By Gregory J. Esper, MD
The Practice Management and Technology (PM&T) subcommittee:
PM&T was formed as one of three subcommittees of the Medical Economics and Management Committee (MEM) in 2005. PM&T has taken a broad approach to helping Academy members keep up-to-date with new government and private sector developments in practice management and technology.
PM&T aims to help Academy members with their practice management needs. We work closely with the other MEM subcommittees and with the Business and Research Administrators in Neurology Society (BRAINS) to understand the dynamic nature of health care reimbursement, office implementation of electronic health records (EHRs), and the changing environment of health information technology. PM&T assists Academy members in managing their revenue cycle and the operational efficiency of their practices through education at the Annual Meetings and Regional Conferences, resources posted on the Practice area of AAN.com and published in AANnews®, and question-and-answer sessions with PM&T members and staff.
PM&T promotes adoption of EHRs in order to increase productivity and reimbursement and improve medical care and safety. While many neurologists are using electronic tools electively today, it is likely that their adoption will be mandatory in the near future. The US government intends to ensure that electronic health records are used in every medical office, and pay for performance initiatives will make it essential for physicians to comply. PM&T assists neurologists in preparing for these changes and in making the best selections for their practices by helping them to become familiar with a variety of EHR software applications.
The AAN EHR Work Group (now incorporated into PM&T) evaluates vendors that meet minimum standards of functionality and has identified several that are best tailored for neurologists. We developed a comprehensive set of tools to assist Academy members with EHR selection and implementation. EHR vendor "chart challenges" held during the 2006, 2007, and 2008 AAN Annual Meetings were designed to determine the best (and worst) attributes of then-currently marketed EHR systems. Based on the data collected during these events, we published Electronic Health Vendor Reports, all of which are available for downloading on AAN.com. (Read more about the Academy's EHR resources.)
PM&T surveyed EHR use by US neurologists in 2008. Academic neurologists use EHRs more than private practice neurologists. Among those in private practice, small groups (fewer than five neurologists) and solo practitioners use them the least.
In view of the great expense and potential pitfalls of implementing an entirely new EHR system, especially by small practices, we will present an incremental approach to adopting electronic health information technology at the 2009 AAN Annual Meeting. PM&T is sponsoring Digital Demos: Technology Solutions That You Can Afford, which will be held during the Guidelines, Practice, and Advocacy Open House from 3:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. on Monday April 27, 2009. Neurologists will learn about electronic office solutions that are less feature-rich but much less costly and disruptive to workflow than complete EHR systems. Each solution promotes improved practice efficiency and increased quality and safety of patient care while reducing expenses.
PM&T is learning how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), insurance companies, and other third-party payers are benchmarking neurologists. Specific benchmarks include overall practice financial indicators, physician coding, billing charges and payments, denials and follow-up, and staff productivity. We are exploring ways to work with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) to better define these benchmarks.
If you are interested in health information technology and practice management, PM&T wants to speak with you about getting involved. Current PM&T members are happy to mentor new individuals who are interested in assisting with the group's activities. For information on how to become a part of this vital group within the Academy, contact Amanda Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Within the past 24 months, Dr. Esper received personal compensation for work as a consultant for HealthCore, a division of Wellpoint Health Networks, Incorporated. He also reviewed charts in a blinded fashion for an ischemic stroke/COX-2 inhibitor study.