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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Tips to help prepare for EMRs, even before you choose your software

Tips to help prepare for EMRs, even before you choose your software | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The reason to purchase EMR or any medical software is to make your practice work better for you, your staff, and your patients. Keeping this at the forefront of your medical software decision will put the brakes on foolish purchases that may offer glitter but don’t offer your practice enhanced functionality and don’t offer your patients improvements in the quality of care they receive.

Though there is no need to leap  blindly into an EMR no matter how many incentives are offered to you,  you can be quite sure than an EMR is in your future. There are certainly preparatory steps to take for a transition to EMR. Even if you are a year or two away from making your EMR / EHR software buying decision, there are many things you can do now to make the eventual medical software implementation easier. Though the purchase should not be rushed, the transition is going to happen, so get ready now.

As the marines say, “semper preparatus” always  be prepared.  Here are ways to begin your implementation even before you know which EMR system you will choose:

  1. Make sure that everyone in your organization is extremely comfortable with using his or her computer. Not just your desktop computer, but your laptop and tablet PC need to be easily managed by all hands on board.  Support staff – administrators, receptionists, sonographers, and x-ray technicians, and nurses who already use many electronic instruments for tests and for administrative tasks  – are perfectly comfortable with using different types of computers, but many doctors are not.  If your physicians  will not be comfortable using your EMR and its associated technology, the war is lost before it has begun. Which brings us to the next readiness step:
  2. Your medical practice requires what the marketing people call “buy-in”!  Everyone has to be on board with the plan to move to an EMR. If they are not, discuss their reasons for opposing the move.   Often, it is because of lack of comfort with the technology.  Some vendors will offer preliminary seminars on EMR in order to interest prospective clients.  Offer one to your employees, so that they can see the types of change their use of EMR will bring.
  3. Talk to colleagues who have already made the move to EMR or other medical software. Find out which features they like, and which they don’t. Find out how difficult it is to maintain HIPAA compliance with different systems. Find out which vendors offered good support and training.
  4. Read medical software reviews. There is a tremendous amount of valuable software information available at no cost to you online.   You can learn about different features, and think about how they might be used in your practice.
  5. Consider which parts of your practice are most amenable to going electronic and which are least amenable.EMR and medical software is not an all or nothing proposition.  It could be that your practice should not be moving all of its functions to electronic media just yet. And it almost surely should not be moving all modular functions at once. Discuss this question with key people in your organization: your medical billing specialists, your nurses, and your doctors.
  6. Consider whether your might want an in-house client-server solution, or a web based Software-As-A-Service solution that you lease and log into from any location. EMR and medical software solutions like this are becoming more feasible and are often more affordable than having your own in-house server and having to manage security and backup of your data.

  7. If your medical billing is not yet electronic, this may well be the way to begin your transition to medical software. Your medical billing must become electronic almost before anything else. Medical billing presents the quickest ROI of all EMR modules, because it allows for quick turnaround on claims denials, code lookup, and an opportunity to be more easily HIPAA compliant than your paper files allow.  Prepare your staff and data to migrate to a medical billing module as quickly as possible. Otherwise,  because of reporting requirements and claims processing alone, your bottom line will be compromised.
  8. Identify an in-house leader and liaison. If you already have an IT person on board, and he has the people skills as well as the technical skills to act as a liaison when you are planning your purchase, ask her to read up different EMR configurations, on implementation schemes, and EMR priorities in relation to your practice. If you are a large enough practice, identify a physician who you think can be the physician liaison for the implementation.  Give these people time and space to do some  research – talking to colleagues, attending free or low cost seminars, reading, etc.
  9. Make use of your scanner today! If you haven’t already, buy a good quality scanner that is easy to use, and make sure everyone know how to use it. Start scanning your newer patient documents now so that when you actually get to implementation stage, you do not have to re-invent the wheel scan every piece of material within  your archives and records.

These preparatory steps will make your move to an EMR simpler, and should give you some insight into criteria for choosing the right EMR.  Never buy into an all-or-nothing strategy for implementation. You cannot expect to change the entire workflow of your practice when you implement an EMR – and you do not want to.  You need to follow the demands of your practice, when reasonable.  And most of all, you need to work with your staff as a teamso that when you find the right EMR you can begin with a full complement of invested, able people who want your investment of money, time and effort to make sense.

