13 Oct H1N1 Flu Vaccine Requires Pediatricians to Change EMR Software System Requirements
With initial shipments of the much anticipated H1N1 vaccine arriving in doctors’ offices last week, Connexin Software today announced it is delivering an expedited update of its Office Practicum™ pediatric EMR with features to support the special forecasting, administration, and billing requirements of the new vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has targeted children for the first wave of immunizations, causing grave concern in pediatric offices across the country about how to handle unprecedented demand for a vaccine.
“The new features were developed in conjunction with our physician Advisory Board to handle large volumes of patients while ensuring attention to detail and quality associated with the patient experience,” stated Gregory H. Anderson, Connexin CFO. “We added forecasting rules to ensure vaccines are given on the correct schedule, administrative tools to manage inventory and report to public health agencies, and billing templates to ensure correct coding of medical claims.”
“We have been swamped with parents calling and bringing in their children,” said Dr. Edna A. Pytlak of Brooklyn, NY. “On Monday we administered over 125 flu immunizations in our three-doctor office. The new features help us handle patients quickly without sacrificing medical safety or quality. We are required to report all immunizations promptly to the Department of Health, and the system sends them electronically so we don’t have to do it by hand. At these volumes, it’s a huge time-saver.”
H1N1 vaccine forecasting is complicated because doses are available in multiple forms (shots and nasal spray), and patients under the age of ten must return for a second dose 21-28 days later. In addition, attention must be paid to other vaccines given recently – including seasonal flu – that may interfere with this schedule. Otherwise the immunization may be less effective.
H1N1 billing rules are equally complicated because the American Medical Association and Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services only defined special codes for this purpose on September 28. By that time, many insurance payers had already announced their own rules. Doctors must follow correct guidelines for each payer in order to get paid for adminstering the vaccine. (The vaccine is given to doctors free of charge by the Federal government and cannot be resold.)
“It was quite a whirlwind around here for the past two weeks,” said Anderson, “but it was worth it. Pediatrics First™ is more than a mission statement to us; it’s a way of life. We knew our clients would be inundated early, and we wanted to be sure they were prepared. We’re proud to be doing our part to help doctors respond to this public health crisis.”