A Guide to Healthcare Buzzwords and What They Mean: Part Two (M through Z)

Buzzwords in Healthcare Technology

Meaningful Use (MU)

Meaningful Use is the phrase used in the 2009 HITECH Act to describe the standard providers must achieve to receive incentive payments for purchasing and implementing an EHR system. The term meaningful use combines clinical use of the EHR (i.e. ePrescribing), health information exchange, and reporting of clinical quality measures. Achieving meaningful use also requires the use of an EHR that has been certified by a body such as CCHIT, Drummond Group, ICSA Laboratories, Inc. or InfoGuard Laboratories, Inc. The term can also apply informally to the process of achieving the standard, for example “How is our practice doing with meaningful use?”

mHealth

An abbreviation for Mobile Health, mHealth is a blanket label for transmitting health services, and indeed practicing medicine, using mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets. mHealth has large implications not only for newer devices like smartphones and high-end tablets, but also for feature phones and low-cost tablets in developing nations. Many different software and hardware applications fit under the umbrella of mHealth so the term is used conceptually to talk about future innovations and delivery systems.

NLP

An acronym for Natural Language Processing, NLP is a field of study and technology that seeks to develop software that can “understand” human speech – not just what words are being said, but what is meant by those words. By “processing” text input into an NLP program, large strings of text can be parsed into more traditionally meaningful data. For example, narrative from a doctor in a medical record could be transferred into data for research and statistical analysis. If we had every medical record and narrative in history, we could search it and look for trends – and possible new cures and symptoms. IBM’s famous Watson machine that could “listen” to Jeopardy! clues and answer is an advanced example of NLP.

ONCHIT

An acronym for “Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology,” the ONCHIT is a division of the Federal Government’s Department of Health and Human Services. The Office oversees the nation’s efforts to advance health information technology and build a secure, private, nationwide health network to exchange information. Although the National Coordinator position was created by executive order in 2004, the Office and its mission were officially mandated in the 2009 HITECH Act as a part of the stimulus package.

Patient Engagement

Patient Engagement is a broad term that describes the process of changing patient behaviors to promote wellness and a focus on preventative care. “Engagement” can roughly be read to describe the patient’s willingness to be an active participant in their own care and to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices. Patient Engagement efforts can be as simple as marketing campaigns for public heath and appointment reminders, and as advanced as wearable monitors that can transmit activity and exercise information so patients can track their fitness. Improving the health system’s ability to engage patients is considered key to lowering healthcare spending and attacking epidemics like obesity and heart disease.

Patient Portal

A patient portal is software that allows patients to interact, generally through an internet application, with their healthcare providers. Portals enable communication between providers and patients in a secure environment with no fear of inappropriate disclosure of the patient’s private healthcare information. Patients can get lab results, request appointments and review their own records without calling the provider. Patient portals can be sold as a standalone software module or as part of a comprehensive Practice Management/EHR package.

Patient-centered Care

Patient-centered care is a healthcare delivery concept that seeks to use the values and choices of the patient to drive all the care the patient receives. As elementary as it sounds, developing a culture that places the needs and concerns of the patient – the whole patient – at the center of the decision-making process is a new development in the healthcare system. Patient engagement is at the core of patient-centered care, because the patient is the central driver of the decisions – as is only right!

PCMH

An acronym for Patient Centered Medical Home, a PCMH is a model for healthcare delivery where most or all of a patient’s services for preventative, acute and chronic primary care are delivered in a single place by a single team to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction as well as lower costs. PCMHs may also operate under a different reimbursement structure, as they can be paid on an outcome basis or on a capitation model as opposed to fee-for-service.

PHR

An acronym for a “Personal Health Record,” a PHR is a collection of health data that is personally maintained by the patient for access by caregivers, relatives, and other stakeholders. As opposed to the EHR model, in which a single hospital or system collects all the health information generated in the facility for storage and exchange with other providers, the PHR is maintained, actively or passively with mobile data capture or sensor devices, by the patient. The PHR can supplement or supplant other health records depending on the way it is used.

PPACA

An acronym for the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the PPACA was a federal law passed in 2010 to reform the United States healthcare system by lowering costs and improving access to heath insurance and healthcare. The PPACA uses a variety of methods – market reforms to outlaw discrimination based on gender or pre-existing condition, subsidies and tax credits for individuals, families and employers, and an individual mandate forcing the uninsured to pay penalties – to increase access to insurance and lower healthcare costs.

PQRS

An acronym for the “Patient Quality Reporting System,” PQRS is a mechanism by which Medicare providers submit clinical quality and safety information in exchange for incentive payments. Physicians who elect not to participate or are found unsuccessful during the 2013 program year, will receive a 1.5 percent Medicare payment penalty in 2015, and 2 percent Medicare payment penalty every year thereafter.

RAC

An acronym for “Recovery Audit Contractor,” a RAC is a private company that has been contracted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to identify and recover fraudulent or mistaken reimbursements to providers. There are four regions of the United States, each with its own RAC  which is authorized to recover money on behalf of the Federal Government. A pilot program between 2005 to 2007 netted nearly $700 million dollars in repayments and the program was made permanent nationwide in 2010.