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Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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EHR certification provides a baseline security safety net

EHR certification provides a baseline security safety net | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

EHR certification and security is always top of mind in choosing a healthcare software application. Not only does a software application have to prove its clinical or infrastructure value, but if it cannot do so in a secure way it will never be the product of choice.

The security questions asked of software vendors can vary in nature. Generally they revolve around meeting HIPAA requirements for access, authentication, and encryption. In addition, having a product tested against a threat model, such as OWASP, or some other type of security audit provides an extra sense of security for potential buyers. However, the healthcare industry already has a certain level of security standards provided in EHR certification testing.

EHR certification is normally linked to EHR vendors helping their customers meet Meaningful Use requirements. Within the EHR certification, there are a set of security criteria. And any software vendor can test to these security measures as a health IT module, without testing all the other requirements related to Meaningful Use. In this way, healthcare software products can ensure that they meet the same security requirements as an EHR and give their customers peace of mind that they at least meet a certain level of security standards as defined by the ONC.

The security measures included in the 2015 Edition EHR certification include:

  • 315.d.1 Authentication, Access, Authorization
  • 315.d.2 Auditable Events and Tamper Resistance
  • 315.d.3 Audit Reports
  • 315.d.4 Amendments
  • 315.d.5 Automatic Access Time-out
  • 315.d.6 Emergency Access
  • 315.d.7 End User Device Encryption
  • 315.d.8 Integrity
  • 315.d.9 Trusted Connection
  • 315.d.10 Auditing Actions On Healthcare Information

User access

The criteria in d.1, d.5 and d.6 have to do with validating the user seeking access to electronic health information. The software application is tested in a number of different ways to ensure that unauthorized users are not allowed to authenticate or access the system. This includes having automatic time-outs to help ensure that a malicious user cannot follow behind an unsuspecting valid user. These criteria do include an option for emergency access if the need arises.


The criteria in d.7, d.8, and d.9 focus on encryption of data, both at rest and in transport. The software application must have a way to either encrypt data at rest, or show that no personal health date is left behind once the application is closed. And for data in transit, encryption and hashing must be used to protect the data, or the use of a standard secure transport such as TLS.

Audit logging

The criteria in d.2, d.3, and d.10 focus on logging and reporting when PHI is handled. This handling of PHI can include a variety of actions such as querying, changing, deleting, adding, printing, or copying. Other related actions are logged as well, such as changing user privileges, disabling the audit log itself, or turning off encryption. All of the logging is required to be included in a report that can be run over a given date range.

These three key areas of security (user access, encryption, and audit logging) provide a baseline that all software applications can meet. Certainly, any EHR is going to meet these security requirements because of Meaningful Use, but other software vendors can also test to these requirements to ensure the industry that they are on par with EHRs when it comes to security. This helps give providers the peace of mind they want, while setting the same baseline for all vendors in healthcare across the board.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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EHR vs EMR - The Key Differences

EHR vs EMR - The Key Differences | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Many think that electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR) are the same, but there are important differences. Electronic medical records have been around longer and are focused on the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions carried out by a single provider. Meanwhile, electronic health records are specifically designed to be shared or transferred.

Compare EMR and EHR features with your most important requirements by using a EMR/EHR Software Requirements Template

What are Electronic Medical Records?

Electronic medical records are the digital equivalent of old-fashioned paper medical records. They allow doctors to track data on patients associated with their practice. Some major applications of EMRs include identifying which patients are due for preventative screenings, vaccinations or check-ups. They are a useful tool for tracking quality of care–making them useful business intelligence tools–but they don’t easily allow information to be transferred to other health care organizations.

What are Electronic Health Records?

Electronic health records fulfill many of the same purposes as EMRs, but they have a much stronger focus on the individual patient. Electronic records are designed to transfer easily between health care organizations when the patient moves or starts seeing a new provider. Health care providers can easily share information using this type of record. Further, providers can benefit from implementing an EHR system from the EHR incentive program. As a result, EHRs build up a much broader picture of a patient’s overall health, whereas EMRs held by single providers often focus on particular medical conditions.

