EHR and Health IT Consulting
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EHR and Health IT Consulting
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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EHR Software Replacement Guide - Changing EHR Systems

EHR Software Replacement Guide - Changing EHR Systems | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

In the world of electronic health record software, things are changing rapidly.  The healthcare industry is trending towards replacing outdated or obsolete EHR systems, or EHR systems that are seen as ineffective or troublesome by users.

A look at the medical industry today shows that practice leaders are updating and replacing EHR systems at a pretty significant rate — some studies last year showed almost a 60% increase in the number of providers looking for new EHR systems. If it’s not exactly a stampede, it’s a significant trend that shows how important it is for medical practices to have the right support software backing their daily operations.

Reasons for EHR Replacement

One obvious reason that so many doctors are considering updating their EHR systems is simply obsolescence. Cloud computing and other major advances have led to quick progress in enhancing this type of practice management software, and there are a lot more features and functionality that are commonplace now than there were in EHR systems just a few years ago.

Another major reason for replacement is that doctors and clinical workers may not see the interface of their existing EHR system as intuitive or easy to use. A 2015 report from HealthcareITNews cites “cumbersome” and “faulty” EHR interfaces driving 24% of the movement to change EHR providers.

In some cases, it’s simply too hard to enter data or select results. In other cases, the programs experience significant downtime, or even crash. It doesn’t take much for a busy medical professional to develop a very bad opinion of the support software they use, if it’s not available in real time. A doctor’s schedule is so rushed during the course of the day that they don’t have time to wait for screen updates, or re-do instructions on faulty or unresponsive systems.

Yet another reason for replacement is the failure of some EHR products in being “interoperable” or compatible with other parts of an IT architecture. The overall design of the software is ultimately important, and it’s a good indicator of whether or not physician offices will stay with these products as happy customers, or move on to a different vendor.

However, medical practices have to be careful when making a move with EHR. That’s because these support resources are so fundamental in day-to-day clinical work that they can have a big impact on how an office functions.

The right EHR choice can provide streamlined, efficient services and help doctors feel confident that they can get through everything that they need to do during a day. Inferior or mismatched products can eat up valuable time, confuse doctors and other users, and really create problems for a practice.

Here are some guidelines to use when trying to replace EHR software:

Develop Legacy Data Management Strategies

This long term really just refers to figuring out how ‘legacy’ data, or data sets existing in current tools, will be used in the new system. Understanding this equation is crucial to making sure that doctors and others get the most out of what’s assimilated into the new EHR system.

Part of the struggle is in evaluating the resources at the practice’s disposal and the data sets that will be worked with. Practice leaders can think about:

  • The prospect of data loss — think about backups to keep legacy data on hand, in case it doesn’t automatically update or populate in a new system
  • Consider the cost of manual data entry where automation isn’t available
  • Understand where bits of key data will show up in a new product system

Getting ‘Vendor Buy-in’

Getting internal buy-in for new EHR systems can be tough enough, but there’s another hurdle healthcare providers need to go through when they’re looking to update their practice management systems by going with an alternative EHR vendor.

Medical offices have to have a frank discussion with their existing vendor to understand how the process works. By skipping this step, practice leaders can be setting themselves up for unpleasant surprises.

In recent medical press, some EHR vendors have gotten black marks on their records for seeming to ‘hold data hostage’ — to attach some demands to the continued provision of the services that help medical offices serve their patients on a day-to-day basis. If all of the office’s health records, scheduling, billing information and other data sets are resident in a piece of vendor software, that vendor has a certain amount of power in their hands. Of course, the vendor can’t legally make off with that data, due to existing rules and regulations, but they can make things tough for the medical office if they’re not on board with their client making a switch. Talk and make sure that everything is worked out before going ahead with the system to replace EHR software.

Going Slow

It’s also just as important that there’s a consensus inside the business, and that everybody knows what’s going on. When people have more of an idea of how a new EHR system will work, they’re more likely to embrace it, and opt to go ahead and update. The medical office also has to recognize the challenges of starting all over with a new system — it’s going to take work.

It helps to get preliminary training manuals or introductions to the new systems before they actually are put in place, so that people at all levels of staff can start to get familiar with the interface and how it’s built. It’s also critically important for practice leadership to develop a sufficient training schedule with the vendor, and tell people about it as soon as possible.

A Selection Platform

With so many EHR systems on the market today, it can be difficult just to understand the features and functionality that each one offers in the context of the market. That’s where a selection platform comes in. A selection platform helps you organize the steps you need to take to implement a new EHR system.  In addition, practice leaders can take a look at an array of products on a single website to start to compare and contrast their choices. Using a selection platform can make the job of EHR replacement a whole lot easier.

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5 Ways to Maintain Healthcare Information Security - SelectHub

5 Ways to Maintain Healthcare Information Security - SelectHub | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Even in 2017, the healthcare industry lags behind on data security.  Almost 90% of healthcare businesses had their data breached within the past two years.  This resulted in an estimated $6.2 billion loss for the industry as a whole.  Although data theft isn’t limited to the healthcare industry, the amount outpaces most other industries.  So why is maintaining proper healthcare information security such a problem?

Changing your electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) vendor probably isn’t the answer.  Stephanie Tayengco, SVP of Operations at Logicworks, said in Becker’s Hospital Review that there are several complicated factors.  Among other factors, she discusses how health IT involves several manual processes, that HIPAA requirements aren’t sufficient and that the value of patient data makes them targets for hackers.  Despite these factors, healthcare businesses need to better protect their data.  This is for the safety of not only their clients, but their employees as well.  Although it’s not an easy task, it’s a necessary one that will pay off long-term.  To help, we came up with a list of strategies to better maintain healthcare information security:

Take Note of the Devices Your Data Passes Through

The Internet of Things means that our world is filled with more devices seemingly every day.  In today’s workplace you’ll find a plethora of laptops, tablets, smartphones and more.  With more employees accessing business software on their mobile devices, more personal devices are used to conduct business than ever.  But more devices accessing your data also makes it more vulnerable.  To reduce the chances of a data breach, have your IT staff assess the risk of every device that will access your data.  Even personal tablets/smartphones need to be assessed to ensure they’re secure.  In fact, they’re more important as they tend to be more vulnerable than devices used exclusively for business.  To be clear, this doesn’t mean digging through your employees’ private information.  But you can and should look at the security capabilities of each device accessing your data.  If you haven’t already done so, start ASAP.  The longer you wait, the more you’ll have to catch-up, and the more vulnerable you leave yourself and your data.

Secure Your Wireless Networks and Messaging Systems

Similarly to more devices making you more vulnerable, more wireless connections does the same.  If your practice offers free WiFi for patients and a messaging system, your data is more vulnerable.  Now, we’re not saying get rid of either of these; they’re probably reasons why patients chose you in the first place.  But their security is oftentimes overlooked, since they don’t store patient records.  Alison Diana at InformationWeek recommends creating automated procedures to update devices and users.  This helps make sure ex-employees don’t continue to have access and that new technology isn’t left unprotected.

Go Above and Beyond HIPAA

Many organizations believe that if they’re complying with HIPAA they’re doing enough.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  As Tayengco says: “Many healthcare organizations mistakenly believe that HIPAA compliance is a checkbox, and once infrastructure is configured, it is ‘all set’ or somehow guarantees the security of their environment.  However, even following both HIPAA and NIST guidelines is not enough; these recommendations can take years to catch up to new technology shifts.”  There are plenty of steps healthcare businesses should take beyond HIPAA to protect their data.  For example, Tayengco recommends encryption.  Encrypting your health records, medical records and other data is a (relatively) small step that is a big step towards protecting against a breach.

Training Employees

With the adoption of healthcare information technology still in its early stages, employees are still getting used to it.  Policies and procedures need to change to accommodate the digitization of patient records.  But just making new policies only goes so far without proper training.  Make sure to train your employees, both new and old, on new data security procedures.  Robert C. Covington at Computerworld likens it to putting together a bike without instructions.  “Unless you happen to be an engineer, attempting this will result in a string of expletives, and a disappointed kid.”  To put this in perspective, Kelly Jackson Higgins notes that 36% of data breaches occurred because of an unintentional employee act.  Such an act is usually avoidable, and proper training goes a long way towards avoiding those kinds of mistakes.

Paper Records

Yes, not every problem lies in your health information technology.  Sometimes, you need to look at something a little old-school to keep your data safe.  You may have the most secure EMR and EHR system in the world, but ignoring paper record security can just as easily lead to a data breach.  The security of your paper records goes hand-in-hand with proper training, as paper records resulting in a breach can occur from a lack of training.  For example: leaving a file open on the front desk, or, even worse, leaving records out in the open unlocked.  Despite your digital data being the most easily accessible by hackers, you can’t forget about securing good ol’ fashioned paper records as long as you have them.

Although these strategies will drastically reduce the likelihood of a data breach, the reality is that owning any kind of valuable data carries inherent risk.  Cyberexpert Jim Lewis says that you have to “Think of it as a continuum of risk.  You can do nothing, and you’re at 100% risk.  Or you can do a lot and you can get the risk down to 10% to 15%.”  Now don’t fret healthcare businesses; there’s still good news.  According to studies done by security rating firm BitSight, healthcare information security has improved of late.  Comparing the average security ratings for the healthcare industry from 2015 to 2016, the industry as a whole improved by 5%.  Clearly, the industry is becoming more proactive about reducing data breaches.  Hackers beware; the industry won’t be vulnerable for much longer.

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What Does Medical Software for General Practices Do?

