Preparing NextGen EHR for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Fear of coronavirus has been spreading worldwide with cases increasing exponentially. The United States alone has seen a drastic increase in patients, which is requiring an extreme response from the healthcare industry. Medical practices everywhere need to prepare for this illness, using every tool available to them. TempDev, with the help of NextGen products, can help you give your patients better treatment and protection from this frightening pandemic.

Coronavirus Facts

The coronavirus, officially known as a COVID-19, was first identified in late 2019 in the Wuhan province in China. While it has been frequently compared to the flu, this virus is more deadly and incredibly infectious.

Symptoms of coronavirus usually develop 2-14 days after you’ve been exposed, either by direct contact with a sufferer or by community spread in an area infected with the virus. You can develop a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Because these can also be symptoms of a cold or the flu, milder cases have gone undetected.

Even though the threat is real, only a small percentage of people who contract the virus die from it. The mortality rate is uncertain at this point because testing has been limited, but the World Health Organization estimated the percentage at 3.4 in early March. 

All health organizations agree that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, especially respiratory problems, are most at risk. Recently, the CDC warned these groups to stay home as much as possible. Estimates are that the coming months will be difficult for those in the US and other spots around the globe. Already, a number of events, including HIMSS, have been canceled due to the threat. As well, the Federal Government has begun restricting travel coming into the US.

Coronavirus Prevention Steps

Experts predict that the majority of the world’s citizens may become infected with the virus, although many will not become ill or will suffer only mild symptoms. Because patients may not become seriously ill, the COVID-19 is particularly hard to stop. During other disease outbreaks such as SARS, sufferers were easy to identify and quarantine. A patient can have COVID-19 and not even notice.

Since there is no vaccine for the virus, prevention includes washing your hands frequently and well. You should try for twenty-seconds or more each time and clean under your nails. You should also dry your hands thoroughly to rid your skin of any bacteria.

Avoid being in crowds and shaking hands. You should not let your hands touch door handles and other public surfaces. If you can’t wash your hands, hand disinfectant can be a helpful substitute, although it needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. If you have a cold or allergies, try to sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Don’t use your hands.

Using NextGen Enterprise Tools

NextGen Healthcare offers several tools that will help your practice function effectively during the coronavirus crisis and beyond. Your patients will also benefit from a higher level of care and thorough documentation.

Contagion Exposure Template

NextGen EHR Adaptive Content Engine (ACE) version 8.3.11 and higher contains the Contagion Exposure template, which alerts users to a patient’s contagion exposure risk.  

Your enterprise needs to be configured to have Coronavirus (COVID-19) added to the list of Contagion Exposures. This can be done by any user with the appropriate access by configuring the Custom DB Picklists in System Templates. 

Once the setup is completed, you’ll be able to click on the Contagion Risk link, which launches the template and document the patient exposure. This tool allows you to add contagion exposure details or review previously documented risks on a follow-up visit. 

While the contagion risk is active, the Contagion Risk active text at the top of the foundation templates (*Intake, *SOAP, etc…) will have a number count in red to the left of it of how many active risks the patient has been exposed to. 

Once a patient is no longer a contagion risk, you can deactivate this exposure. This will keep the contagion exposure in the patient history but no longer provide an alert on foundation templates. 

All of these features will help you determine if a patient needs to be tested for the coronavirus. If they are positive for the virus, you can use the template to track their quarantine period and follow-up treatment. The breadth of this pandemic will put a strain on certain medical practices, especially if you do not have advanced software tools on hand. The Contagion Exposure template will be invaluable in keeping track of verified and suspected cases.

File Maintenance Updates in NextGen for Coronavirus

The NextGen compendium, as well as any other 3rd party laboratory compendiums your office uses, will have to be updated to include the COVID-19 diagnostic test. You’ll want to discuss lab codes for these tests with your preferred lab vendor(s). Make sure you build the test as a Provider/Specialty favorite. If you order from a lab template, you will want to make sure you also build this test on your template and teach your users where it is.

Additionally, the SIM library will need to be updated with the HCPCS codes issued from CMS. U0001 is to be used for Providers using the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus RT-PCR Diagnostic Test Panel. U0002 can be used by laboratories and healthcare facilities to bill for the test panel. 

NextGen Telehealth for Coronavirus

NextGen’s recent acquisition of OTTO Health means they can offer you advanced remote healthcare and virtual visits. Patients with underlying medical conditions are at a high risk of suffering serious complications if they contract coronavirus. Experts recommend that these high-risk patients stay at home as much as possible to limit their risk of infection. A virtual doctor’s visit can help manage their chronic conditions without exposing them to other illnesses, including COVID-19.

NextGen Telehealth is also an invaluable tool to monitor those in quarantine due to exposure to the virus. Avoiding contact with infected people is the best way to contain further spread of this illness.

Patient Portal Features

NextGen Medfusion also offers one of the best patient portal systems available. Your practice will be able to easily communicate with potentially infected patients so they can stay home and avoid spreading the virus. Your patients can also schedule their appointments and pay their bills by using a smartphone or other personal computing device. These features allow them to avoid waiting on the phone and unnecessary exposure to others with contagious conditions, including the coronavirus.

NextGen Share & Carequality

Now more than ever, interoperability between hospitals and physicians is crucial. Luckily, Nextgen Share and Carequality allows you to share COVID-19 information between organizations. TempDev has worked with various practices to automate the sending of CCDA to referring and consulting physicians.

NextGen Reporting

Report on COVID-19 cases with NextGen Reporting tools including Microsoft SSRS, Crystal Reports, and Power BI. As this pandemic progresses, your organization is going to want to report on:

  • A patient’s isolation status
  • Confirmed and suspected cases for follow-up and public health concerns
  • Trends of the impact over time

You can also investigate if NextGen Population Health is the right tool for your organization to target potential community spread hot spots and proactively communicate with patients in those areas.

The TempDev Advantage

Sadly, the coronavirus virus may test your facility’s capabilities in the coming months. The TempDev team of consultants can advise you on how to configure NextGen EHR to meet best the needs of your nurses and physicians who will be incredibly busy in the coming months. They can also consult you on which NextGen products will best help you deal with the pandemic. In addition, these experts will assist you in setting up the software and then advise you on how to effectively use it.

Many offices are preparing for what might happen as the virus spreads and affects their staff. The TempDev team of NextGen Implementation Consultants, Developers, Billers, and Project Managers are here to help you during this time. We can jump in and assist on important projects that need to continue to move forward while your team focuses energy on coronavirus patients.  

Don’t wait any longer to prepare for the coronavirus. Contact TempDev here or at 888.TEMP.DEV today for immediate assistance.

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