Read more on EHR system requirements.

The Basic Difference Between EHR vs EMR Software

EMR software allows you to enter information about a patient’s medical care, including test results and prescription medications. You can use this kind of software to issue repeat prescriptions, schedule appointments, and bill patients. EHR software also allow e-prescribing, but also provide communication features to allow health care providers from different organizations to collaborate in patient care.

Should You Use EHRs or EMRs?

If your health care organization regularly needs to share information with other health care providers, then using a certified EHR technology is an excellent decision. For example, if your health care practice regularly refers patients for tests or consultations with specialists outside of your practice, then it is highly beneficial for each patient to have an electronic health record. However, if your practice is self-contained and focused on treating a particular medical condition, then an EMR system may be a simple and adequate addition to the suite of business intelligence tools you use to run your health care business.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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5 ways to get the most out of online healthcare software training

5 ways to get the most out of online healthcare software training | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

When it comes to online training, I often find that many participants have reservations about online courses. Many think it will be hard to focus and they won’t learn as much as an in-person class. I can relate – when given the option to take an online class versus an in-person class, I used to always pick the latter. That was before I realized the benefits of convenience that online training offers.

After taking and also teaching many online training sessions, I’ve gathered a few tips to help you get the most out of your online training experience.

1. Tell coworkers you are in a training session.

The idea here is to minimize the amount of distractions that can occur during class. Set expectations in advance by letting coworkers know you may take longer than usual to respond to requests during the training session. Try setting up automatic email replies that alert others you are in a training session and will reply as soon as possible. It may also be a good idea to block off your online calendar so coworkers will know you are attending a class.

However, if you need to leave the training session to attend to an urgent work matter, let the instructor know.

2. Log in to your online training course from a different location.

If your regular work environment is particularly distracting, minimize distractions by attending training from a different location. Whether this is from a conference room or your home (assuming it’s quieter there), relocating can be extremely beneficial to ensure you absorb the information presented during class.

3. Check your internet connection before class

A strong and reliable internet connection is key to your success in an online training class. This will help you hear and see the presentation as designed, as it is presented. A wired connection is almost always preferred over Wi-Fi. If that is not possible, ensure the Wi-Fi signal is strong prior to class so you don’t experience technical difficulties.

4. Don’t be shy! Participate in online class dialogue.

Participating more than you would in an in-person class can help you stay engaged with the online class material. Try regularly asking questions or try answering questions posed by the instructor, even if this isn’t your typical approach (don’t worry, no one can see you online). The more engaged you are during online training, the more likely you are to retain the material and remain focused throughout the duration of the class.

5. Speak up when you need help.

During in-person classes, the first indication that a student may need help is a furrowed brow or a confused look on a his or her face. With online classes, however, the instructor usually doesn’t have visual cues alerting them when to intervene. Speak up if you don’t understand a concept or have a question! Otherwise the instructor will assume you are comprehending the information as intended.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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Patient Management Software Features

Patient Management Software Features | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The phrase “patient management software” (PMS) refers to a number of efficient automated systems for tracking patient information, diagnoses, prescriptions, interactions and encounters within healthcare organizations like medical clinics or hospitals as well as integrations for obtaining and storing information from medical devices. Some of these software applications focus on general patient management while others address specific processes such as inpatient tracking or blood testing.

Benefits of Patient Management Automation

Administrative staffing is one of the big drivers of high healthcare costs. Automating routine processes, like patient flow management, helps medical clinics and hospitals minimize their administrative expense while maintaining efficiency and excellence in patient care.

Solo practices benefit significantly from automation because of their limited resources. A patient management solution streamline recordkeeping, patient appointment scheduling, claims processing and billing functions. The physician has instant access to patient information and a reliable method for updating charts, noting medications and other important data. Accurate billing and bookkeeping keeps the practice running smoothly.