What Does Medical Software for General Practices Do? | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

A general practice or family practice medical office typically uses a range of medical software solutions to enhance clinical workflows and deliver quality patient care. Although some of these may be purchased as stand-alone systems, the general practice office often uses a centralized platform offering several of the same benefits.  Let’s take a look at the features and systems that enhance a medical office’s practice management:

Compare centralized medical software solutions with a free comparison report

Appointment Scheduling Software and Patient Identification

Generally, a medical practice will use a set of digital solutions that will help to identify and schedule new and established patients. Many of these will also have features for checkout, as well as auxiliary features for courtesy calls or text reminders. This type of medical software has become something of a standard for a medical office, in the same way that similar systems have been developed for retail and other segments.

These types of tools will fall under the category of “front office” tools: they’re mostly be used by clerical personnel, not in a clinical setting, and they tend not to have much relevant to clinical workflows.

Billing and Coding Software

Medical practices also rely on medical billing software and coding software to help document clinical services.

Billing and coding software takes the documentation components of clinical care and presents them in a way that meets standards for the diverse community of payers that the medical practice must interact with, both government agencies and private health insurance companies.

With that in mind, billing and coding software can take in data sets such as:

  • diagnosis and procedure codes
  • place of service codes
  • patient identifiers
  • medical staff identifiers
  • date of service and other visit documentation

All of this data will be presented in a way that honors a contractual agreement between the medical office and its patients.

Patient Charts and Benefits

Interestingly, much of the data that is used in billing and coding is also used by doctors and other clinicians in the documentation of patient care. For instance, new ICD-10 codes are a component of medical billing, but they also show up in chart notes and other types of internal documentation, to identify the diagnosis the care that a doctor has ordered as a result.

Many of the software projects that general practices use will have detailed digital functions revolving around diagnosis and procedure codes. They will have templates for automatic tools that help doctors to more effectively enter a diagnosis, document a procedure, or dictate the results of the consultation or exam.

As a side note, it’s important to look carefully at the features and functionality of these key clinical systems.

It’s important that these systems support a doctor’s intuitive use. They must be versatile enough to allow for unique patient notes and unique documentation for patient visits. They have to be easy for the doctor to understand in terms of use. They can’t promote a cut and paste result, or confuse the clinician by automatically changing that person’s input. For example, doctors become frustrated with medical software systems that might “auto-correct” their notes in similar ways as the auto-correct tools built into the average smartphone.

With the right design, these types of clinical tools provide more transparent clinical documentation.

Patient Access

Patient access is another major part of medical software for general practices and specialists that’s growing at a tremendous rate.  The idea is based on the concept of medical information transparency.  Before patient access tools existed, patients had to go to the medical practice to ask for record releases, and were often given printouts or faxes, or some form of documentation that was hard to dispense and transport.

The new model is much easier — each patient gets a password and username, and they can individually access the system to see what’s going on with their health. They can get test results, exam results and other key information from the doctors, as well as the medical history that the practice has built for them, without going into an office and signing release forms. The practice can dispense this information without worrying about HIPAA or other privacy regulations.

Beyond this, patient access is a tool that enhances a two-way street of communication between a patient and their doctors. With general practice physicians so pressed for time, they don’t always get all of their key communication done in a routine office visit. The patient access portal becomes a way for a patient to stay in touch with the practice, and even to ask questions and resolve issues.

All of the above types of functionality can be packaged into a comprehensive EMR/EHR system for general medical practices.

Many of the most common and popular medical software tools that practices use will have most of this functionality included. Established vendors will promote the many different types of functionality that their platforms offer to doctors and others, for example, the patient access portals that they have built. Practices looking at obtaining one of these systems or changing their vendor should do a direct apples-to-apples comparison of systems, in order to come up with the best result for their practice.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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Top 7 Practice Management Software Integrations

Top 7 Practice Management Software Integrations | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The purpose of medical practice management software is to run your practice with one platform.  But too often, medical practices — especially small practices — choose systems that aren’t robust enough.  They end up with several systems that end up adding more manual tasks than they automate.  In short — their practice management software isn’t integrated with other medical software.

Check out some of the top vendors for the software categories listed below in our medical software comparison report

The goal for any medical practice should be to find a centralized practice management software.  A centralized platform keeps everything automated, leaving more time for more important tasks.  For example, you can focus more on providing outstanding patient care.  So if you’re looking for practice management software integrations, what systems should you look for?

Medical Billing Software

Although your number one priority should be your patients, your practice is still a business.  To run it successfully, you need to stay on top of your billing at all times.  Medical billing software automates the billing process, sending bills after appointments and tracking payments.  The last thing you want is to have bills that never get sent out.  After all, you’re not a free clinic.  Integrating a medical billing system also allows you to view your patients’ health and billing information side-by-side.


Speaking of health information, an electronic health records system (EHR) is another critical integration.  First of all — no, EHR and medical practice management software aren’t the same thing.  An EHR is one of the most useful tools in a medical office’s arsenal.  EHR stores patient information for doctors to use later on.  They can also communicate with EHRs from other providers in order to collaborate on the care of a particular patient.  What EHR is most useful for, however, is as a database for your patients’ health data.  This data includes chart notes, patient histories, allergy information, test results and previous diagnoses.  Doctors use this data to get a comprehensive overview of the patient’s history to quicken diagnosis and prescription.


Similarly to EHR, an electronic medical records system (EMR) also stores patient data.  However, EMR and EHR software are very different systems.  But an EMR system is nonetheless a major component of maximizing your patient care.  As a type of business intelligence tool, they’re most useful for tracking various patient data.  This alerts your practice and, in turn, your patients, when they’re due for a preventative screening, vaccination or regular check up.

Patient Portal

Medical practices are increasingly expected to offer a patient portal.  Also known as a patient care portal, this tool is quickly becoming an industry standard.  As we increasingly use the internet and the cloud, consumers in every industry expect their information to be accessible anytime, anywhere.  A patient portal lets your patients log in and view their health history, diagnoses, prescriptions, bills and other important information.  In addition to helping automate processes such as billing and scheduling, it increases patient satisfaction.  Thus, it’s also a great marketing strategy for patient retention.  Just make sure that it’s optimized for mobile devices to enhance the user experience.

Scheduling Software

Where does your practice’s relationship with a patient start?  Is it during their first appointment, or when they schedule that first appointment?  We’ll give you a hint — it’s the second one.  Therefore, integrating scheduling software, also known as an appointment scheduler, is a major help.  Small practices especially can benefit from scheduling software.  Chances are, you can’t afford to have your receptionists manage appointment scheduling and reminders all day.  Scheduling software automates the entire process, allowing patients to go online and select a time that works for them.  This usually happens within a patient portal (see how helpful multiple integrations are?).  Additionally, you can set an automatic reminder to send before each appointment.  This makes it easier than ever to reduce the number of no-shows, which also means increased revenue.


Let’s face it: doctors don’t always have the best handwriting when writing prescriptions (no offense).  Although it’s relatively rare, prescriptions occasionally get mixed up due to poor handwriting.  An ePrescribing system makes the prescription fulfillment process easy for doctors, pharmacies and patients.  After diagnosing a patient, you can fill out an online form that sends directly to the pharmacy.  Pharmacists will no longer misread a prescription note (luckily for patients everywhere).  This streamlines the process by eliminating time-consuming calls or making the patient wait after bringing the note to their pharmacy.  With an ePrescribing integration, the prescription data automatically updates into your EHR after it sends.  So you get to say goodbye to manual data entry, too.

Business Intelligence

Finally, we come to a tool that’s commonly thought of as big-business software.  Business intelligence (BI) is useful for every size and type of business.  Although it doesn’t serve a medical purpose, it can be very valuable for the marketing side of your practice.  BI software provides real-time insights into your customers (or in this case, your patients).  For example, you can get a demographic overview of your patient base.  Let’s say you’re a family practice; you might look at the marriage status of your patients and find that you’re actually attracting more singles than families.  This type of insight can lead you to switch up your marketing efforts to attract more families.  More families means more patients, which means more revenue and a more successful practice.  Integrating a BI tool with your practice management software allows all of your data to work together, both eliminating data entry and providing you with powerful insights.

Although using practice management software is a great way to improve your practice, you’ll get the most out of it with integration.  Integrating these seven systems have already helped hundreds of medical practices run more efficiently.  What do you think your practice could do if it was more efficient?

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How To Guest Post On Healthcare Blogs

How To Guest Post On Healthcare Blogs | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Guest blogging can be a great tool for any healthcare professional looking to gain authority in the online healthcare industry. Posting your work on other blogs can be beneficial on several levels, from building individual credibility and exposure to gaining traffic and links back to your personal blog or social media pages. To get the most out of your guest blogging experience, there must be a strategy in place.


At the most basic level, always keep in mind that guest blogging has to be a win-win situation for both yourself and the particular blog sharing your post. In order for this to occur, it’s imperative that you know what to do – and what not to do – when exploring guest blogging opportunities.


Here are 3 general ground rules to help you get started:


1.) Content is everything.


No blog is going to post your work on their site if it is clear that you didn’t put much time or effort into the content of your post. Getting your name out there is certainly a perk, but it cannot be the sole intention of your guest post, that’s not how it works.


Even more so, remember that while the post may be showing up on someone else’s blog, it still has your name on it. Take some pride in your work and create something that is truly insightful and engaging for readers. Including links back to your personal blog or social media pages is definitely recommended, but leave the spammy self-promotion and sales pitches out of it that bring little value to the article, the blog, or their audience.


