According to recent quality reports of 220 Accountable Care Organizations participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), Coastal Carolina Quality Care ranked third overall and second in care coordination. This ACO and its associated physician practice, Coastal Carolina Health Care (CCHC), use Allscripts TouchWorks® EHR and FollowMyHealth®.

We recently interviewed CCHC Chief Executive Officer Stephen Nuckolls and Associate Administrator Carrie Hagan about their success with MSSP and the Meaningful Use incentive program. For 2014 four providers attested for Stage 1, and 38 providers attested for Stage 2.

What’s the secret to their success? Nuckolls and Hagan share these six tips for achieving Meaningful Use Stage 2:

1. Allow plenty of time

Carrie Hagan: “We started the implementation process back in November of 2013, working towards attesting in the second quarter of 2014…We wanted that intense focus for a longer period of time, because we wanted to give the providers and staff the opportunity to implement new workflows and target interventions appropriately. That would give providers more time to complete it.”

2. Remember that several measures build on Stage 1

Carrie Hagan: “Some of the measures are carryovers from Stage 1, and they are easier because it did not involve new workflows and the staff were very comfortable with the measures. Things like reporting patient demographics, vital signs, order and results.”

3. Anticipate spending more time on Stage 2 measures that require patient response

Carrie Hagan: “The three toughest measures for us were the ones that required patient response: two patient engagement measures – the portal and secure messaging – I really encourage people to take advantage of the auto-invite feature that’s now available on the portal.”

Stephen Nuckolls: “To get patient engagement, personalize messages as much as possible…the more personal you can make those requests, the better.”

4. Focus on a few measures at a time

Stephen Nuckolls:  “It’s hard to get the team’s attention on all quality measures at the same time. So we promote a few at a time, meet with nursing staff, and really focus on the things we can do to move the needle.”

5. When the going gets tough, don’t give up

Stephen Nuckolls:  “About seven or eight weeks into it, several physicians didn’t think they would meet the measures. But we found the right strategies, and they succeeded. So, even if you’re two months into a three-month cycle, don’t give up.”

6. Work closely with your electronic health record (EHR) vendor

Stephen Nuckolls:  “EHRs are very complex. This attestation process is very complex. It takes a team working closely together to make sure everything is working the way it should…Allscripts helped us work through all of that.”

To learn more about Coastal Carolina Health Care’s success, you can download a free case study.

Editor’s Note: On December 16, 2014, Greg White published a follow-up blog post, 5 more tips for achieving Meaningful Use Stage 2, featuring advice from Physicians’ Alliance, Ltd.

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About the author

Greg White is Senior Vice President and General Manager for the TouchWorks® business unit at Allscripts. His organization supports the sales, services, implementation and general operations of this business unit. Greg joined Allscripts from Cerner where he most recently served as Vice President, Managing Director of Cerner’s Middle East and Africa business since 2010. Prior to his international assignment, Greg was Vice President, General Manager responsible for Cerner’s East Region client base. He was also Cerner’s Vice President, Laboratory Outreach Development, a role in which he integrated software operations from Gajema Software, a Charlotte, NC, firm where he served as President and CEO prior to Cerner’s acquisition of Gajema in 2004. Greg began his career as co-founder and President of ExecuTrain of Florida, a software training company recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s top 500 fastest-growing private firms. He sold the business in 2000. Greg holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Alabama and attended the Executive Program for Growing Companies at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.


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