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Technical Doctor's insights and information collated from various sources on EHR selection, EHR implementation, EMR relevance for providers and decision makers
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6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care 

6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The fact that technology is rapidly transforming health care should come as no surprise to anyone. From robotic arms that perform surgery tonanorobots that deliver drugs through the bloodstream, the days of being tended to by the human country doctor seem to have fully given way to machines and software more in keeping with the tools of Dr. McCoy from “Star Trek.”

 

However, technology’s evolutionary impact on health care isn’t all shooting stars and bells and whistles. Some of health care’s most important changes can slip beneath the radar due to their more pedestrian presentation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as revolutionary as mini robots zipping through veins. Take the burgeoning field of health informatics, for example. A specialization that combines communications, information technology, and health care to improve patient care, it’s at the forefront of the current technological shift in medicine. Here are six ways it’s already transforming health care.

 

1. Dramatic Savings

Health care isn’t just expensive; it’s wasteful. It’s estimated that half of all medical expenditures are squandered on account of repeat procedures, the expenses associated with more traditional methods of sharing information, delays in care, errors in care or delivery, and the like. With an electronic and connected system in place, much of that waste can be curbed. From lab results that reach their destination sooner improving better an more timely care delivery to reduced malpractice claims, health informatics reduces errors, increases communication, and drives efficiency where before there was costly incompetence and obstruction.

 

2. Shared Knowledge

There’s a reason medicine is referred to as a “practice,” and it’s because health care providers are always learning more and honing their skills. Health informatics provides a way for knowledge about patients, diseases, therapies, medicines, and the like to be more easily shared. As knowledge is more readily passed back and forth between providers and patients, the practice of medicine gets better — something that aids everyone within the chain of care, from hospital administrators and physicians to pharmacists and patients.

 

3. Patient Participation

When patients have electronic access to their own health history and recommendations, it empowers them to take their role in their own health care more seriously. Patients who have access to care portals are able to educate themselves more effectively about their diagnoses and prognoses, while also keeping better track of medications and symptoms. They are also able to interact with doctors and nurses more easily, which yields better outcomes, as well. Health informatics allows individuals to feel like they are a valuable part of their own health care team, because they are.

 

4. The Impersonalization of Care

One criticism of approaching patient care through information and technology is that care is becoming less and less personal. Instead of a doctor getting to know a patient in real time and space in order to best offer care, the job of “knowing” is placed on data and algorithms.

 

As data is gathered regarding a patient, algorithms can be used to sort it in order to determine what is wrong and what care should be offered. It remains to be seen what effects this data-driven approach will have over time, but regardless, since care is getting less personal, having a valid and accurate record that the patient and his care providers can access remains vital.  

 

5. Increased Coordination

Health care is getting more and more specialized, which means most patients receive care from as many as a dozen different people in one hospital stay. This increase in specialists requires an increase in coordination, and it’s health informatics that provides the way forward. Pharmaceutical concerns, blood levels, nutrition, physical therapy, X-rays, discharge instructions — it’s astonishing how many different conversations a single patient may have with a team of people regarding care, and unless those conversations and efforts are made in tandem with one another, problems will arise and care will suffer. Health informatics makes the necessary

coordination possible.  

 

6. Improved Outcomes

The most important way in which informatics is changing health care is in improved outcomes. Electronic medical records result in higher quality care and safer care as coordinated teams provide better diagnoses and decrease the chance for errors. Doctors and nurses are able to increase efficiency, which frees up time to spend with patients, and previously manual jobs and tasks are automated, which saves time and money — not just for hospitals, clinics, and providers, but for patients, insurance companies, and state and federal governments, too.  

 

Health care is undergoing a massive renovation thanks to technology, and health informatics is helping to ensure that part of the change results in greater efficiency, coordination, and improved care.

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Physician outcry on EHR functionality, cost will shake the health information technology sector

Physician outcry on EHR functionality, cost will shake the health information technology sector | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Despite the government’s bribe of nearly $27 billion to digitize patient records, nearly 70% of physicians say electronic health record (EHR) systems have not been worth it. It’s a sobering statistic backed by newly released data from marketing and research firm MPI Group and Medical Economics that suggest nearly two-thirds of doctors would not purchase their current EHR system again because of poor functionality and high costs.


In a surprise finding, nearly 45% of physicians from the national survey report spending more than $100,000 on an EHR. About 77% of the largest practices spent nearly $200,000 on their systems. 

While physicians can receive $44,000 through the Medicare EHR Meaningful Use (MU) incentive program, and $63,750 through Medicaid’s MU program, some physicians say it’s not nearly enough to cover the increasing costs of implementation, training, annual licensing fees, hardware and associated services. But the most dramatic unanticipated costs were associated with the need to increase staff, coupled with a loss in physician productivity.

“We used to see 32 patients a day with one tech, and now we struggle to see 24 patients a day with four techs. And we provide worse care,” said one survey respondent.

While some physicians cited benefits of accessing patient data, availability of practice metrics, and e-prescribing conveniences for patients, most physicians do not believe these systems come close to creating new efficiencies or sharing data with multiple providers or improving patient care.

In fact, when doctors were asked if their EHR investment was worth the effort, resources and cost, “no” was the reply given by nearly 79% of respondents in practices with more than 10 physicians.

Medical Economics’ survey results, based on responses from nearly 1,000 physicians, were corroborated by the findings of a January 2013 RAND Corp. study, detailed in Health Affairs, The New York Times, USA Today, and other national media organizations, criticizing the usability and interconnectedness of current EHR systems.