At the end of the day, there are many tricks of the trade that can help enhance the success of a guest blog post, but without good content, those methods are utterly useless. Sweetener can make good coffee better, but it can’t make bad coffee good. The same goes for guest blogging. It all starts and ends with great content – the rest is just sweetener.


2.) Find the right opportunities.


Once you’ve created the content, the next step is finding the right outlet for your work. You don’t want to blindly throw your article at every healthcare blog you can find and hope some will take it. Take the time to look into each possible opportunity, and determine if that particular site is a viable option for you.


While searching, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. First and foremost, find blogs that have posted relatable content to the topic of your post. You are using a different website to expose your work to their already-established audience. Therefore, blogs are much more likely to accept guest posts that relate to their niche.


Additionally, research if they have published any guest posts in the past, which were shared most often, and what could be improved.


Lastly, you also want a blog that is active on social media in order to help promote your post to a wider audience.


3.) Pitch your post.


Once you’ve created your content and determined which website(s) is a good match for your guest post, it’s up to you to reach out to them. Unless you’re a somewhat prolific healthcare blogger, very rarely will a blog reach out to you and ask for your permission to publish your work on their site. It’s on you to take the initiative and explore your options – and it’s much more than simply sending them an attachment of your work.


Some blogs have sections where you can submit your post directly or leave an inquiry, while others it’s best to email directly. Either way, there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach a blog about guest posting. First and foremost, check for any specific guidelines they’ve listed for pitching a guest post, and follow those closely.


In general, begin by introducing yourself and explain why you are writing to them. Remember, it’s not all about you. Their first and only priority is finding good content for their blog – not promoting you. Find the balance between establishing your credibility without overdoing it to the point where it’s clearly just a personal advertisement. Show them you have done your research by explaining why your post would be valuable to their particular audience and citing relevant posts they have published in the past. Also, make it clear that you are a team player and are willing to make changes to your work in order to adhere to their blogging standards.


Lastly, it should go without saying that it’s essential to be polite and respectful. Just remember, you came to them, not the other way around.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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The medical profession needs to get over its fear of information technology

The medical profession needs to get over its fear of information technology | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

In a recent article in a national publication, a member of our physician community raked up a debate by declaring the Electronic Health Records (EHR ) mandate to be a debacle and argued that EHR’s actually harm patients.  These are bogus objections that continue to be raised by a community that clings to its past entitlements and easy money attached to little or no accountability. But it also exposes an undercurrent of resistance to change that the general public should be worried about.

Under the provisions of Obamacare, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has mandated the use of EHR technologies for qualifying for additional incentives under Meaningful Use criteria. This includes maintaining patient medical records, sharing them with patients as well as other health systems, and using them for treatment decisions. Individual physicians and practices now have to comply as well, and a failure to implement EHR’s within a certain date will result in Medicare reimbursements being reduced by 1-5 percent progressively with time till the end of this decade.

On the face of it, this would appear to be a good thing for all patients, and also for physicians who can now pull up patient medical records on their laptops or handheld devices at the point of care.

According to a Rand Corporation study, the three key objections against the implementation of EHR’s:

--It costs too much to implement an EHR system: Yes, it costs money to implement any new software. Given a choice, physicians would prefer not to use email or even the telephone because all of these things cost money and have no direct relation to the treatment of patients. What these same physicians also fail to mention is that large hospital systems have been extending significant subsidies to small physician practices in order to help them address the costs.

--It takes time away from patient care: Physicians love to talk about how much they care about being with their patients. However, they also routinely overbook their schedules with the sole intention of increasing patient visits and claiming additional reimbursement. EHR’s can actually aid their productivity by reducing the time it takes to pull up medical history, so that they have more time to spend on actually talking to their patients.

--EHR systems are hard to use and are not secure: There may be some merit to this. No one is making claims that EHR systems are perfect.

In sum, it would appear that their primary argument is that the implementation of EHR’s results in lower quality of care and higher costs.

However, there are a few key aspects that these physicians prefer to not acknowledge when making these arguments:

--Shared electronic medical records can reduce expenses: Physicians routinely bill for duplicate medical expenses, such as tests, that would be avoided if the test results can simply be pulled up electronically. This should logically reduce healthcare costs at a system level.

--Quality of treatment can improve significantly: When a complete medical record is available about a patient, including details of visits to multiple healthcare professionals, the quality of diagnosis and hence treatment decisions should improve greatly. This improves patient safety and reduces medical errors, since everyone has access to the same set of data.

--EHR’s can enable preventive diagnosis and early intervention that reduces costs and improves patient health: Enter healthcare analytics. Having patient medical records in an electronic system enables this data to be analyzed for preventive and early action, improved disease management, and reduced hospitalizations. The whole notion of population health management rests on this premise and is hard to argue with.

At the end of the day, the biggest benefits of technology will accrue from our ability to integrate patient medical information from EHR systems, and analyze them in conjunction with data that is going to be available through wearable devices and other consumer health technologies. If some parts of our physician community do not get this, we need to leave them behind and move on.

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Two-Factor Authentication for Electronic Health Record (EHR) Apps

Two-Factor Authentication for Electronic Health Record (EHR) Apps | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

EHR Access Security

What are EHRs? EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records systems that make information available to authorized users that need to access, update and maintain them frequently for patient care - but making sure only authorized users are allowed access is part of the health IT security battle.

Only 16 percent of healthcare organizations are using one-time passwords with two-factor authentication, according to Healthcare Information Security Today’s survey, 2013 Outlook: Survey Offers Update on Safeguarding Patient Information (PDF). The report quoted Mark Combs, CISO survey participant from WVU Healthcare:

Designing for App Security with Two-Factor Authentication

Securing EHR applications with a two-factor authentication method that doesn’t impact provider workflows can strengthen access security. Using a two-factor method tied to a mobile app on your smartphone provides an easy way to authenticate using a device you already have, while push notifications give you fast access with just one tap to gain access.

And under federal regulations permitting the e-prescription of controlled substances, the regulations require the use of two-factor authentication, according to Health app developers should pay attention to security requirements of the industry to provide marketable apps and modules that will actually work for their clients.

Integrating two-factor with existing applications or platforms is easy with Duo’s APIs for Developers. Focusing on building access controls into health IT applications with two-factor authentication can help prevent healthcare data breaches.

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Tips for Doctors Switching to a new EHR in 2017

Tips for Doctors Switching to a new EHR in 2017 | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

When doctors consider switching to a new EHR, there are many variables. It is important to be aware of the pros and cons before switching to a new EHR.

In the past 8 years the growth has EHR adoption has skyrocketed, from 9% in 2008, up to 83% in 2015.

However not all doctors are satisfied with their EHR. In fact due to EHR satisfaction rates dropping in the past few years, many doctors are thinking about switching to a new EHR in 2017.

To assist with this task, here are x tips to help doctors make the switch to a new EHR.

1. Find a simple system

The reality is that most people who operate the EHR system in your practice are not IT trained professionals. They may basic computer literacy (typing, emailing, web navigation) but aren’t likely to be able to manage detailed reports or streams of data.

Looking for an EHR with a user-friendly, customizable interface is a great first step. In basic terms, the harder it is to figure out how to use, the less likely you will get full benefit from switching to a new EHR.

2. Don’t follow old routines

Just because an older EHR system has 5 steps to complete a task, doesn’t mean this should be the accepted norms. Look for an EHR that can automate simple tasks (e.g. reminders, messaging, schedule confirmation) so that your team can focus on more important details.

It is very clear now that paper-based processes aren’t the most efficient, but the same is true for. many long established EHR systems. Look for new innovations and automations to make your workflow and day simpler.

3. EHR Training and Support is essential

If you and your staff are not properly trained when switching to a new EHR, then you are likely going to limit yourself greatly. There are so many nuances and technical shortcuts that proper training and support can offer you. Make sure everyone receives as much training as they need. Keep in mind that support is the invisible value that is a part of implementing a new EHR. in fact, any EHR that doesn’t provide support as a part of the setup or monthly fees is not likely to be a great match for your medical office. The cost saving initially may lead to a loss of productivity and revenue down the track.

4. Look for the ability to connect with patients

While your staff may receive training, often patients have no idea that you have moved to a new EHR system. For them, they may be comfortable with a paper based system, or phone calls to confirm appointments. If this is the case, take special care to coach your established patients through the new EHR process. Doing so will ensure a smooth transition and a better relationship between the doctor, team and patient.

While it may seem costly and time consuming, switching to a new EHR can open up new opportunities to your medical office. It can automate old systems, reduce costs, and even increase revenue. Look at a wide variety, but choose an EHR that is simple, up-to-date and good value for the services provided.

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3 EHR Optimization Benchmarks Your Practice Should Be Using

3 EHR Optimization Benchmarks Your Practice Should Be Using | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Following the implementation of an electronic health records (EHR) system, optimization should be the next critical objective for a medical practice. One way to plan a road-map for optimization is to generate benchmarks.

Below are three important benchmarks to help your practice determine if you’re getting the most out of your EHR system.

  1. Computerized Physician Order Entry Indicators

Some of the most important benchmarks in EHR optimization center around computerized physician order entry (CPOE) indicators. These indicators are critical for identifying the efficiency of an EHR, and complying with Meaningful Userequirements. Fortunately, these are often easy to benchmark. For instance, one indicator for a practice with a high volume of electronic prescribing is the number of pharmacist calls regarding contraindicating medications. This indicator is simple to follow, and can inform a practice whether or not an EHR system’s Clinical Decision Support (CDS) alerts or notifications are effective.

Other CPOE indicators that are simple to follow include anything from provider and staff logins to printer use and more. Bottlenecks in data entry can also indicate issues with in-house adoption and areas that could benefit from optimization.

