dr. Tashjian, WWMA had always planned to utilize resources available to physicians to improve patient care and office productivity, but that the stimulus fund was a great motivation for them to make the changes sooner than later. With the help of Cerner, 12 out of 60 of WWMA’s members have successfully attested, and the rest plan to attest by midsummer. Cerner was pleased to announce that the first 12 to attest from WWMA were among the first 60 physicians to attest in the nation.
Dr. Tashjian made a point to mention some of his favorite aspects of his Cerner EMR. He said, “My favorite part is the e-prescribing. I can’t remember the last time I handwrote a script. I have not received one call back from the pharmacy, it automatically checks for drug interactions, and my patients never have to worry about losing their prescriptions. Cerner has also done a great job of breaking alerts down into levels, making them very easy to understand. The Depart Button, which produces an after visit summary, is a great feature for our elderly patients who have a hard time remembering exactly what we reviewed during their visit. This is a great communication tool for us and our patients.”
After speaking with Dr. Tashjian, I’ve concluded that attesting for Meaningful Use funding should not be an intimidating process for physicians, but a motivating factor to utilize all of the resources available to them to prepare, and, in the end, enhance patient care and physician productivity.
See http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/04/25/bisf0428.htm for more information on the funding available to Dr. Tashjian, and other physicians who attest for Meaningful Use