Larger clinics and hospitals enjoy similar benefits while also making patient-related processes more efficient. PMS delivers more accurate, timely and better quality patient care. A comprehensive management program enables immediate record transfers, enhances patient workflow and eliminates treatment errors that result from inaccurate or incomplete paper records.

Digital storage capability saves actual space for a neater, more welcoming office. Additionally, digital information is more secure than paper files, so patient management programs help clinics and hospitals comply with HIPPA privacy regulations.

Automated process management streamlines and standardizes many administrative tasks, freeing medical staff to focus on what they do best: patient care. As a result, staff members find their jobs to be more fulfilling and patients enjoy a higher standard of medical care.

Efficiency, accuracy and fewer errors directly benefit the facility’s bottom line. Patients who receive quality care from a professional and focused medical team will remain with the practice and tell their friends. With management software in place, clinics and hospitals have the ability to increase their patient capacity while still providing quality care. More patients mean more profit.

Functions of PMS

Not all the features of patient management software listed below are included in any single software application. However, each feature is part of an actual patient management system currently available.

Medical Records Software:

  • Records, updates and archives electronic medical records
  • Produces a medical records flow sheet for each patient, which shows immunizations, illnesses, surgeries, test results and other patient information using graphs and charts
  • Combines electronic health records from all providers treating the same patient
  • Issues alerts when preventive care appointments are due
Scheduling Software:
  • Books appointments online 24/7
  • Makes automated appointment reminder calls/texts/emails
  • Reserves required equipment for scheduled appointments
  • Cancels and/or reschedules appointments
  • Records appointment history for each patient
  • Patient portal for self-service
Patient Encounter Software:
  • Provides electronic office check-in
  • Generates electronic intake forms that streamline a patient’s initial clinic or hospital visit
  • Tracks the time each patient must waist in the lobby
  • Monitors exam room availability
  • Tracks the progress of each exam
  • Engages patients remotely
  • Monitors patients remotely for medication compliance, diet and exercise schedules
  • Automates patient checkout, including copay collection
  • Schedules follow-up appointments
  • Captures patient reviews
Software for Inpatient Encounters:
  • Manages admissions
  • Plans and manages patient discharges
  • Generates e-charting
  • Schedules bed occupancy and maintenance
  • Tracks patients’ locations
  • Monitors patients’ vital signs
  • Tracks patient waiting times
  • Graphs patient flow
  • Manages medication
  • Coordinates emergency response
  • Schedules surgeries
  • Manages lab workflow
  • Manages ER patient workflow

Medical Billing Software:

  • Manages patient accounts
  • Automates billing processes
  • Issues payment reminders
  • Coordinates insurance billing
  • Verifies patient insurance coverage
  • Tracks claims status
  • Reviews claims for accuracy
  • Enables online patient payment

Electronic patient management sets new standards for excellence in patient care. It provides healthcare facilities of all sizes with greater economy, enhanced quality of service, accuracy and efficiency. Programs are available to suit a variety of medical practice needs. This type of software has become so integrated into the practice management as well as patient information portal, that the FDA now considers digital health tools like this “Software as a Medical Device”.

Patient management and practice management software are often synonymous. We’ve created a report on the top patient/practice management software here, as well as a large product directory. Have a look around and request the full report if you want to get more in-depth information about the best software options available.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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Medical Practice Management Software For Different Practices

Medical Practice Management Software For Different Practices | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Medical Practice Management (MPM) software is vitally important for all sorts of healthcare practices, from general practices to speciality practices, and it’s part of the cornerstone of technology for innovating in healthcare today. Medical Practice Management tools allow healthcare providers to streamline aspects of administration, to improve the quality of care for patients, and to keep things running smoothly for both the clinical and record-keeping sides of the business.

Family Practice Doctors

Family practice offices are busy places. There’s always a flood of patients moving through the practice at any given time. Doctors have to manage patient time very effectively, and handle many other aspects of administration, to avoid getting behind throughout the day.

Medical Practice Management tools help in many different ways. They allow doctors quick access to patient information, (and also enable quick and effective recording of data during consultation) and help with the billing cycle that is so important for every patient visit. They help provide an effective chain of communication for things like diagnosis and procedure codes. They also help with scheduling and other aspects of patient interactions, such as handling release forms, issuing prescriptions and maintaining access to records.