Setting benchmarks for these indicators are an important way to track post-implementation optimization for an EHR system.

  1. Alignment and Standardization of Use

One very common area in need of optimization post-EHR implementation is standardization of workflows. Technicians, nurses, medical assistants, providers, and staff may all do the same task differently. While there will always be slight variation in workflows between team members, major differences (i.e. printing and scanning a document rather than importing data electronically) can lead to large gaps in optimization further down the road. Fortunately, this is measurable, and can be an important indicator to monitor as you optimize your EHR system. Striving for benchmarks within certain tasks and workflows, such as importing medical histories or documenting in-office medications, can help to clarify standardization (or the need for standardization) within a medical practice.

  1. Revenue Cycle Management Indicators

Successful implementation of an electronic records system should reflect financial benefits as well as positive workflow and improved patient indicators. Therefore, important benchmarks in EHR optimization include Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) indicators. Leveraging costs per provider vs. clinic volume before and after implementation (taking into consideration training and adoption periods) can help clarify areas that need further optimization. This may involve taking a closer look at EHR pricing models and what the practice’s needs are heading into the future, along with considerations such as personnel volume, clinic growth, federal reimbursements, and more.

Making Benchmarking Actionable

Benchmarking may begin as a method of determining the efficiency of an EHR system, but it doesn’t stop there. Monitoring indicators and determining strategies to achieve those goals also aligns a practice with the many objectives of electronic health records in the first place: improved patient safety, thorough documentation, and more efficient workflows, to name a few. Therefore, making benchmarking actionable is critical for the health of the entire practice and its patients. Creating teams to address issues with optimization and working through kinks in workflows after benchmarking and monitoring is the next step to operating a truly successful EHR system.

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Critical Roles in EMR Training Success 

Critical Roles in EMR Training Success  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Every component of a successful electronic medical records system implementation requires a thoughtful, strategic approach. Naturally, this includes EMR training, and one of the best places to start is to establish roles and expectations for all parties involved to ensure smooth implementation and effective training. It’s important to remember that internal management is just as important as vendor support, and below are just some of the important in-house roles to assign before beginning training.

  • The Executive Sponsor: Visualizing the Big Picture

For any project, either through a small business, large corporation, healthcare organization, or anything in between, the executive sponsor must be an individual who understands the organization’s needs and goals thoroughly. Often involved with management, the executive sponsor must have a big picture perspective, and for ” For this role, knowledge of how the EHR system will interface with the organization is more important than technical know-how.

  • The Project Coordinator: Pursuing EMR Training Outcomes

Unlike the executive sponsor, the project coordinator manages day-to-day issues with groups and individuals. The project coordinator should be a leader who understands the technical side of implementation sufficiently to serve as a knowledge source for the rest of the organization. Ownership of EHR training and its outcomes is critical for this role, and the assigned individual must be able to take accountability for this crucial stage of implementation.

  • Roles of Providers and Other Billable Staff

      EMR Training Success

EMR training roles do not end at the management level. For providers, billing staff, nursing, technicians, QA specialists, and others, key training roles exist that can complement an EMR training program – only if managed properly. Physician super users as trainers or guides during an EMR training program, for example, have demonstrated mixed results. One significant benefit of assigning physician super users is having an in-house expert who understands not only technicalities in the EHR system and how they relate to the individual clinic or practice, but who are available as a resource for providers and staff. Clinician super users should not, however, become a primary resource for information, as this can quickly lead to frustration and significant training gaps.

Always Consider Your Training Strategy

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) reviews three training strategies commonly employed by healthcare organizations during EMR implementation: super user training, role-based training, and process-based training.

Naturally, the selected training strategy will affect the structure and roles of your training team and roadmap. In all of these strategies, however, a common underlying theme is assigning training roles to individuals who can serve as an information resource for others who perform similar tasks.

Leverage Expert EMR Training from Your Vendor

In many cases, the EHR vendor itself provides expert trainers. Leveraging an EHR vendor is important throughout the implementation process, and this certainly applies to the training period. From classroom-style sessions to one-on-one instruction, different EHR vendors may provide various types of training to help you and your staff achieve fluency in your records system.

At ZH Healthcare, we understand training to use EMR isn’t complete until a healthcare organization feels confident in its utility. Our HITaaS (Health IT as a Service) system BlueEHS includes training to fit your unique needs and customization choices.

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Why EHR Customisation Matters 

Why EHR Customisation Matters  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Electronic health records shouldn’t be frustrating. However, many providers are finding themselves disappointed or aggravated by EHR systems that don’t provide the tools they need to support the very best care for their patients.

In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians has noted a 30 percent decrease .in physician satisfaction with EHRs within the past five years. Reasons for this dissatisfaction include inefficient systems, deluges of tools that don’t apply to their practice or even generic modules that lead to inaccurate documentation.

Fortunately, customisation presents a key solution to these issues and much more.

Your Practice, Your EHR

Every practice is unique, and this should be reflected in each health records system. An EHR system for a small practice will need to operate differently than that of a large practice. Layouts, prescriptions, scheduling, patient education, and countless other EHR tools should reflect the needs of providers and their patients. Customised EHR systems impact not only the efficiency of providers and their staff but also the experiences and health outcomes of patients.

The Impact of EHR Customisation

Tailoring electronic health records to the unique needs of an individual medical practice impacts all parties involved, from the physicians and their staff, to administrators, to patients. For physicians, customisation can result in improved specificity and accuracy of data, whether with a patient or reviewing records outside the exam room.

EHR customisation examples can include setting dosage parameters, accommodating in-house test results, or even modifications to make the system mimic familiar and intuitive paper charts.

A system that is carefully tuned to the needs of a specific practice is far more efficient for users, and saves time for both providers and patients alike. And those specific needs are naturally different across-varying specialities. An ophthalmology practice, for example, would likely benefit from a very different EHR layout than a physical therapy practice or an urgent care clinic.

Not only can the speed and ease of utility improve with the adoption of a customised EHR, but also the quality of that data and accuracy of the information. A 2006 study illustrated that after customising EHRs, more than 50%of surveyed practices reported improved accuracy and quality of records. More accurate records and data means better patient care and ultimately better health outcomes.

Configuring the Best EHR

Determining the configuration of a system to maximise its usefulness and alignment with best practices requires careful planning. Resources who can help a medical practice ideally customise their systems include EHR vendors and third-party consulting firms, and of course, in-house experts such as providers and administrators who understand the practice’s needs and challenges best.

Customisation of a EHR system is an effective method of improving practice efficiency, accuracy, and communication for a medical practice.

What could make an EHR built for your practice? The Impact of EHR Customisation and How it works in configuring the best EHR for the Doctors.
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The Promise of Tomorrow’s EHR 

The Promise of Tomorrow’s EHR  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Advances in technology have fundamentally altered and inarguably improved the way we drive, shop and travel. Just ask anybody who uses Google Maps, Foodler or Uber.

Sadly, however, information technology has failed to deliver so far in the most crucial service of all – healthcare.  This is at least partly because electronic health records (EHR) systems grew out of the computer systems that run the hospital’s inner workings — patient scheduling, admission and discharge, staff payroll and accounts receivable. For system designers, physicians’ needs were an afterthought, which is problematic because physicians are, after all, the linchpin of the healthcare delivery system.

To begin pulling healthcare IT out of the past, we must first take a look at how it supports physicians. The short answer today is “not well.” In fact, EHRs are creating as much frustration as benefit.  Problems include poor presentation of patient data, fragmented information sources and unwieldy user interfaces that require dozens of mouse clicks or screen taps. It’s no wonder more than half of physicians who responded to a recent survey claimed their EHR system had negative impacts on costs, efficiency and productivity – three things IT should help, not hinder. These issues not only affect physicians’ professional satisfaction, they contribute to the phenomenon of physician burnout, which is a growing concern across healthcare. Studies show some 30 percent of primary-care physicians age 35 to 49 plan to leave medicine, and there’s an expected shortage of 25,000 surgeons by 2025. A Mayo Clinic study released earlier this year directly connected the burnout problem to physicians’ use of EHRs.

Today’s EHRs have done little more than “pave the cow paths.” We’ve gotten rid of paper in the hospital and made processes electronic, which is why EHRs can legitimately claim to have reduced transcription errors. But eliminating paper is just table stakes; the critical next phase is to do for healthcare what Uber has done for transportation: Reinvent the process so it’s optimized for and native to the technology that enables it.

Patients and physicians can and should advocate for such change. Today, patients have access to a vast body of information—the notes a doctor took, quality of care rankings, the level of personalization provided—and it’s only going to increase.  As Lygeia Ricciardi, former director of the Office of Consumer eHealth at ONC said, “Getting access to personal health information is the start of engaging patients to be full partners in their care.”

Patients of the (near) future are going to choose alternate care if they experience poor administrative practices, or if they don’t feel a connection with their doctor. And patients will know when technology inefficiency negatively impacts their quality of care, whether it’s due to admin issues or diagnosis.

In the coming decade we will begin to realize the benefits of computing and genomics in determining patient care. For example, modern medicine delivers anesthesia based on a number of factors, such as height, weight and age.  But people metabolize it very differently, and you can’t know how an individual will react unless you look at the genome. For the 20 percent of people for whom drugs do not work, it’s usually because of their specific DNA. But since this is something we’re currently not tracking, physicians are left to trial and error. Doctors should know what works for each type of person—perhaps based on what has worked for similar people in similar situations in the real world in the past.

