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REC Helps Las Vegas Physician Office Achieve Meaningful Use, Provide Better Patient Care

Paige Fieldsted, Sr. Communications Specialist, HealthInsight Utah

When Dr. Jorge Burgos opened his own primary care practice in North Las Vegas in 2008 he knew he needed to start with electronic health records in order to be able to attest for meaningful use in the future. But as Natalia Burgos, office manager for the practice, will tell you the transition from paper records to a fully functional EHR wasn't easy.

"We were surprised how difficult it was to make it work and for Dr. Burgos to adapt to using the EHR vs. paper," Natalia said. "With paper even though you have to do many forms, it is easier in many ways. For him it was a shock finding out that doing the notes electronically and learning the right way to input the information took a lot of time."

Natalia said it took nearly eight months before their EHR was fully functional and running at 100 percent. She said at that point they started thinking about meaningful use.

"It was so abstract and I thought, this is too complicated, let's postpone it for later,'" She said. "We put it on the side for a little while until we realized it was something we needed to get done."

Natalia said she had received postcards from HealthInsight, the REC for Nevada and Utah, and contacted them to get help and support. Catelyn Nguyen, from HealthInsight Nevada, met with the staff at Dr. Burgos's office and helped them understand the meaningful use requirements and how to make their EHR work for them.

Natalia said achieving meaningful use required several changes in the process used by staff, from the front desk all the way to Dr. Burgos. The staff had to change the intake form for new patients to include race, ethnicity and language spoken and had to work with their EHR to get that information added to the system. Natalia also said they had to learn more about their EHR and where to input information so it would show up on meaningful use reports. They had to pay more attention to medication reconciliation and change the way they ordered prescriptions and lab work. The change didn't happen overnight.

"It takes times, it takes persistence and more than anything it takes the determination of the provider, the provider has to agree with it. He or she has to want it," Natalia said. "Once the provider is on board and he translates that to the staff then they understand it needs to be done, they are willing and open to do whatever it takes and to adjust the way they work to achieve meaningful use."

Dr. Burgos's practice has achieved Stage 1 meaningful use and is working diligently to reach Stage 2. Natalia said the role of Nguyen and HealthInsight played a big role in their practice being successful.

"If I attempted to do this by myself, I don't know if I could," She said. "I needed someone to explain to me what all the measures were. I thought I understood what they were asking for but when Catelyn explained it to me I realized I did not understand properly some of the requirements. Catelyn was instrumental, the role of HealthInsight in use reaching meaningful use was essential."

Natalia said that in addition to reaching meaningful use and receive the incentive payments that go along with it, she feels the practice is providing better patient care because of the new workflow process.

"We capture more information, we have a more complete record of the patient and having more information means better care because the provider and the staff know the patients better," She said. "They get more involved, they know better what the patient needs. Even the coordination of care is better; we have more information to send to the specialist."