Specialist Offices

Different kinds of specialists also use Medical Practice Management software to make sure they handle information well, and provide a good experience for patients.

For example, dermatologists may use specific types of MPM solutions for the patient processes that are most common in their offices. Because dermatology consultation involves so much visual tracking of changes in the skin, MPM systems for dermatologists may feature easy interactive image handling, and the funneling of visual information into charts and forms.

For other specialists, such as gastroenterologists, there may be more of a general focus on helping doctors to handle routine aspects of business administration. Many of these doctors are particularly skilled in technical aspects of care, and may not be as connected to the business administration side of the provider’s office. Medical Practice Management tools can help provide intuitive ways for doctors and nurses and others to run the offices and keep on top of administrative details.

Oncology and Pathology Offices

Medical Practice Management is also extremely important in those offices that deal with oncology or disease management. In many of these practices, time is of the essence, and having a better handle on timely communications and scheduling can make a big difference in outcomes.

For these practices, some of the benefit of Medical Practice Management software involves a smooth chain of communications, and having all of the important data on hand when it is needed. In these types of practices, it’s important not to let anything fall through the cracks — whether it’s related to conducting and delivering test results, or sending referrals, or anything else related to this kind of very important care. One way that MPM helps these offices to improve patient care is through the use of sophisticated timeline observation tools that help doctors to make sure that critical tasks are being done in a timely manner.

Surgical Providers

Surgeon’s offices may also use Medical Practice Management resources to help manage administrative aspects of a healthcare business. Some of the benefits here relate to good record-keeping and its use against the risk of medical malpractice. Where the threat of medical mistakes exists, good data handling practices and visual MPM solutions are effective ways to help decrease or eliminate such mistakes that can be tragic for patients and enormously expensive for practices. MPM tools incorporate these sorts of “best practices” to minimize risk and drive better patient outcomes.

Large Facilities

Many types of Medical Practice Management software are built specifically for large facility providers, such as hospitals or other parts of modern medical networks, such as health campuses.

In these cases, where there are dozens of doctors involved and many different types of clinical work going on, there’s a precise need for systems that can handle large quantities of information. MPM vendors will provide packages with specific features and functionality, whether that’s for scheduling and appointment setting, referrals, prescriptions, blood tests or anything else that’s part of the common process for the provider.

Medical Practice Management systems also help these offices, and smaller offices, with specific types of compliance and security issues. The U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA strictly governs the use and release of personal health information for patients. All practices need to be compliant with HIPAA, and can use modern MPM tools to affect the integrity of the data that they hold.

In all of these different sorts of situations, Medical Practice Management holds a very real value for medical provider offices. Although they may be integrated with broader and more comprehensive electronic health record solutions, MPM toolkits are precisely focus on helping to manage the healthcare business day to day. The concrete benefits they provide are based on certain kinds of automation and precise data management that help a digital healthcare industry to move forward in serving patients, and delivering excellence to communities.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

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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.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details : or 877-910-0004

No comment yet.!

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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Impacts we can expect from ICD-10 transition

Impacts we can expect from ICD-10 transition | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Q: How will the additional specificity required by ICD-10 pose a challenge for clinicians and the way that they currently track patient information?
A: For clinicians with “simple” requirements – such as specialists or those that don’t perform too many different diagnoses or procedures the transition will be annoying but not catastrophic. For primary care and other physicians that see a wide variety of conditions or perform many different kinds of procedures or diagnoses they will have more work and will take a little more time to transition.


Q: Is there a potential for a negative impact on patient care as kinks are worked out during the transition?
A: In the short term there will may be a negative impact on patient care as visits may now take longer on the administrative side and reduce the amount of time practice staff spend with patients on the clinical side.


Q: What special challenges will come with the ICD-10 implementation in the United States, as opposed to the rest of the countries that use it?
A: There are many more challenges in the USA because we have an intermediated payer system with many payers that care delivery organizations need to support on behalf of their patients. Even a small clinic will have to deal with many different payers that have their own payment rules and processes. Large institutions will have even more challenges (but they also have bigger IT staff). In other countries many of the payers are government centric or have a smaller number of payers to deal with.