On the technology side, EHR vendors aren’t going to get us to the next step. We must look to data, data scientists and innovative start-ups. Medical research and development is poised to move from a traditional molecular “hypothesis/proof” model to a data-centric “observation/analysis” model, in which it’s possible to do a trial without a (clinical) trial. Upwards of 90 percent of Americans are willing to share their medical data to benefit care and treatment research. We currently have enough institutions with enough data to build algorithms and apply them to other populations in such a way that we can change—and dramatically improve—healthcare.

It’s time to make healthcare work better for both patients and providers. Leveraging the innovative, ground-breaking tools we have at our disposal will propel healthcare quality and efficiency forward. Making EHRs and other healthcare IT as intuitive to use as Uber, Foodler or Google Maps will not only improve the quality of care, it will help to enhance the overall healthcare experience for everyone involved in it.



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7 Ways Telemedicine Can Improve Value Based Care & Lower Your Costs

7 Ways Telemedicine Can Improve Value Based Care & Lower Your Costs | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Telemedicine is something that’s existed as a concept pretty much since the invention of the phone. Every form of effective long distance communication has been and can be used for medical consultations, whether between professionals, or between a professional and a patient. It was the recent advances of the Internet however, that brought telemedicine to the limelight and made it a hot topic of discussion.

In essence, telemedicine can have many forms – it’s used daily by organizations such as Doctors Without Borders to relay different questions regarding troublesome cases from countries across the planet. It’s used for providing medical consultations to places and people that simply don’t have the physical access to a medical professional. And it’s also used to save time for both professionals and patients when it comes to minor problems.

So what are the main ways telemedicine can improve a patient’s health and lower the medical costs of their treatment?


· Easier and faster patient–professional contact. In cases of emergencies, speed is often of the essence. Speed, that face-to-face consultation sometimes can’t provide, but telemedicine can. The amount of lives that have been saved by the swiftness of telemedicine rises astronomically every consecutive year and is hard proof of its benefits.

· Otherwise impossible or near-impossible contact between patients and doctors is made possible by telemedicine. Today, it connects instantly doctors and patients across the globe, making distances meaningless. This not only gives – quite literally – life to many people, but at the very least saves expenses to both sides.

· Telemedicine also provides easier and faster contact between professionals. Instead of doctors having to make decisions without consulting with colleagues, or wasting time in waiting for said consult, Telemedicine allows for quick and effective dialogue between professionals, ensuring the best decision is made as often as possible.

· Multiple studies have found a drastic decrease in the average length of patient’s stay in hospital, as well as in deaths overall due to the usage of Telemedicine. In 2015 a staggering 35% decrease was measured in patients’ average length of stay in ICUs, as well as 30% less deaths than predicted. That’s a difference of both thousands of lives, and huge reduction of hospital expenses. The US Telemedicine Association found that the amount of Americans that have went through any type of remote medical care during that year is above 15 million, with the numbers being even higher in 2016.

· Telemedicine allows for much faster reaction time in both diagnosis and additional examinations. Something like this saves not only the patient’s time (and potentially – live), but also saves the time of the medical professional, helping him or her be more efficient in his/her work. And with time being pretty much the most important resource in the medical field (or at the very least – one of the most important ones), including in First World countries, where hospitals are still frequently overcrowded – this makes telemedicine an invaluable asset.

· Telemedicine is a way for more frequent consultations with professionals. It’s a known fact that the vast majority of health problems escalate because they are usually caught too late. And that is so, because most people don’t like visiting hospitals and doctors, and don’t like spending time for routine examinations. Telemedicine makes prophylactic examinations so easy and quick, that an unthinkable amount of diseases and other health problems that would’ve otherwise gone unseen, are now caught in their earlier stages, when they are easiest to treat.

· Telemedicine is also a very potent way for doctors to interact with the online community and to improve their status as a skilled medical professional.


While these and other pluses of telemedicine are overwhelmingly positive, it’s undeniable that the field still has quite a way to go. Although it’s just as good as face-to-face interaction with the patient in many cases, in some – it’s just not the same. We can unfortunately witness the opposite side of things as well – wrong diagnoses and mistreatment of problems that could have been correctly done in person. However, those things are both eclipsed by the numerous positives of telemedicine, and are subject of improvement. With the advances done in both the online sphere and in medical technology, as well as the continuous refining of the rules of telemedicine, such problems are dropping at encouragingly high rate. Simply put, it’s getting undeniable that telemedicine is going to be a huge part of the future of medicine as a whole.

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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Medical Practice Management Software 

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Medical Practice Management Software  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Running a doctor’s office or patient clinic comes with all the ordinary challenges of doing business, plus a host of healthcare industry challenges.  These include a sprawling body of governmental and insurance regulations, continually-tighter budgets, and a plethora of patient concerns. Medical practice management software helps to streamline and automate the tedious and time-consuming activities at both the front desk and the back office. If you’re upgrading to a new system or are looking for your first medical practice software, there are several important considerations to make before you begin your search. Here is your guide to choosing the practice management system that best meets the needs of your bustling medical practice.Know what to look for during the selection process with a free Medical Software Requirements Template

Choose Medical Practice Management Software That Can Accommodate the Entirety of Your Clinical Workflow

You’ll want a software system that is as feature-packed as possible in terms of what it can handle regarding the clinical workflow. Look for a system that can automate activities like appointment scheduling via a patient portal.  A patient portal gives your patients direct access to their records whenever they want them, decreasing the number of calls your staff has to field on a daily basis.  This not only makes them available for other work, but also frees up your phone lines for emergencies.

The right system allows you to collect a rich body of information, including your patients’ appointment histories (appointments they made, canceled, missed, etc.). You might also opt for a system that allows patients to log into the patient portal online ahead of their appointment time and complete their required forms. This saves time when they get to the office for their first appointment.

Most medical practice management software has document management capabilities, but you will probably want one that is capable of handling documents relative to imaging, such as X-rays. A good software system should also provide resource planning capabilities so staff can quickly and easily identify which patient rooms are available, what equipment is in use, and which staff members are tied up with patient care or other important activities. Finally, be sure you choose a system with robust accounting capabilities, including insurance billing, patient billing, some collections capabilities, and features to handle your outgoing expenses.

Choose Software That Offers E-Prescribing

If you have never used e-prescribing, you and your staff are going to love it. E-prescribing functionality allows your office to send patient prescriptions to your patients’ pharmacy electronically, without the need for a signed paper prescription or a phone call by your staff. E-prescribing not only saves the medical practice time and money, it also makes the process of issuing prescriptions more secure.

Choose Software That Allows for Comments & Internal Messaging

The ability to make notes on patient records and accounts is incredibly handy. For example, if a patient discusses an unusual situation with one of your staff, the ability to make notes and share them internally means that your patient won’t have to repeat the explanation over and over. Your software should make it easy to note and see such things as special payment arrangements and other details.  This takes the level of patient care to the next level, as nothing ever gets lost or forgotten.

Choose Software That Integrates Easily With Other Back-End Systems

It’s an excellent idea to get input from other medical offices before you believe vendor claims about integration and compatibility. Some medical practice management software claims to be compatible with your EHR or other systems, but the process of integrating the software isn’t always easy. The ability to integrate back-end systems means you have a more holistic picture of your practice and staff doesn’t have to spend lots of time manually transferring the data (which tends to be a process riddled with errors).

Choose Software With Excellent Vendor Support

As with any software purchase, you want to make sure the vendor selling your medical practice management software stands behind their products. Again, it’s better to do your own research and see what other customers have to say about a vendor instead of taking their website’s word for it. Would you say you’re the worst in town regarding customer service? Neither will they.

Choose Between Cloud-Based and On-Premises Software

Traditionally, medical practice software had to be installed and operated from your local computer systems, meaning you had to have the storage capabilities and processing power the system needed. This is no longer your only option. Doctors offices that have no internal IT department can opt for cloud-based software that comes with no on-premises installation, no onsite storage requirements, and no ongoing updates or software maintenance to worry about. Choosing whether you prefer on-premises or cloud-based software helps narrow your search considerably.

One word to the wise, there are some practice management systems that “specialize” in a specific type of medical practice software, such as software designed for pediatricians or orthopedic surgeons. Don’t buy the hype. Any system that is robust, full-featured, and well-designed (by a reputable software developer) will work fine for any type of medical practice you happen to run.

The good news is, there are tons of superb systems out there. Which one is best? That depends on a number of factors, including the size of your practice, your budget, and the tech skills of your staff members.

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eClinicalWorks to pay $155 million to settle suit alleging it faked meaningful use certification

eClinicalWorks to pay $155 million to settle suit alleging it faked meaningful use certification | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Electronic health records vendor eClinicalWorks has agreed to pay $155 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit that alleged it gave customers kickbacks for publicly promoting its products.

“This resolution demonstrates that EHR companies will not succeed in flouting the certification requirements,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont Eugenia Cowles.


Cowles was referring to the requirements EHR vendors must meet under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s HITECH Act that their software satisfies criteria by an accredited testing body so that customers can use it to attest for EHR reimbursement under the meaningful use program.

“The government contends that ECW falsely obtained that certification for its EHR software when it concealed from its certifying entity that its software did not comply with the requirements for certification,” the DOJ statement said.

The DOJ alleges that eClinicalWorks opted to added the 16 drug codes necessary for certification into its software rather than enable the product to access those from a complete database, failed to accurately record user actions with audit log functionality, did not always accurately record diagnostic imaging orders or conduct drug-drug interaction checks and, finally, eClinicalWorks did not satisfy data portability requirements designed to enable doctors to transfer patient data to over vendor’s EHRs.

