June 14 2011
On being first: A physician's perspective on achieving Meaningful Use
The morning of Thursday, May, 19 – just 30 days after attestation began, Juan Salazar, M.D., of McAllen, Texas, became the first physician in the nation to announce receipt of Meaningful Use dollars in full incentive payment of $18,000.
When my team implemented Cerner's Ambulatory EHR 16 months ago we were changing culture from writing paper charts to an EHR. As a physician, I had the same fears as many of my peers have, but as a staff, we did it whole heartedly and adopted the solution with the urging of our affiliated hospital, Doctors Hospital of Renaissance, which implemented Cerner Corporation's solutions.
My staff and I successfully attested to Meaningful Use on April 18, 2011 – the first day of attestation, and waited patiently for the Meaningful Use incentive dollars to arrive within the 4-6 week estimated period.
On May 19, just thirty days after the attestation process opened to physicians, I found myself with a stimulus check in hand, as the first physician not only in Texas, but also in the nation to receive a Medicare EHR Meaningful Use check. I had been using an EHR for less than two years and I successfully attested and received one of the very first Meaningful Use checks. If I can do it, anyone can.
My EHR has made me and my office staff more efficient and the quality of care we deliver to our patients is greater, and I feel strongly that the Meaningful Use requirements set forth by CMS enhance our use of the electronic records. In my opinion, the Meaningful Use requirements are things that all physicians should be doing to enhance the quality of care delivered to their patients.
In achieving Meaningful Use, we've taken a step to improve the quality of our care and our patients' lives. We've increased our documentation, improved our clinical notes and we now provide our patients with a better summary of their visit to our office. Everything combined, we're practicing better medicine. That's why most of us get into medicine as physicians – to practice good medicine. With the assistance of Cerner's EHR and the Meaningful Use requirements, our patients in McAllen ,Texas, are reaping the benefits of enhanced care.
Dr. Juan Salazar is the president of Juan J. Salazar M.D., in McAllen, Texas.