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Early Attestation in a Solo Physician Practice

May 3, 2011
by Mark Hagland
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How the Childs Medical Clinic in tiny Samson, Alabama achieved first-week attestation

Editor's Note: Following the publication of this article, Childs Medical Clinic announced on May 19 it had received its payments of meaningful use incentive funds within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Stage 1 meaningful use Medicare incentives program.

Childs Medical Clinic received $18,000 for its attesting eligible professional (EP) Hayden Childs, M.D., having satisfied the 90-continuous days of meaningful use reporting merged with allowable tracking to achieve the incentives thresholds.

When Jule Childs, office manager in the Childs Medical Clinic in tiny (population 2,071) Samson, Alabama, says that her organization is a family affair, she really means it. The one physician in this medical practice, Hayden Childs, M.D., is her husband, while the practice’s one nurse practitioner is her sister-in-law. Later this year, the number of doctors in the practice will double, when a new physician will join the practice part-time: Jule Child’s niece’s husband. What’s more, Hayden Childs is the only doctor in this small town, whose sole facility affiliation is with Wiregrass Medical Center, a 67-bed hospital in nearby Geneva, and the only hospital in the near vicinity. (The Childs Medical Clinic has been operating since 2004.)

Yet despite the fact of the small scale and the relative isolation of the Childs Medical Clinic (Samson is located in far southeast Alabama, just a few miles north of the Florida panhandle), Jule Child and her eight colleagues in the clinic were determined early on to pursue meaningful use under the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act/Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (ARRA-HITECH) Act. And they’ve succeeded with regard to stage 1 of meaningful use, successfully completing attestation on April 19, the second day possible. In part, Childs says, her clinic’s success in attestation for stage 1 emerged out of the beta site status of Childs Medical Clinic for the latest version of the core electronic health record (EHR) solution from the Carrollton, Ga.-based Greenway Medical Technologies. Jule Childs spoke this week with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding her organization’s path forward on meaningful use and MU attestation. Below are excerpts from that interview.

How did you and Dr. Childs decide to go for meaningful use?
We bought the Greenway system before we ever opened this practice. And we have stayed on the cutting edge of the electronic health record since then; everything that comes out, I try for. We’re in a small town with a very poor population in a very poor part of the state, so anything I can do to be more efficient, I will do.

What made you decide to push ahead and go for meaningful use at this early stage?
Well, the money was there and available to anyone who would wish to pursue it. And we had an electronic medical record, and I knew we could do this. So I volunteered to be a beta site for PrimeSUITE 2011, which came out in January in the beta sites, and has just become available to the rest of the Greenway clients this month.

So you got a lot of help from Greenway?
Yes, we did, but it’s help that’s available to all Greenway clients. We have found that Greenway is extremely responsive; that’s why we bought Greenway—we were looking for the best product and service. The new update has a meaningful use dashboard, so I could click on that every day, since it would update every night, and it would tell me exactly where I was on each criterion. Greenway offered four training sessions in January, and Dr. Childs and I went to the training held in Las Vegas in January.

What were the biggest challenges in getting to attestation last month?
For us, it’s going to be a little different than for a larger practice. For us, one of the challenges had to do with the requirement to provide patients with clinical summaries at the conclusion of their visits. We’re in a poorer area, and most of our patients didn’t want them and didn’t want to carry around the print-outs. So I had to make sure we offered each patient their summary.


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