“As a result of these and other deficiencies in its software, ECW caused the submission of false claims for federal incentive payments based on the use of ECW’s software,” the Vermont DOJ said. 


eClinicalWorks disputed the allegations that its customer program was unlawful but said it settled to avoid the expense of litigation. 

“Today’s settlement recognizes that we have addressed the issues raised, and have taken significant measures to promote compliance and transparency,” said Girish Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. “We are pleased to put this matter behind us and concentrate all of our efforts on our customers and continued innovations to enhance patient care delivery.”

Navani, along with CMO Rajesh Dharampuriya and COO Mahesh Navani are liable for the payment of $154,920,000, while developer Jagan Vaithilingam is on the hook for $50,000 and two project managers, Bryan Sequeira and Robert Lynes, each owe $15,000, the Vermont DOJ said. 

The lawsuit was originally filed by whistleblower Brendan Delaney, who at the time was a software technician at the New York City Division of Health Care Access and Improvement. He will receive approximately $30 million as part of the resolution.

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Medical Practice Management VS. EHR Software - The Key Differences

Medical Practice Management VS. EHR Software - The Key Differences | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

It can be a bewildering challenge trying to figure out the difference between various software tools commonly used by medical practices and facilities providers. One common tool is Medical Practice Management (MPM) software; the other is an Electronic Health Record system. They do two distinctly different jobs and help with different areas of healthcare operations.

What is Medical Practice Management Software?

Practice Management software helps with the day-to-day work that goes on in a medical office. It bridges the gap between some types of clinical work, such as the documentation of diagnosis and procedure codes, and other clerical work such as scheduling patient appointments, verifying insurance, and performing billing tasks. However, MPM is much more weighted toward the clerical work. It’s about managing patient flows and general documentation for the medical office as a whole, and less about patient documentation. While you might find patient identifiers in MPM, there should be scant medical data involved.

What is an Electronic Health Record System?

An electronic health record system is an overall digital system that stores patient information in a digital way. An EHR is a modern and comprehensive tool that often includes such different elements as chart notes, patient histories, demographics, allergy information, test results, and diagnosis coding, along with various other types of information that are useful throughout the clinical life cycle of patient treatment. EHRs have been promoted by the federal Department of Health and Human Services and incentivized by laws like the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health or HITECH Act as a way to help doctors meet federal meaningful use standards and generally improve the quality of patient care through improving documentation models.

The Difference Between MPM and EHRs

One simple way to think about this is that while MPM handles aspects of practice management, EHR is a very patient centered resource, and the two may not overlap to any great extent. It’s also helpful to understand the role of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR), which is similar to EHR but very practice-centered. (see more from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). For example, an Electronic Medical Record may only contain documentation that’s proprietary to the specific medical office – it will not usually be “portable” in the ways that EHRs are portable. So experts often talk about MPM being linked up to EMR, but they don’t talk as often about MPM being linked up to EHRs. In some ways, you could see the EMR as the “middleman” in this equation — a solution that’s practice-centered but still somewhat clinical in nature, that integrates with MPM.

The bottom line is that all of these services have become more diversified and full of specialized components to help practices do everything from patient consultation to billing. Shoppers have to look for the specific features and functionality that they need, and understand how each vendor service is going to integrate into a bigger software architecture. For example, practices may rely on broader EHR systems for almost all of their software needs, but integrate a certain amount of functionality from an MPM resource, just in order to manage the administrative aspects of the office. But again, most of the clinical information will either be in an EMR or an EHR setup. This setup might be fully integrated into other parts of the IT architecture, so that data flows through easily without being kept in data silos.

One way to handle the challenge of shopping for these various tools is to look at many systems side-by-side in a selection platform. A handy software selection site presents many different types of systems together, so that you can see what features and functionality they have. Shoppers can do research by clicking into various systems looking at the specific tools they offer, and starting to understand more about what’s standard in the industry and how the average medical practice runs on these tools. However, vendors are also willing to customize to a particular provider’s needs, so in-depth conversations with vendors can also be useful. Those who are responsible for procuring this type of software have to think about cost, functionality and transparency, as well as how to set up and keep good vendor relationships, and how to understand Service Level Agreements, to make sure the provider is getting value for cost.

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Providers Seek Consulting Firms For Smaller EHR Projects

Providers Seek Consulting Firms For Smaller EHR Projects | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Healthcare organizations seeking to meet Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirements are much less inclined to hire consulting firms to fully install an electronic health record (EHR) and more likely to turn to these firms to help with smaller projects that enhance the features and functionality of their EHRs, a new KLAS report reveals.

Rapid Growth of Meaningful Use Consulting: Why Providers Are Reaching Out examines the performance of third-party firms during the last two years. These firms are involved in preparing providers to attest to Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirements, which health providers must meet before they can qualify to receive payments under the federal EHR Incentive Programs.

The report identified 51 firms that have conducted at least one Meaningful Use related project, offering a variety of services. The research shows, for instance, that in 2010 there were 40 large EHR installation projects that consulting firms were engaged in, which rose to 63 projects in 2012. By comparison, smaller projects, including adding functionality to EHRs or providing additional IT staff, moved from 33 engagements in 2010 to 147 in 2012.

According to the report, providers who thought they could implement an EHR on their own have found themselves to be "overstretched and overwhelmed and are scrambling for third-party assistance." However, the type of consulting work being sought by providers is changing. And fewer sales of EHR systems convey only part of the story, said Erik Westerlind, KLAS analyst and author of the report, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare.


The report identified four areas that providers say present the greatest challenge to their efforts to attest for Meaningful Use Stage 1: --Quality measures and reporting --User adoption, which consists of go-live support, training, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) assistance, and clinical transformation --Software upgrades --Understanding Meaningful Use requirements, which involves using a consulting firm's advisory services.

The data also revealed that only two firms--Deloitte and Impact Advisors--are seeing increases in the number of engagements since 2010. The report notes that this is primarily due to their focus on Epic implementations, the EHR vendor that continues to dominate new EHR sales. All other firms, including Dell Services, CSC, Accenture, CTG, and Xerox, have seen a decrease in the number of large EHR implementations since 2010, and in the case of IBM and Coastal, these firms have "virtually disappeared from the market," according to the report.

The top-rated companies competing for smaller EHR-related projects include Cumberland, Innovative Healthcare Solutions, and Peer Consulting Dearborn. These firms offer mainly advisory support, as well as significant implementation expertise. The research cited Navin, Haffty & Associates, ESD, and Beacon Partners as the top three firms offering staff augmentation support.

KLAS researchers predict that providers will continue to rely on third-party firms to help them navigate the rules and regulations of Meaningful Use Stage 2 and beyond, which will require more detailed reporting requirements, greater interoperability between systems, and more internal collaboration.

InformationWeek Healthcare brought together eight top IT execs to discuss BYOD, Meaningful Use, accountable care, and other contentious issues. Also in the new, all-digital CIO Roundtable issue: Why use IT systems to help cut medical costs if physicians ignore the cost of the care they provide? (Free with registration.)

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3 factors that will impact the growth of IoT in healthcare

3 factors that will impact the growth of IoT in healthcare | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Here comes the Internet of Things ( IoT). Again. A year ago, I wrote a column here arguing that the IoT movement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, primarily because being able to connect “things” doesn’t make them an “Internet of Things.” I thought it would be a good time to revisit my position in light of all the press that IoT has been getting lately.

Gartner has estimated that some 6.4 Billion connected things will be in use by the end of 2016, with some 5.5 million new things getting connected every day. This is a significant increase on their earlier estimate of 4.9 Billion connected things for 2015. Clearly a lot of connected things have come online and continue to come online. A further analysis reveals that over 60 percent of the connected things relate to the consumer goods industry, with the rest being split evenly between cross-industry devices such as light bulbs and industry specific devices such as hospital equipment. We have also seen an unexpected increase in buzz around driverless cars which are the biggest poster boys for the IoT movement today.

By all accounts, the world of healthcare wearables is witnessing a boom. Heightened awareness of health and fitness (driven, not least, by huge increases in out of pocket costs for healthcare consumers) is driving healthcare consumers to invest in tracking devices and monitors that can head off expensive physician and hospital visits. Digital health startups have received record funding, and there seems to be no let-up.

At the CES show last week in Vegas, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote address focused heavily on IoT and its intersection with cognitive computing. While this is understandable given IBM’s big bets on Watson and its applications in multiple fields, the examples presented during the talk also gave us a glimpse of what is coming. One of these was from the world of healthcare – a fascinating application being developed by medical devices company Medtronic that transmits wearables data to the Watson cognitive computing and predictive analytics platform and demonstrated the ability to predict a hypoglycemic event for a diabetic patient, 3 hours in advance of such an incident.

What could possibly be wrong with this picture? Here are a few factors, in the world of healthcare, that will impact and influence the growth of the IoT movement.

-- Healthcare 'things' don’t necessarily talk well to each other: I said this last year and I’m saying it again. Part of the problem is the “I” word – interoperability issues that keeps critical electronic medical records (EMR) locked up in proprietary systems such as Epic, and part of it is that the makers of “things” like to operate within proprietary platforms and standards, such as Apple. The interoperability issue is being gradually addressed through the formation of consortiums that are trying to set industry standards, and several innovative startups are building cloud-based applications on data gathered through a collection of API’s. Not what we may call true interoperability yet but definitely a positive trend.

