By Ronald L. Moy, MD, AADA President, July 01, 2011
We all know that the future of our records and our prescriptions is electronic — but with Medicare penalties for non-adoption of e-prescribing starting in 2012 and for non-adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) starting in 2015, many dermatologists see the electronic future with more urgency than they may have a few years ago.
The Academy is here to help. Dermatologists who want to start e-prescribing in time to earn a 1 percent bonus in 2011 and 2012 can learn more about meeting Medicare’s requirements on the Academy’s website at www.aad.org/hitkit; the website also includes detailed information on exemptions dermatologists can use to avoid penalties in 2012 and 2013 if they are unable to e-prescribe this year. Dermatologists who want to e-prescribe but need help getting started can take advantage of our partnership with GetRxConnected by visiting www.getrxconnected.org/AAD/site.aspx. The site can help you determine your readiness for e-prescribing, and it can generate a customized list of potential e-prescribing solutions for you based on your answers to a brief set of questions.
We’re working on a similar partnership to help dermatologists choose the EHR system that will best meet their needs and allow them to earn the meaningful use incentives offered by Medicare or Medicaid, and we currently offer information on doing so through the online HIT Kit at www.aad.org/hitkit. In addition, an article in last month’s Dermatology World offered readers a guide to what they should look for in a system and the process they should follow to choose. (See p. 34 of the June issue.) And a variety of sessions at our Annual and Summer meetings are dedicated to helping dermatologists make the right EHR choice, including the EHR Physician Demonstration that will take place at Summer Academy Meeting 2011 on Thursday, Aug. 4 starting at 9 a.m. The session lets members see how fellow dermatologists have successfully implemented EHR systems in their practices and learn from their experiences as they consider their own implementation plans. You can also contact the Academy’s practice management manager, Rachna Chaudhari, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 240-1826 for help navigating your EHR decision.[pagebreak]
Of course, going electronic is a significant investment regardless of the incentive payments that may be available. To make that investment, dermatologists need a better sense of the future of Medicare reimbursement. Fortunately, our Council on Government Affairs, Health Policy and Practice and our staff in Washington are actively engaged in the discussions surrounding this topic. As you may have read last month in Dermatology World, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at a recent hearing that fixing the Sustainable Growth Rate formula is “on the short list of things getting done this summer.” Rep. Upton also asked more than 50 medical societies, including the American Academy of Dermatology Association, to submit their ideas for payment reform. The AADA responded to his request, acknowledging the complexity of the issue and expressing its concerns. We said that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and suggested that any potential reform proposals would need to be heavily tested and evaluated to determine how they would affect physicians’ ability to treat patients, retain employees, and maintain the viability of their practices. (You can find our full letter at www.aad.org/member-tools-and-benefits/aada-advocacy/federal-legislative-affairs/medicare-payment-reform.) We will continue to work with members of Congress to find a solution.
We have been making a number changes to improve communication within the AAD and to the public. The AAD.org website and Dermatology World have already changed; soon you will see a new AAD e-newsletter for members that updates everyone on legislative, advocacy, and regulatory issues. We have focused on improving Board of Directors communication and have encouraged more analytical and strategic discussions to take place. We will encourage the staff and Board to further evaluate existing programs to prioritize our resources to meet the most pressing needs of members and the specialty. In our changing environment we may need to have a greater emphasis on public awareness programs and legislative advocacy programs. We also need to anticipate that there may be less revenue in the future, such as from industry support; some programs may need to be scaled back and others increased following our new strategic framework and the wisdom of our Board of Directors.
Although there are always challenges in a time of change, the AAD is well-positioned to turn challenges into opportunities. The AAD leadership and I look forward to facing the challenges ahead of us and keeping you informed of important changes.