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Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of the HIStalk Practice Winners Circle, an interview series featuring physician practice professionals that have been recognized for their health IT-related expertise.
Baqar Naqvi is the practice manager for Progressive Medical Care in Montgomery Village, MD. EHR vendor MTBC named him Office Manager of the Year for 2016.
Tell me about yourself and the practice.
I am, by training, a pharmacist. I have 30 years of experience at different director-level positions within the DoD, VA, and other healthcare systems. I have worked for Progressive as practice manager since 2011. I work part-time to help out my wife, Tesheen Naqvi, MD who is one of three physicians at the practice. It seems like it is going very well.
Given that you’ve been with Progressive since 2011, how have you seen healthcare technology impact the staff’s ability to care for patients?
I have very positive feedback as far as technology is concerned, because I think the healthcare industry was way behind and now they are catching up. We can now capture things like immunizations, patient physicals, or other follow-up issues – even making appointments has become easier. We now have a clearer picture than we did before. There’s no longer a need to have so many personnel attached to administrative tasks like filing and retrieving charts. We can now get that information in just a couple of keystrokes. Healthcare technology has saved us a lot of time.
Our patients are very happy because, when they sign up for the patient portal, they can easily see all their health information – their prescriptions, balances, appointments – and even update their own contact information. It prevents headaches all around.
Why did you receive the Office Manager of the Year Award? How have you used the practice’s healthcare technology to benefit staff and patients?
For two reasons. The first being that I educated my staff – physicians, front desk, medical assistants – on why health IT is important. It is human nature to resist change, after all. We still have challenges. At the highest level, my job is to convince my staff that this can help patients, save us time, make us more efficient. Though it has definitely resonated with staff and patients, I find that it is a continuous battle. I have to help them understand that there are consequences to not using this technology appropriately. If we don’t update patient information and we need to get in touch during an emergency, what is going to happen? If we don’t sign up patients for the portal, guess what? We’ll get more phone calls.
This is the way I approach explaining the value to them, which brings me to my second reason. I make the front desk staff sign up every new patient for the portal before he or she leaves. There’s a certain amount of education involved. You have to walk them through it; there are no if, ands, or buts allowed. We are trying to strongly encourage our patients to sign up. That effort is the reason our practice has high portal enrollment numbers.
Is the practice looking at implementing any new healthcare technologies in 2017?
We’re thinking about doing telemedicine. I’m working on it – looking at different vendors, and at the related legal issues. I’m investigating that at this point.
What is your number-one consideration when vetting telemedicine vendors?
There are three factors involved – safety, what legal challenges I have to deal with, and cost.
I understand that several of your physicians have attested for Meaningful Use. Now that it seems to be winding down, what consideration are you giving to MACRA?
This is going to be a moving target, to be very honest. I don’t expect MACRA is going to be the last step. In two years we’ll be using some other term as we learn more and things continue change. We do plan on participating. The only thing I’m worried about is that the changes will penalize us. It’s really difficult to break even. Cost is one of our major concerns, and so anytime I look at those changes or rules coming from CMS, I worry. I have not done a deep dive on it yet.
Do you think you’ll need to adopt new technologies or use what you have in different ways as you transition to value-based payment programs? Or, will things stay the same?
I hope I don’t have to look for another vendor. MTBC has been very good at implementing my suggested changes. If telemedicine factored into MTBC, I’m confident that would be the easiest way for us to transition. Going to other vendors for just one component – telemedicine – is going to be expensive and cumbersome for us. We may have to upgrade our computers. If we have to do it, we have to do it.
What are your goals for 2017 when it comes to helping the practice use healthcare technology more efficiently and effectively?
I think I will stay on the course that I am on to educate our patients. The biggest concern patients have is security. They want to know “Is my information safe?” We have some information about HIPAA, and we are educating patients on the the safest way to communicate with us which is through messaging. Don’t send us emails, don’t call us. The best way is to send us messages. Our challenge is to educate patients so they feel comfortable communicating with us using technology.
For doctors and staff, I think we are doing a pretty good job and we will keep doing it so everybody starts using technology more and more. My goal is to have almost 50 percent of my patients signed up to the portal by the end of this year. We are close to 30 percent. It is a stretch, but achievable.