How do the Final Rules on Meaningful Use & Certification Affect Legacy Systems?

You’re trying to decide on which EHR system to choose, and you have to decide what to do about your “Legacy” system – the existing practice management system you use for scheduling and billing.  How do the final rules on Meaningful Use and the criteria for Certified EHR Technology affect your decision to keep your legacy system, or replace it while adding an EHR application?

Most of the criteria for Meaningful Use and EHR Certified Technology relate to functions that the EHR application will perform, such as Medication orders, problem lists, e-prescribing and so on.  But at least three of the Certification criteria are functions usually performed in practice management applications:

  • recording patient demographics,
  • verifying insurance eligibility, and
  • submitting claims electronically.

It’s true that only recording patient demographics is part of the Stage I Core Objectives for Eligible Professionals, but all three criteria are in the final rule laying out the criteria for Certified EHR systems.   So even if you don’t have to verify insurance eligibility or submit claims electronically as part of Meaningful Use, your system – even if it is composed of stand-alone EHR and Practice Management applications – must have the capability to perform these functions, and must be certified to do so.

This means you must tread carefully if you are considering keeping your existing practice management system and adding a stand-alone EHR system to your office.  You must now exercise due diligence with respect to your existing PM system, as well as due diligence in selecting an EHR system.

Make sure your EHR consultants understand some of the nuances of the final rules on Meaningful Use and the Certification Criteria.

When you need proven expertise and performance

Jim Hook, MPH

Mr. James D. Hook has over 30 years of healthcare executive management and consulting experience in medical groups, hospitals, IPA’s, MSO’s, and other healthcare organizations.

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2 thoughts on “How do the Final Rules on Meaningful Use & Certification Affect Legacy Systems?

  1. Hi,
    Really insightful. However, I’m still a little confused between EMR and EHR. I’ve come across a lot of litrature which explains the difference, but I seek more clarity. If I’m not mistaken the rules for meaningful use have been finalised a couple of weeks back. What do you think about the time that It would take for the total implementation? I represent the business development team of a medical transcription company operating out of Australia, US, Canada and UK.

  2. Hi Shiriram. We estimate it takes 4 -12 months for a practice to select and implement an EHR system. The low end is for a small practice that moves expeditiously from evaluation and selection through implementation with an experienced vendor. The high end is for a larger practice that moves systematically, but takes more time due to more personnel to be trained, multiple locations, etc.

    Some people refer to EMRs as the electronic medical record owned and maintained by a single provider – physician, hospital, etc. An EHR may include clinical and demographic information from several providers, information furnished or added by the patient, and be amalgamated from several sources. The two terms are becoming increasingly interchangeable, especially since most electronic records systems are adopting the label EHR, even though they actually resemble the definition of EMR.