10 MIPS Questions to Ask your EHR Vendor

In August 2017, Medical Economics ran an article, 10 Questions to Ask your EHR Vendor to Prepare for MIPs.

What are Sevocity’s Answers?  

In the article, Tina Colangelo, a MACRA readiness expert who recommends asking your potential EHR vendor 10 questions so physicians are fully prepared for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Are you doing what you’re supposed to do for my practice?

Embrace the EHR as you embrace MACRA, and use it as a learning tool instead of dreading every time using it. Hold the vendor accountable, because the practice probably invested thousands of dollars. The vendor also probably charges to upgrade, so ask about anything regarded to MACRA that requires an additional fee.

Sevocity:  Sevocity does not charge to upgrade.  Sevocity includes a commitment in our contract to ongoing certification and if we ever did not achieve certification when required for our customers to achieve maximum reimbursement from MIPS we would have to provide Sevocity free of charge until we met the required certification.  

Sevocity also provides free live ongoing training, including monthly classes on MIPS topics of interest.

Did you conduct a security risk analysis in 2017?

Every vendor should do that, says Colangelo. Practices are charged with protecting patients’ information under HIPAA. The information is in the hands of the EHR system, and ultimately, the vendor. If a security risk analysis isn’t done, practices will lose either 25% of its overall MIPS points or all points in the advancing care information (ACI) category.

Sevocity:  We have comprehensive HIPAA policies and procedures, which include conducting a HIPAA Risk Analysis each year.  The analysis is conducted under the direction of our HIPAA Security Officer annually.  Results are reviewed and shared with our Privacy and Security Committee as well as our CEO.  

What MIPS measures can you report to CMS?

Make sure the measures the practice wants to report can be handled by the EHR vendor. That could be a problem if, a gastroenterologist, for example, purchased a system that only submits primary care measures.

Sevocity:  We currently support 25 Quality Measures which include a variety of measures across all specialties, allowing nearly every specialty to report at least 6 measures from the CMS recommended EHR measures for their specialty.

What functionality is available to track the measures?

Physicians want reassurance their EHR monitors those measures and that all the data around them is complete. Ask the vendor what specific tools the EHR has to track measures and monitor performance. For example, does it print a weekly report or a bi-weekly report? 

Sevocity:  The quality measures in Sevocity can be run at any time and for any time period.  The reports typically take less than 1 minute to run and the reporting tool can be minimized if the user wishes to continue to chart or use other functionality while reports are running.

How does the EHR help my practice target measures and key performance indicators?

First, ask whether the system offers the use of templates or dashboards. Then ask, “How does it help my practice submit MIPS measures?”

Sevocity:  There is an ACI (Advancing Care Initiative) Dashboard/report that can be checked at any time and for any time period, just like the quality measures.  In addition, our trainer will tailor your Health Maintenance items and alerts to the Quality Measures you have selected.  Sevocity also allows you to easily send reminders through the included Patient Portal to patients.  Lastly, all dashboards and reports include a “drill down” allowing you to see, and in some circumstances update, patient encounters that did not meet the requirements for the measure.

Will I pay an additional fee to have dashboards?

Practices likely don’t want an extra fee here and an extra fee there. Try negotiating these with the vendor.

Sevocity:  No – all dashboards and MIPS reports are included at no additional cost

Will I pay extra to upgrade the 2015 certification?

This year and next, practices are fine using the 2014 EHR certification with MIPS. Physicians can receive up to 10 bonus points in the ACI category if they upgrade to the recently-released 2015 certification. Ask the vendor for a discount for upgrading early; meaning now.

Sevocity:  No – upgrades are included at no additional cost and are automatic.  Training on the upgrade and new features is also included at no additional cost.

Can the system generate performance reports that reveal how well a practice performs in certain areas?

Clinicians will need continuous performance monitoring to be successful. Ask the EHR vendor to help with this.

Physicians may not always want to, but it’s important to track performance points to know how they are doing. Think about it like taxes: Don’t wait until the end of the year to assess what might be owed.

Maybe the practice has chosen blood pressure, for example, but patients eligible to meet that measure just aren’t coming in. The performance report will document that, so it won’t submit blood pressure as a metric and perhaps submit tobacco use instead. It all goes back to strategy.

Sevocity:  All quality measures can be checked at any time and for any time period.  We recommend picking the 6-8 reports you expect to have the best results and then work with our trainer to use the “drill down” to see how you’re doing and then take corrective action as needed.  Once the final 6 reports are selected you can then easily check progress weekly.

Does your EHR allow the practice to send secure messages to all patients through the patient portal?

The answer should be “yes” because patient engagement and satisfaction comprise the core of MACRA. Patients don’t want to work so hard, so give them easy access to reports, results and advice on the patient portal. Physicians will also earn extra points for improvement activities.

Sevocity:  Yes – Sevocity includes our Patient Portal at no additional charge.  At the end of each encounter, the provider is prompted to send an update to the patient via the portal.  In addition, the portal can be used for patients to update and submit their History and also to easily send reminders to all patients due for a Quality Measure item such as Influenza vaccination.

Can I count on you to be my backbone?

This is the most comprehensive change to affect healthcare in 50 years. Practices and their vendor need each other, to ensure they will be there to support the efforts every step of the way.

Sevocity:  Absolutely – We agree that MIPS is a big deal. You need an EHR that INCLUDES all MIPS dashboards, reporting and features at no additional cost. Your EHR should also allow you to submit your quality reports without using a registry at without incurring additional cost. Lastly, your EHR should provide free training and a responsive support team to ensure you can quickly ask your MIPS questions and get timely answers.