“The failure of health information technology to quickly deliver on its promise is not caused by its lack of potential, but rather because of the shortcomings in the design of the IT systems that are currently in place,” says  Art Kellermann, MD, MPH, the study’s senior author and the Paul O’Neill Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at RAND.

Another 2013 RAND report, titled “Physician Professional Satisfaction and their Implications for Patient Care,” concludes that frustrations related to EHRs are negatively influencing physician attitudes about their careers. 

“Poor EHR usability, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, inefficient and less fulfilling work content, inability to exchange health information between EHR products, and degradation of clinical documentation were prominent sources of professional dissatisfaction,” the report says.

 

The most recent data from MPI Group and Medical Economics not only corroborates these physician sentiments related to EHRs, but calls on software developers to build solutions that help physicians improve
patient care, not obstruct it.

Closer look at the results

Here are other key findings from the national survey:

  • 73% of the largest practices would not purchase their current EHR system. The data show that 66% of internal medicine specialists would not purchase their current system. About 60% of respondents in family medicine would also make another EHR choice.
     
  • 67% of physicians dislike the functionality of their EHR systems.
     
  • Nearly half of physicians believe the cost of these systems is too high.
     
  • 45% of respondents say patient care is worse since implementing an EHR. Nearly 23% of internists say patient care is significantly worse.
     
  • 65% of respondents say their EHR systems result in financial losses for the practice. About 43% of internists and other specialists/subspecialists outside of primary care characterized the losses as significant.
     
  • About 69% of respondents said that coordination of care with hospitals has not improved.
     
  • Nearly 38% of respondents doubt their system will be viable in five years. 
     
  • 74% of respondents believe their vendors will be in business over the next 5 years. 

Major Disconnect

The Medical Economics survey was conducted to gauge physician attitudes about EHRs and benchmark data gathered during a separate and novel 2-year EHR Best Practices Study of 29 U.S. physicians in independent practices (nearly all were in solo practice). 

While this 2-year study concluded at the end of 2013, some of the same physician attitudes and frustrations related to the implementation and use of EHRs were documented in the national survey. Common frustrations cited by physicians in both projects included a decrease in patient visits, reports of efficiency declines, and unanticipated costs associated with implementing and using EHR systems.

The national survey underscores the major disconnect between the current state of EHR software and the needs of physicians.


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Kenneth Stuart Christie's curator insight, March 27, 2015 1:04 AM

This journal article states that many health professionals in the US are dissatisfied with electronic health record (EHR) systems. The article uses statistics to support this view. There is no doubt that EHR's will remain in the health system. 

The challenge is to implement an efficient system that health professionals will trust and be willing to use. There is a realistic likelihood that an efficient, user-friendly system is available, however a senior administrator has not been willing to invest in it for budgetary reasons. Healthcare may need to borrow money from the military IT budget. 

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6.5 Billion Transactions Boost Health Information Exchange

6.5 Billion Transactions Boost Health Information Exchange | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The quick and efficient access to healthcare data among medical organizations is vital in pursuit of improved quality of care, better patient health outcomes, and lower costs. In general, health information exchange helps reduce hospital readmission rates, target symptoms before a disease progresses, and prevent medical errors across the healthcare continuum.


One announcement from Surescripts – the largest health information network across the country – shows how devoted the medical industry is to advancing health information exchange and quick access to pertinent data in pursuit of better patient care. Last year, Surescripts processed 6.5 billion health data transactions, which was published in the 2014 National Progress Report. The large amount of health information exchange Surescripts conducted amounts to more than either PayPal or American Express handled in 2014.


“Connecting the nation’s healthcare system is a monumental task, and while more work is needed to ensure true interoperability nationwide, there is no question that the Surescripts network is more connected than ever before,” Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer of Surescripts, said in a public statement. “Healthcare is evolving and our collective ability to share health information is addressing a major pain point for providers and patients that ultimately saves time and money and improves the quality of care.”


The statistics show it all – Surescripts exchanged data transactions among 900,000 healthcare professionals, 61,000 pharmacies, 3,300 hospitals, 700 EHR systems, 45 immunization registries, and 32 state and regional networks. The health information that Surescripts shared belonged to approximately 230 million patients, which represents seven out of ten US residents.


Through the Surescripts network, 1.2 billion electronic prescriptions were processed by pharmacies and physicians. Additionally, healthcare professionals accessed and shared 764 million medical history transactions and 7.4 million clinical messages.


Throughout 2013, the access of medication history data rose 75 percent in acute care settings like emergency rooms. Some other key information that Surescripts is capable of sharing among healthcare organizations includes patient charts, visit summaries, and referral orders.


When compared with 2013, the amount of clinical messages that were transferred across the Surescripts network rose by 1,300 percent. This type of extensive health information exchange complies with many regulatory policies and raises patient health outcomes across the nation.


Additionally, sharing electronic data access throughout the industry is a major driver toward combatting prescription fraud and drug abuse. Electronic drug prescription plays a huge role in reducing the abuse of prescription painkillers, for example. Paper prescriptions are relatively easy to forge and medical facilities that transfer to electronic prescribing will make it virtually impossible for addicts to transcribe a false prescription.


“I see the physical and emotional toll that opioid abuse takes on patients and their families every day in the emergency room. E-prescribing can be an effective tool in fighting that abuse,” Dr. Sean Kelly, FACEP, CMO, an emergency physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, stated in the press release. “Physicians are eager to embrace technology – as long as it is good technology that speeds our workflows and allows us to make better informed decisions that increase patient safety.”


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