Patient Portals and EHRs: Generating Reports

Ask Joy: This Week – Patient Electronic Access Measures

Some of the details of Meaningful Use Stage 2 are proving to be quite tricky. This week we’ll be going over how to handle reporting when a practice employs custom solutions for their patient portal. When the software that patients engage with isn’t supported by the EHR, figuring out the right figures to report for each measure can get complicated quickly. Let’s dig in a little deeper to see what’s the best course of action.

My practice uses a patient portal, not associated with our EHR. As we prepare for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, specifically the Patient Electronic Access Measures, the numerator and denominator information comes from two different systems. How would we generate an accurate report?  

There is one MU Stage 2 objective and two associated measures that address an eligible professional’s (EP) ability to engage patients to view online, download, and transmit their health information within 4 business days of the information being available.

To meet the requirement, more than 50% (that is, numerator 1) of all unique patients (denominator 1) seen during the reporting period must have electronic access to their health information. Additionally, 5% (hello numerator 2) of all unique patients (denominator 2) seen during the reporting period must actually view online, download, or transmit their health information.

In most cases, patients will view their health information through a patient portal. Access to the portal is given to the patient by the practice. But let’s say only half of the patients sign up for the portal within the reporting period; that means the other half of patient’s health information (used to calculate the measure) remains in the EHR. To accurately report the numerator and denominator, it is unlikely that the report will be generated from just one system, especially if the EHR and patient portal are not from the same vendor.

Many practices have custom solutions to achieve their measures. And while, by definition, all certified EHR technology must include the capability to electronically record the numerator and denominator and generate a report that includes both with a resulting percentage, the MU measures do not specify that this capability must be used to calculate the numerators and denominators. As long as the information comes from a certified system, CMS provides flexibility for EPs to pursue alternative approaches to measuring these figures.

So, assuming the EP has reliable numerator information from one certified system and reliable denominator information from the other, they can be combined to form the complete measure requirements.

About the Author: Joy Rios has worked directly with multiple EHRs to develop training programs for both trainers and practice staff. She has successfully attested to Meaningful Use for multiple ambulatory practices in both Medicare and Medicaid. She also authored the Certified Professional Meaningful Use course for Joy holds an MBA with a focus in sustainability. She is Health IT certified with a specialty in Workflow Redesign, holds HIPAA security certification, and is a great resource for information regarding government incentive programs.Ask Joy is a regular column on 4Medapproved HIT Answers.