At the end of the first quarter of 2011, none of the physicians at Downers Grove, Ill.-based DuPage Medical Group had fulfilled electronic health records meaningful use requirements. By the fourth quarter of that year, virtually the entire group had.

This rapid transformation was the subject of a presentation during Health Data Management's Healthcare Analytics Symposium by Krishna Ramachandran, CIO. The multi-specialty group practice now spans 350 physicians, 2,500 employees and nearly 50 sites. The group runs an Epic EHR, which handles scheduling, billing and clinical functions.

Ramachandran acknowledged that the meaningful use incentive program is seen by many physicians as a burden.  “It is very much ‘click the damn button,’” he said, referencing the requirements that physicians document multiple components of patient encounters to qualify. To spur adoption, the practice deployed what the CIO described as “a simple and transparent dashboard.” The dashboard offers un-blinded data, giving one line per physician for compliance progress and also gives a roll-up of the entire group with periodic progress denoted.

The practice created a 19-page handbook for meaningful use. One page is devoted to each measure with a graphic of the EHR showing where to document. The CIO also went to all the practice’s sites, logging over 1,000 miles to explain the effort in person.

The practice is well into its patient-centered medical home model, which puts primary care physicians in a leading role as care coordinator. The effort began two years ago, targeting four disease states, including diabetes. The group is now certified by the NCQA as a medical home. The group embedded pathways into its EHR for patients with one or more of the conditions that suggests best practices. And another dashboard tracks compliance. Unlike the meaningful use program, the medical home measures and program were largely defined by the members of the practice. “Physicians liked the fact they could determine the dashboards as opposed to the government telling them what to do,” Ramachandran said.

The group is using software vendor Humedica to compare its data to national measures. “We have opportunities to do right by the health care dollar,” the CIO said.

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