Q: What financial consequences will ICD-10 have on the healthcare system?
A: In the short term the financial consequences will be slower payments to care delivery organizations as systems are sync’d and they work through issues and bugs on the payer side. Unlike Meaningful Use, which primarily affected hospitals and clinicians’ internal systems and processes, ICD-10 is a “fully system challenge” which encompasses payers, providers, and ancillary institutions. Long term, though the financial consequences are likely to be positive because we’ll have more granularity of data and physicians can get paid more for complex services.

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How Medical Software Can Help Your Medical Practice

How Medical Software Can Help Your Medical Practice | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

What Are the Different Types of Medical Software and How Can They Help Your Medical Practice?

There are plenty of software solutions on the market today offering services to solve some of the more traditionally complex tasks inherent to a medical office. For a medical practice, it can be a little overwhelming to sort through all the platforms and their features, from medical billing software to medical scheduling software, practice management software to medical information systems.

What you may find as you explore the various medical software brands is that there is a lot of overlap, with some services offering a little of this and that. To help give you an overview of some of the medical software options available, we put together this quick roundup.

There’s often confusion between EMV vs. EHR, so here’s the difference. An EMR (Electronic Medical Record) is all the internal information a practice collects on a given patient. This data is built up over various visits to a doctor. As such, EMRs are not usually shared outside the walls of a medical practice, but are kept on-hand internally to help treat and track the patient’s various diagnoses and progress. EMR software makes it easier for doctors and staff to keep, store, organize, and access this information whenever needed.

On the flipside, EHR (Electronic Health Record) is very similar to EMR, except they’re meant to be more comprehensive with medical history and shared amongst various practices for the benefit of both doctors and patients. EHR software has been around for a while, but government incentives to go digital have made its use a lot more prevalent. Really solid EHR software will allow your practice to save and access an incredible amount of aggregated patient data with just a few clicks.

Practice Management Software
Every medical practice needs some degree of organization to be successful. Practice management software can help your business take control of its day-to-day activities by streamlining operations. Common to this type of software are features such as appointment scheduling, patient registration, insurance filing, specialized calendars and billing.

Medical Scheduling Software
Few things can be more frustrating for a practice than having a patient schedule an appointment and then not show up. It’s an incredibly frequent occurrence that costs the U.S. healthcare system up to $150 billion annually in lost revenue. Medical scheduling software can help with this problem by sending automatic alerts and notifications to patients to remind them of appointments, which has been shown to reduce no-shows. It’s worth noting that there are lots of different types of medical scheduling software available, even some free versions, and you may also find this type of functionality already included with certain EMR/EHR and practice management services.

Medical Billing Software
Every medical practice needs to keep its lights on, and medical billing software certainly makes it a lot easier for your staff to do just that. Good medical billing software allows you to manage insurance and patient payments, and track their status through the submissions process. It’ll also keep you updated on evolving payer rules, and changes to codes and formats. Collecting your revenue for services rendered shouldn’t be a headache, and medical billing software will take the sting out of it.

These are just a few of examples of the various types of medical software available to practices that can help make their professional lives a little easier.

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7 Types of Healthcare Information Technology

7 Types of Healthcare Information Technology | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The 3 Main Categories of Healthcare Information Technology

There are three main categories of healthcare information technology that you’ll find in both hospitals and physician offices:

Practice Management

Practice management is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: it helps you manage the different aspects of your practice.  This category centralizes your practice’s various systems so you can run it more efficiently.  Practice management software automates just about every task that fits under the “health information management” umbrella.  They take away the stress and give you back the time spent on time-consuming tasks.  The overall goal is to help you provide better short- and long-term care.  To achieve this goal, most practices integrate other systems to truly centralize the platform (more on that later).


Electronic medical records software, or EMR, is one of the most popular medical software categories.  EMRs replaced paper records by making digital versions of charts and patient histories.  They have similar features to business intelligence, in that they can track data over time.  This alerts you when patients are due for preventive procedures and screenings.  In addition, EMRs help diagnose and treat patients by looking at their history and comparing their health data.  All these features allow you to provide consistently better long-term care.


