Wednesday, October 20, 2010

MMA Help for Specialists

The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) Foundation received a $150,000 grant from the Physicians Foundation to develop a toolkit to help specialty care providers implement health information technology. The Foundation helps physicians navigate the challenges of new and expensive technology, changes in reimbursements, and information overload.

The MMA Foundation working on the toolkit expects it to be released in two parts. The Foundation expects to have the first material available April 2011 and the second section will be released July 2011.

Although there are many resources available to general care practices looking to adopt HIT, there is a distinct lack of resources that focus on implementing HIT in specialty care practices. The Foundation will be tailoring the “Stratis Health’s Health Information Technology Toolkit for Physician Offices” to be used by specialty care providers.

The HIT toolkit will have three distinct sections for various types of specialty providers. For example, there will be a section tailored to surgical specialties like general surgery and cardiovascular surgery. There will also be a section customized for diagnostic specialties like radiology and pathology with a segment in the toolkit to be devoted to medical specialties such as neurology or gastroenterology.

The toolkit will focus on the specific needs of the specialty office such as limited resources, differences in hardware and software needs, differences in work flow, and greater clinical exam and documentation needs.

Studies of EHR adoption have shown that smaller and specialty care practices are often slower to adopt and implement EHRs because not only do they have fewer resources but they also have insufficient technical support. Also the process for selecting and implementing an EHR is often much more complex for these practices due to specialized technical and clinical requirements.

The MMA Foundation will be compiling input from Minnesota’s health IT leaders, stakeholders, and physicians in their effort to create this web-based tool. They will complement rather than duplicate the efforts of the Minnesota and North Dakota Alliance Regional Extension Assistance Center for Health Information Technology (REACH) program.

The Foundation will also be subcontracting with MedLinX Consulting, LLC, a St. Paul-based management consulting firm to help small and specialty practice care providers understand and navigate the HIT marketplace and then help them develop strategies to implement electronic health records.