Agitation Over Attestation

May 13, 2011
Melissa Young, MD

I have had sleepless nights, palpitations, and tantrums over the last couple of weeks just trying to get myself and my practice ready to for meaningful use attestation.

With potentially thousands of dollars on the line, I have had sleepless nights, palpitations, and tantrums over the last couple of weeks just trying to get myself and my practice ready to for meaningful use attestation.

It all started, as I posted previously, with the upgrade in our EHR. This was followed by a CMS sponsored webinar on the attestation process. It was like I was listening to something in another language. I think I left nominators and denominators back in fourth grade, and I’m pretty sure back then we were talking about slices of pizza, not patient populations. So between those and exemptions and core measures and clinical decision support rules and health summaries (which apparently are not the same as clinical summaries), my head was swimming. And apparently I wasn’t alone. The lecture took about 40 to 45 minutes; I gave up on the Q&A after another 45 minutes.

I said to myself, “it’ll be okay. Once we have our EHR training, it’ll all make sense.” After all, it should just be a few clicks of a mouse, right? I mean, for the most part, we are already doing all the wonderful stuff CMS wants us to do. We just need to be able to report that we do it. Right? RIGHT?

I was told that training would take an hour, and that part of it would it would be for the front office staff and part of it would be for the clinical people. Now, as it turns out, on the day of the training (which by the way, I misunderstood to be live and in-person, instead of over the phone), the trainer wanted everybody present from the start. Note also, since I figured it would take an hour, I set us up in front of the main front office desk. Well, let me say, things did not go as planned.

I once again felt like it was all foreign to me. I need new terms explained to me. And while I am sure that the terms were not new to our trainer, they were to me. And I quickly realized that all this was going to involve more than just learning a few new mouse clicks. And as I tried to comprehend all it would entail, I had dozens of questions. Some were answered directly. For some, I got a very convoluted answer.My frustration grew, as we went past the designated one-hour mark, and patients started to arrive. My staff couldn’t even work around me because I was using the main computer. So we were little over halfway through and decided to call it a day, and start up again the next day.

Day two was no better. After more than an hour, and growing agitation, we finished what we could. I felt lost and confused. I was angry and worried. So after I went home, I sepnt another two hours, exploring our EHR and comparing notes with the CMS website. I figured out a lot on my own and found where there are bugs and where, with (yes!) a few simple clicks of a mouse, we can actually show compliance.

In a way, this annoyed me more, because I felt that since I paid for training, this is the kind of stuff that I should have been shown.

I talked to my main VAR contact the next day, and we went over my issues, my questions, and even my complaints. I must say, he was very patient and accommodating, and helped me figure out a few more things. (I know you’re reading this, too!). There are still a lot of things we need to work on before we will be ready for attestation.

I’m sure there will be more to post in these upcoming months. And I’ll continue to have sleepless nights, palpitations, and tantrums.

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