Electronic health records software, or EHR, is another extremely popular category.  As you may have guessed by the name, they have similar functionality to EMRs.  An EHR provides health information management in the form of digital health records.  The differences from EMR begin, however, by providing a broader view.  EHRs include a patient’s history, diagnoses, treatments, medications, allergies, X-rays, test results and more.  Another advantage is the ability to share information.  While EMRs give a healthcare provider a great overview of a patient, they can only do so for that provider.  EHRs, on the other hand, can share patient data with other EHRs.  This allows a healthcare provider other than the patient’s primary provider to access the same information.  So when a patient moves or goes to an emergency room, they can still be properly treated.

The 4 Smaller Categories of Healthcare Information Technology

There are also smaller categories of healthcare information technology that aren’t as common.  These systems are often integrated with practice management software to provide robust functionality and better patient care.

Patient Portal

Today’s consumer expects more transparency and accessibility than ever before.  This is certainly true for the healthcare industry, where patients want access to their medical records.  You certainly can’t blame them, so patient portals were developed.  They’ve increased in popularity among hospitals and medical practices in recent years, and appear to become an industry standard.  Patient portals allow access to just about everything in an EMR and EHR, including their history, treatments, medications, etc.


Scheduling software oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with a patient portal.  This allows patients to login to the portal, view their previous treatments, receive an alert that it’s time for a check up and then schedule it.  Possibly the biggest advantage of scheduling software is reducing your phone traffic.  Rather than having to call every time they want to make an appointment, patients can just go online and do it.  Plus, in today’s digital age, they prefer to do it on their device of choice anyway.

Medical Billing

One of the more time-consuming tasks for practices is managing patient billing.  Writing up, sending and processing payments takes a lot of time, especially for busy hospitals and practices.  That’s where medical billing software steps in.  A medical billing system automates all of this, so you don’t have to think about billing at all.  If there’s an issue such as a late payment, the system alerts you so you can act accordingly.


One of the last parts of an appointment is sending the patient’s prescription to their pharmacy.  In order to expedite the process, physician offices began using ePrescribing software.  In just a few clicks, a prescription is sent, filled and waiting for the patient when they get there.  This saves not only your time, but your patients’ as well.  Additionally, ePrescribing systems ensure that there’s never a prescription mix up due to, say, poor handwriting (no offense doctors).  The system displays the prescription to the pharmacy so they can ensure patient safety by giving the patient the right one.  A study by Decision Resources found that using ePrescribing software has increased the prescribing of generic drugs.  This furthers your mission of patient care by providing them with cost-effective medicine.

Although there are lots of different medical software categories, hopefully this list has helped clear up any questions you had.  If you haven’t used any of these systems yet, you might want to start looking into some options.  Just think of how much better you can run your hospital or practice with some or all of these systems.

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Adam's curator insight, December 24, 2017 5:11 AM
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Benefits of EHR Systems - Benefits of Using EHR

Benefits of EHR Systems - Benefits of Using EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) radically changed the healthcare landscape, and the rise of electronic health records (EHRs) as critical tools for delivery and continuity of care is one of its more involved outcomes. There are significant benefits of EHR systems for healthcare providers from small private practices to large hospitals and provider groups. To find the best EHR software for your business, make sure it provides these seven key benefits:


Meaningful Use

The ACA’s Meaningful Use mandates began to go into effect last year, and providers who aren’t caught up are losing money. The best EHR software is designed to help your practice meet Meaningful Use guidelines and prepare you for upcoming mandates in future stages. There are a number of EHR Incentive Programs that optimal EHR software will help you take advantage of so that you aren’t leaving money on the table.


Third party EHR software can grow with your practice and be scaled up rapidly to include larger patient bases. And cloud-based EHRs can quickly integrate patient populations in the event that your practice chooses to join an accountable care organization or group practice.