-- Errors in data capture: I have a wearable device that I use for tracking my activity levels, and I can say this with confidence – I wouldn’t show my wearable data to my physician today and ask him to use it for my annual health check-up or for a diagnosis for a medical condition. While the data capture is directionally correct, the inaccuracy levels across a range of activities and states are well outside of what I would consider tolerance levels for them to be considered “medical grade.” Call them “meditoys” if you will, because they are consumer devices today that are yet to mature into real medical devices. We are also seeing unexpected backlashes from consumers misled by wearables data who may decide to sue for damages, as we are seeing in the case being brought against Fitbit.

-- Privacy and security concerns: Where there’s a healthcare application, privacy and security can’t be far behind. The consumerization of healthcare is likely to draw consumer good companies into the sector, lured by the opportunity in this fast growing sector. However, playing fast and loose with consumers is likely to earn a slap on the wrist from government agencies that are looking out for consumer interests. Lab test company Theranos was forced to withdraw unapproved devices last year after an FDA inspection, and brain training company Lumosity has been fined by the FTC for misleading ads. As the IoT movement gets under way, we will see the FCC getting involved in protecting the privacy of healthcare consumers, as devices start “talking” and transmitting personal medical information. At the same time, increased threats of hacking of medical devices will remain a dampener on the IoT movement.  

The coming of age of IoT in healthcare is under way. The Medtronic device that was showcased at CES was definitely a real example of something that can impact health outcomes and even save lives. We need more of these and a quicker adoption rate for positively impacting health and wellness. Till then, we may have to make do with Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes and sun-sensing tattoos.  

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3 best practices in healthcare IT security: How Group Health Cooperative does it

3 best practices in healthcare IT security: How Group Health Cooperative does it | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The one thing we learned for sure in 2015 was that healthcare has become a target for hackers across the globe. Over 100 million healthcare records were compromised in data breaches in 2015 and research firm IDC predicts that 1 in 3 individuals will have their healthcare records compromised in 2016. Acording to John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, 2015 has been filled with denial of service attacks, hard-to-detect malware, and a skyrocketing number of personal internet connected devices at the same time that HIPAA enforcement has expanded. 

An important feature of these attacks on healthcare is the apparent involvement of overseas actors, including nation-states. Nigeria and the Baltic States are  well-known sources of phishing attacks for profit. State-sponsored actors from the far-east are now said to be targeting healthcare records. A recent episode on the 60 Minutes TV show reported on industrial espionage on a staggering scale involving the Chinese government. If the report is to be believed, the Chinese are stealing valuable intellectual property, spying on competitors, and hacking into government servers.

Why healthcare? Why now?

One reason for the increase in attacks on healthcare is that as other sectors such as retail and financial services have become more sophisticated with IT security processes and tools as well as the value of credit card data going down.  As a result, the hackers have turned their attention to “softer” targets with more valuable data such as healthcare as the logical next step. Within healthcare, payers have been hit more than providers. As opposed to gathering fragmented data from individual hospitals, hackers choose to target Payers because of the opportunity to gain access to state-level population medical records, or even more. In other words, a better return on risks and effort involved.

First, the good news – IT security budgets are increasing across the board. With most of the Meaningful Use (MU) work and ICD 10 preparedness out of the way, this one big CEO-level issue is getting more funding. And when there is funding available, there is a tendency to throw money at technology and tools. However, the question is whether additional funding will by itself solve the fundamental issues of information security in healthcare.

Chris Grant, Chief Information Security Officer at Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative (GHC), a non-profit health system that serves nearly 600,000 members, believes that “It’s not just about technology tools. You can’t buy your way out of trouble on this.”

Best practices from GHC

Grant has taken an approach to combat IT security threats that provide insights into best practices that are emerging in healthcare IT security practices.

-- Process vs. Tools: At GHC, Grant constantly prioritizes between process and tools – in layman’s terms, between firefighting and “building code” upgrades. His team focuses on understanding incidents, early containment, and automation at the incident response level. Using a number of detection and monitoring tools, the GHC team identifies risks and focuses on remediation areas. Vulnerability scans combined with penetration tests designed to identify specific sets of vulnerabilities, and tools such as Splunk, a technology that records and analyzes system logs, enable reuse of the data for improved security results.

-- Analytics: Another best practice is the use of analytics for correlations and geo-locational hot spotting. We have all experienced alerts from Google whenever we try to log into Gmail from an overseas location. At GHC, they have taken it a step further to develop correlations between log-ins from multiple locations and have created a scoring system that manages validations and exclusions based on the location disparities for the user at the time, answering potential questions like, “How can Scott be accessing his account from Florida and England at the same time?”

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-- Data Privacy: This is an issue that is closely related to IT security, especially in healthcare. Health systems are required to monitor access to EMR data as a part of MU requirements. Grant and his team have built a production application and framework on the Splunk platform that uses a set of medical record access scenarios to identify potential privacy violations and triage them using a weighted score model for GHC’s privacy team to take further action.

Existing and new challenges

IT environments in healthcare tend to be outdated and the top priority for most CISO’s is the protection of the legacy environment. Organizations need to be really good at firefighting, quickly, and can take time to towards upgrading the “building codes” – identifying and remediating system vulnerabilities and configuration issues. Penetration tests, according to Grant, and other traditional IT security practices tend to be reactive to security incidents with limited ability to identify key aspects of an attack by hackers. The focus of healthcare IT security functions, like other verticals with critical data to protect, should be the lateral movement, or system to system movement, of a would be cybercriminal set on finding and exfiltrating data.

The governance model in health systems is also changing, with IT security increasingly considered a risk function and not a technology function – albeit with a strong appreciation of technology and an ability to work in tandem with CIO organizations. The talent shortage for IT security pros will make such collaborations – with internal as well as external partners – key to success.

At the same time, as enterprise IT interacts more with external systems, including cloud-based vendor platforms and the proliferation of connected medical devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), the mandate for IT security will expand to address new vulnerabilities. The Medtech industry, in particular, seems unaware of the enormity of the risks that their devices can cause for the rest of the healthcare system. In some ways, healthcare IT security may soon need to be called IoT security.

IT security is now a national security issue, in many ways. With the heightened focus on Healthcare data, best practices are emerging that will ensure that our data and our healthcare system is well protected.

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EHRs and the Problem of Efficiency 

EHRs and the Problem of Efficiency  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Some doctors worry about how EHRs slow them down. I worry about how fast they let us go. Too much dropdown makes documentation too easy.

There’s a fine line between efficient and lazy.

Seeing the line is important because when it comes to workflow the drive to completion typically overpowers the obligation to showcase thinking and care. I know because I dance the line every day.

Four things I do to fight the downside of efficiency:

  1. Recognize that documentation is hard. Good clinical documentation takes work. When it becomes too easy I’ve typically crossed the line.
  2. Build narrative. My HPI and impressions represent an identifiable stream of thought. I don’t use smart phrases in my HPI or impression.
  3. Consider the end-user. How does what I create after a clinical encounter serve those who need to see my thinking?
  4. Stay aware. All of this is a struggle for me. But my discussion and thinking around this makes me aware of it. And that’s the first step to staying on top of it.

All of this discussion is cause celebre for those interested in going back to manilla folders and clipboards. But don’t be fooled. Take any doctor from the analog age, give him a two glasses of wine and he’ll tell you it was easier to take shortcuts on paper. Illegibility and senseless scribbling was our analog pulldown.

Perhaps most importantly, the problem of efficiency needs discussion among medical trainees who are preoccupied with the drive to completion.

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Trends Impacting EHR Costs 

Trends Impacting EHR Costs  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

EHR Cost

Electronic health records systems can be (and often are) costly. This is true for a variety of reasons. The expenses of implementing an EHR are driven by costs associated with system design to training and everything in between. Even so, health records systems have seen a dynamic history of prices trending from the very expensive to the very affordable. Understanding these market fluctuations requires a quick look at some of the most substantial trends in EHR design and adoption.


Many variable factors influence EHR cost. Watching the environment of the market in the health records industry can help to clarify some of the EHR pricing variations.Three significant trends to follow are open source systems, API usage, and customization in EHR systems.

  • Open Source and Do-it-Yourself Implementation (Downward Trend)

Despite their initial popularity, particularly with respect to their low cost, open source EHR systems do require a higher degree of technical capacity early on, and some may also lack the functionality delivered by paid, packaged systems. These systems are among some of the most affordable EHR solutions, with little or even no upfront costs in some cases. However, financial investment is typically seen at a later stage in implementation, training, upgrades, and maintenance.

  • API – Application Program Interface (Downward Trend)

Interfacing software systems through API-driven models has also seen a deceleration, partly due to the complexity of bridging numerous systems. However, a decrease in API-driven models can also serve to drive up costs in health records as a result of adecrease in interoperability and an increase in proprietary systems.

  • Customization (Upward Trend)

The more adoption of EHR systems in the healthcare industry will lead to more customization. Practices continue to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach to EHRs is detrimental to workflow, revenue cycles, and usability. But with customization comes the increased costs of creating systems tailored by specialty or individual practice.



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3 Frequently Missed Factors For Choosing An EHR

3 Frequently Missed Factors For Choosing An EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Modern physicians operate in a fast-paced, constantly-changing world.

Between dealing with regulation changes, insurance billing complexities and simple business requirements, the precious time and attention of doctors seems to be stretched thinner than perhaps ever before.

To help them manage such a demanding environment, most physicians everywhere are now turning to advanced technologies such as Electronic Health Record (EHR) software to maximize their practice’s efficiency.

Doing research on which is the ‘best’ option can be mind-numbing.

Currently today there are over 700 EHR options in the marketplace, and that number is growing steadily. Aside from the technical capabilities, and the simple functions that are required, here are 5 important factors to consider before investing in an EHR for your clinic.


