PA Athletic Trainer’s Prepare for Electronic Health Records ahead of 2015 Deadline

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National Provider Identifier numbers and Electronic Health Records are important for Athletic Trainer’s.

ESU Athletic Training Professor - Scott Dietrich, EdD, LAT, ATC reviews patient outcome data using Electronic Medical Records

"Applying for an NPI number is quick, easy and free. Once ATs get their NPI number, it will be theirs forever -- no matter where they work. There’s no downside to having an NPI number." Linda F. Mazzoli, MS, LAT, ATC, PTA - Executive Director of PATS

After 2015 physicians may be subject to fines and penalties if they have not met meaningful use standards for health information technology (HIT) and Electronic Health Records (EHR). In 2010 Pennsylvania was awarded $17.1 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help establish a health information exchange. ARRA also provided incentives to eligible healthcare professionals and hospitals to help encourage the adoption and meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems.

Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchanges (HIE’s) are designed to benefit patients and physicians by making important medical data more secure and accessible to healthcare providers. Certified Athletic Trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. Athletic Trainers are eligible to obtain a free National Provider Identifier number (NPI) number and gain access to the eHealth collaborative once it is developed.

“Applying for an NPI number is quick, easy and free. Once ATs get their NPI number, it will be theirs forever -- no matter where they work. There’s no downside to having an NPI number,” said Linda F. Mazzoli, MS, LAT, ATC, PTA, PES - Executive Director of PATS and NATA, Chair - Committee on Revenue, in a 2011 letter asking licensed athletic trainers to apply for their identification numbers. The NPI is a 10 digit, numeric identifier that consists of 9 numbers plus a check-digit in the 10th position. It is accommodated in all standard transactions and contains no embedded information about the healthcare provider that it identifies. When filling out the application use: Provider Code 22 - Respiratory, Rehabilitative & Restorative Service Providers and Taxonomy Code - 2255A2300X (Athletic Trainer)

The PA eHealth collaborative website explains the requirements to gain access to the DIRECT database, which is a secure email system that provides the standards and services necessary to securely push content from a sender to a receiver. “DIRECT benefits patients and providers by improving the sharing of health information, making it faster, more secure and less expensive. It is also a first step towards the adoption of more robust forms of health information exchange.”

When physicians and athletic trainers can collaborate by sharing medical evaluations, progress reports and imaging results their patients and their practices will benefit in new and innovative ways. An electronic Health Information Exchange can help improve care coordination, patient safety, public health outcomes, and patient-physician quality time during office visits, ostensibly preventing medical errors and reducing redundant tests and procedures and overall health care costs.

“A statewide health information exchange would open the door for better health care in Pennsylvania,” said Ralph Schmeltz, MD, president of PAMED, in his testimony before the Communications and Technology Committee last year.

Finally healthcare professionals must demonstrate a strong commitment and resolve; the focus must remain on the many patient benefits and efficiency that Electronic Health Records can bring. Practitioners who are experienced enough to remember the Commodore C64 computer and its tape cassette filing system, fully understand that any new technology will inevitably bring with it new challenges and frustrations especially early on. Inventions like the C64 were never glamorous but they ultimately paved the way for many of the innovations that we rely on today.
Specific steps for Athletic Trainers to gain access to EHR include…

Step 1 – Register for a National Provider Identifier number

Step 2 - Research history and key terms associated with EHR implementation

Step 3 - Consult team physician or local hospital about their plans for implementing a comprehensive EHR.

Step 4 - Carefully assess costs, benefits and limitations of leading vendors and liabilities

Step 5 - Share success and challenges for gaining accessibility to EHR.

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Yvette Ingram PhD, LAT, ATC
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