REC

An acronym for “Regional Extension Center,” a REC is a organization or facility funded by a federal grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to provide assistance and resources to providers who want to adopt an EHR and achieve meaningful use but need technical or deployment support to get their system up and running. There are currently 62 RECs in the United States who focus primarily on small and individual practices, practices without sufficient resources, or critical access and public hospitals that serve those without coverage.

Registry

A Registry is a database of clinical data about medical conditions and outcomes that is organized to track a specific subset of the population. Registries are important to track the efficacy of drugs and treatment, as well as to analyze and identify possible treatment and policy opportunities to improve care. A registry can also be used to report PQRS.

Telehealth

Telehealth is a broad term that describes delivering healthcare and healthcare services through telecommunication technology. Although the terms telehealth and mhealth can be used somewhat interchangeably, “telehealth” tends to focus more on leveraging existing technologies – phone, fax and video conferencing to deliver services over a long distance, or to facilitate communication between providers. Remote evaluation and management and robotics are both examples of care innovations that would fall under the telehealth umbrella.

Value-based Purchasing

Value-based purchasing is a reimbursement model for health care providers that rewards outcomes for patients as opposed to the volume of services provided. Both through increased payments for positive outcomes, and decreased payments for negative ones, value-based purchasing seeks to lower costs by focusing on increasing quality and patient-focus. Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Homes are both examples of delivery systems that rely on value-based purchasing.




New HITECH Resource for Eligible Providers and Hospitals at the Virtual Extension Center

Note: I get great pleasure in finding resources for my readers, and today I have a showstopper! Carol Flagg is co-owner of HITECH Answers and is visiting Manage My Practice to announce a free resource for eligible providers and hospitals.

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For the past two years HITECH Answers has been a vendor neutral resource for education on details of the HITECH Act.  In that time, we’ve amassed a significant library of recorded webinars for viewing, along with a body of exclusive white papers and research.

But the time for analyzing the HITECH Act has ended.  Similar to the purpose served by the 62 Regional Extension Centers (RECs) , our goal is to support as much as we can the process of adoption of a certified EHR system that meets meaningful use criteria.  Given the sheer number of health care providers needing significant help and guidance through this process, we have transitioned our existing web-based subscription model to function as a Virtual Extension Center.

This Virtual Extension Center, or VEC, supports health care providers and hospitals looking for education and analysis throughout the HITECH life cycle in a 100% virtual environment. In a nutshell, our VEC widens the education circle and opportunity for all Eligible Professionals and Eligible Hospitals. We’ve also made membership to our VEC completely free for EPs and EHs for the entire life cycle of the HITECH Act.

So what, exactly, is the VEC? And how does it function?

First and foremost, this newly created VEC houses all of the existing recorded training material and research accumulated over the past two years.  This information is readily accessible upon members logging on to HITECH Answers.  Here’s what has been added to round out VEC membership:

  • Meaningful Use for EPs and EHs ”“ Live webinar events hosted twice a month that focus specifically on the details for achieving Stage 1 meaningful use for EPs and EHs.
  • Upcoming live web casts on tax implications for incentives for EPs and EHs, workflow, ICD-10 migration, HIPAA security assessment, the pros and cons of SaaS, EHR contract negotiation and more.
  • Live web cast for our VEC members who are vendors and HIT consultants that address pressing topics and needs in conducting business in this industry.
  • Attendance to live webcast interviews and presentations from leading national experts.
  • Access to exclusive white papers and research found only in our VEC.
  • Direct access to independent experts to help answers your specific questions.

An obvious large part of the VEC will be our live events. We debut our event offerings with these two important topics ”“ Meaningful Use for Specialists and EHR Contract Negotiations.

Meaningful Use for Specialists ”“ Qualifying for CMS EHR Incentives

January 18, 2011, 7 pm EST

Event summary: A first glance at the Stage 1 Core and Menu Set objectives makes sense for primary care, but what about specialists? How can Psychiatrists, Oncologists, Radiologists, Urologists, and other specialists meet the requirements and objectives outlined in CMS EHR Incentive Program? EPs that are specialists can still achieve the CMS incentives based on the flexibility that is incorporated into two primary areas: Menu Exclusions and Quality Measures.

EHR Contract Negotiations: Q & A with William O’Toole, O’Toole Law Group

January 25, 2011, 7 pm EST

Event summary: The HITECH Act of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is driving new technology acquisitions unlike anything seen in the healthcare information technology (HIT) sector since Y2K. Specific terms and warranties in Electronic Health Record (EHR) agreements are absolutely essential for the protection of provider customers. Competent and experienced legal advice is extremely important. Get your questions answered in this special Q & A session.

You can visit our Events Page to learn more about these sessions.

And you can learn more about qualifying for a free membership at Become A Member or you can contact me at: carol@hitechanswers.com.

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Disclosure from Mary Pat: HITECH Answers sells my book on their site, and I am a Consulting Expert to HITECH Answers.