1) Features and Functions

This may seem an overly obvious factor, yet it can be overlooked. Before you begin to search for an EHR, consider exactly what you want it to do for you. What will it make easier in your clinic? Will it remove some manual tasks from your teams daily routines?

EHRs can streamline the daily activities of a clinic, simplifying functions such as scheduling, billing and reporting, while still meeting the demands of the government, insurance companies and patients alike. (You may like to refer to this comprehensive list of functions as a starting point).

Therefore, writing a list of what you want and need is a great place to start. Choose 5-10 key features or functionalities that are essential for you. Then choose another 5-10 that are nice to have. Taking time to consider your individual needs will help you narrow the field dramatically, and reduce the chance you are being sold on the sizzle, rather than the steak.


3)Design, Flow and Usability

Design is about much more than color schemes and logos. It is about the overall feel, and ease of use of the software. Believe it or not, good design can make an EHR a pleasure to use, or a nightmare.

As Dr Joseph Cramer explains “Color, space, placement, size, shape, and form all guide how one looks at the medical record. Information is not all the same. Monotony is not only boring; it is dangerous for care if everything is hidden in the same dull camouflage.”

Consider the way it feels to use the EHR software. Does each screen flow logically? Is it easy on the eye? Can you adjust or change the layout or text sizes? Do the repeated functions you are using daily feel cumbersome or overly complicated?

Think about how much gmail changed the way we use email. Small simple innovations within an EHR can make a huge difference. Having to click through several screens to be able to save records, or source data can become an incredible burden when you do it hundreds of times a day.

According to Jess White from Health Care Business Tech, “Providers who aren’t comfortable with entering information in an EHR are more likely to make mistakes that can affect patient care. And an EHR that’s too difficult to work with can decrease efficiency.”

Keep this sense of flow and usability top of mind when testing an EHR.



The future of all EHRs is going to be determined by who can connect them together. Today the challenge of interoperability is still a huge issue, and whilever the EHR vendors limit access to third-party apps, this will continue.

Even in 2016, this factor may still be a nice to have, but according to D’Arcy Guerin Gue writing for  HealthIT Consultant, “The industry’s road to interoperability is paved with bumps and ruts. With certified EHRs now in place throughout the country, it’s a front and center concern. This is because interoperability is only practical if  EHR  usage has reached enough critical mass to make the possibilities realistic, including providing the basis for common standards for data sharing.”

Seeking out an EHR that has a plan for interoperability, and connection to useful apps is another factor to consider to future-proof your clinic.

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The Pros and Cons of Customizing Your EHR 

The Pros and Cons of Customizing Your EHR  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Customizing an EHR can offer incredible benefits to a medical practice, but it is critical to understand the cost-benefit analysis of customization before implementation for the benefit of the practice and the health of its patients.


To Customize of Not to Customize

One of the first questions to ask before deciding to move towards a customized EHR is about the health or the efficiency of an existing system. Are there currently bottlenecks in flow? Would EHR customization better support “meaningful use” and best practices? Do providers and staff find themselves frustrated on a routine basis with data entry or records management? If so, it may be time to consider a tailored records system.

Despite the benefits of customization,there are associated costs which must also be weighed in the decision-making process. Resource consideration is important when deciding if customization is appropriate, for example. Are the resources (both time and financial) available? Creating a cost-benefit analysis can help to determine whether or not to adopt a customized EHR system.

Pros of Customization

Designing and implementing a customized EHR system has many incredible benefits. Custom modules lead to better capturing of data and improved accuracy of that data. SuchEHR system impact affects not only practice flow, but also health outcomes.

Another important benefit of a customized records system is utilization by providers and staff. With a system carefully tailored to the needs of the practice (and in-turn its staff), practice-wide adoption can become much easier. It is no coincidence that staff will be eager to use an EHR system that’s more functional; when appropriate screens and modules appear when and where they are needed, and the system is tailored to the flow providers desire and follow, staff is more invested.

Cons of Customization

Despite its advantages, practices need to be aware of the cost of implementing a customized EHR system, both in terms of time and financial investment. The cost of implementation can by high, which is a common barrierto EHR customization for practices. This cost comes in the form of financial investment, but also the investment of time.

Adaptation and training take commitment on the part of providers, staff, and administrators, and customization management requires thoughtful and careful leadership. Other points of consideration include long-term system changes such as updates, as vendor updates down the line may create rifts with interfacing custom systems. Careful communication with a vendor before customization about future changes is key to best prepare for such events.

Understanding the advantages and costs of implementing a custom EHR system is an important step in deciding if customization is right for your practice.


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Tips for Changing EHRs and Transferring Patient Data

Tips for Changing EHRs and Transferring Patient Data | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

One of the challenges of choosing a new EHR is considering the long-term investment.

Implementing any new system into a medical clinic is a potential short-term disruption, so there needs to be an assurance that your decision to change EHR services will serve you well moving forward.

The rapid pace of technological ensures that most doctors will switch their electronic records system throughout their career.

Some doctors start building a medical practice with a budget, and then become ready to pay more for a full service EHR. Others are simply dissatisfied with their current system and want to move to something more suited to their needs.

Very often the big issues that arises is with data continuity. Changing EHR systems should ideally mean that you retain access to your previous patient records. But this is not always the case. The fear of transferring data and losing vital information is a real threat.

With the recent growth in cloud-based EHRs, your patient data is no longer stored on a local server in-house, rather it is under the care of the EHR vendor.

The good news is that the ease of transferring medical records has been steadily improving over the last several years. The recent wave of federal regulations relating to Meaningful Use includes a set of standards developed to enable electronic referrals and cross-provider communication.

These standards describe the specific structure and elements of a patient record, so that any two EHR applications which adhere to the standards, should be readily able to exchange patient data from one to the other.

The creation of these standards makes it easier to transfer patient care data from one provider to another. This technology process is also used to import all patient records from one EHR to another.

For any two EHR applications, it is unlikely that all data will transfer over seamlessly. You need to check with your new vendor which information is essential.

Start with Structured Data.

This includes ICD9 Diagnosis codes, medication lists, procedure lists, allergies, and immunizations. Detailed chart notes and SOAP-type templates can prove to be difficult because the data is unstructured, and free text format may not transfer easily from one EHR technology to another.

In order to meet Meaningful Use certification, EHR vendors are required to be able to produce this data in a standardized, structured format for any given patient. However, they are NOT required to be able to automatically export all data for all patients.

With some EHR vendors, they may charge a processing fee for creating an export file of all of your patient data. A new EHR vendor may also charge you a fee for importing previous data.

This fee will vary based on the volume and complexity of your previous record set.


Testing the new System

Once the data transfer has been the second step is testing. Anyone familiar with the process will tell you the the transfers are rarely executed perfectly on the first round. So be patient and persistent.

It is necessary to perform careful quality testing to validate that your data in the new environment is accurate, just like in the old environment.

The simplest way to do this is to select a small test group of your patient population and manually verify that everything is exactly correct for those people. Check both systems to see that everything is correct and orderly. Ensure that you check more than contact information, also review medication lists, procedure lists, allergy lists, and immunization lists. Detailed chart notes and SOAP-type templates can also show if the data has transferred effectively.

If you find an error in the record of one individual, chances are that it is a systemic problem that is affecting many other patient records in your population.

If you identify any problems, you will then need to work with both EHR vendors to determine the origin of the issue and correct it. This can be time consuming, but also worth fixing early.

Even with cloud based date, and modern EHR systems, data transfer can still be a challenging process for any provider to undertake.


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Why Does an EHR System Cost So Much? 

Why Does an EHR System Cost So Much?  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Electronic health record (EHR) systems are an enormous investment. This investment comes in the form of time, labor, and of course, money. Whether a medical practice chooses to host an on-site EHR system or subscribe to a web-based system, these costs demand significant planning and preparation.

Understanding the cost breakdown of an EHR system can help a medical practice not only prepare for the financial investment but also generate implementation focus.

What is the cost of an EHR?

Estimates of EHR costs have ranged anywhere from $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. Many factors drive this expense.

First, the development and design of the system itself is a concrete contributor to the value of electronic medical records. EHR cost is also affected by the degree of interfaces and integrations it offers, particularly with respect to other health records systems.

Implementation decisions also impact the cost. Practices implementing an in-house, locally-hosted system, have higher costs than for those adopting a web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) model.

Regulatory requirements, compliance, and certification, are also a significant source of EHR cost. Testing and certifications to meet Meaningful Use requirements or updates to align with changes such as ICD-10 are examples of how these areas influence EHR cost.

Once selected by a client or practice, user interfaces, customization, implementation, and training also contribute to EHR cost.

Evaluating Cost of EHR

                                                      EHR Cost

One of the very best sources for evaluation of EHR pricing is the vendor. During this stage, it is important to scrutinize options with a critical eye to truly evaluate what an electronic records system delivers.

Questions such as “How will data migration or input from paper charts impact pricing?” or “What is the training timeline and volume?” can help your practice to determine value vs. cost for a particular vendor.

This step requires doing appropriate research beforehand on the scope, features, and requirements you’re looking for in an EHR.

Understanding Cost and Value of EHR

High costs should equate to high value. This is true of any service, and healthcare HITaaS (Healthcare  IT as a Service) is certainly no exception. Experienced vendors should be able to provide clients with a thorough understanding of the value of their systems and services as well as the cost. This value translates into meaningful benefits for your medical practice, both immediately and down the line.

EHR value should be measurable with concrete metrics including documentation accuracy, workflow efficiencies, and more. And while this means that vendors are responsible for exceptional service, it’s important to remember that you can’t knock cost without knowing the expected value.



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