Online EHRs are always accessible. Unlike EHRs stored on a single server in your office, you can access EHRs managed by a third party vendor from any location with an Internet connection. This allows you to improve collaboration with other health care providers, involve patients in management of their care and respond to patients’ concerns from anywhere.


An EHR vendor who provides customer support around the clock can make your IT concerns disappear. They can also provide on site support that will significantly reduce your IT costs. Data migration, updates and patches are handled automatically so that you don’t even have to think about IT support.


EHRs that can interface with other systems allow your practice to optimize continuity of care. If your patients need to see specialists, manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or plan on transitioning to a home health care environment for recuperation or hospice, an EHR system that offers interoperability is critical.


Every practice is somewhat different, and EHR systems can be customized to meet your practice’s individual needs so that you get the best possible package. An EHR package that can be tailored to fit your practice’s workflow will make the transition virtually seamless.


Protecting electronic health information is critical. One of the benefits of EHR systems is that they can make sure your practice is HIPAA-compliant and that your health records are protected. EHR companies that are compliant with IDC9/10, CPT and other EHR standards offer the highest security.

Adopting a robust EHR software platform isn’t just about maintaining compliance with Meaningful Use or even about ensuring the best delivery of care to your patients. It’s also about optimizing your practice’s ability to make smart business decisions based on patient data. This kind of business intelligence is critical to growing your practice and optimizing your bottom line.

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Medical Billing Software vs. Medical Billing Services

Medical Billing Software vs. Medical Billing Services | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

review the features and benefits of each method:

Medical Billing Services

When you opt for outsourcing, your staff will forward bills and other financial documents to a medical billing service provider. According to The Profitable Practice, once the service receives your paperwork, the company will manage your claim submissions, tracking and basic data entry tasks. Typically, you’ll pay a medical billing company a percentage of the amount that they collect. Currently, the industry average is around 7 percent.

Medical Billing Software

Traditionally with medical billing software, you’d have a software installed locally that to manage your practice’s finances. Cloud-based medical billing software is becoming more prominent and is also a viable option. In most cases, medical practices only require basic billing software, but if your system is outdated, you may consider upgrading to a billing management program. The extended framework includes features that will help you manage your entire facility. Features include using it for scheduling, storing electronic medical records and assessing imaging.

How They Differ

Because billing can be time consuming and emotionally challenging, you may prefer to outsource. Medical billing service companies follow up on rejected insurance claims, and they will contact patients regarding delinquent accounts. This type of service is set up to send invoices to your patients. If your practice is short-staffed, then a service provider may be more helpful than in-house software since outsourcing decreases the amount of labor needed to operate your facility. A major benefit to choosing a medical billing service provider is the convenience that it offers.

Medical billing companies may provide better transparency. If you select this type of service, make sure that the company supplies detailed performance reports upon request. This will let you review your billing operations. Outsourcing ensures that you will have access to a billing staff at all times. The service also delivers operational consistency as most companies agree to perform a specific set of services. One of the downsides to outsourcing is its variable cost. This feature delivers budgeting challenges since the company’s fees will change every month. Also, outsourcing may include extra fees. Before contracting with a billing service provider, confirm their exact pricing structure. In addition, you will need to hand over billing control to another entity.

By choosing in-house software, you’ll be retaining complete control of your practice’s operations, which provides peace of mind. Once you’ve paid for medical billing training and the processing software, you’ll have a better return on your investment. If problems arise, then you’ll have immediate access to your records. With in-house billing software, you can quickly address any administrative issues.

One of the drawbacks to in-house billing is the cost. The additional salaries and expenses for employee benefits are likely to increase your practice’s overhead. Billing technology systems can be pricey, and cash flow problems may arise when you have a small staff of one or two billers. If one of your employees becomes sick, takes a vacation or quits, then you’ll be facing retraining expenses for a new employee as well as a potentially stalled billing department in the interim.

Final Considerations

Billing management can be a tough choice since service providers and in-house software offer advantages and disadvantages. When making the decision, consider the size, age and needs of your practice. For instance, if you’re just getting started, it may make more financial sense to outsource. If your practice is established with a billing system in place, then a system upgrade may be all that you need.

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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.

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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.

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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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