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 for Fixing a Botched EHR Implementation

Tips for Fixing a Botched EHR Implementation | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Organizations face many challenges when implementing electronic health records platforms (EHR), but fixing a botched implementation can be among the most stressful.  Problems with EHR implementation can reverberate throughout a healthcare organization and must be recognized and fixed as soon as possible.

The first step of a successful remedy is to create an action plan that prioritizes the fixes that will have the most immediate impact in helping operations return to optimal performance. Once those pressing problems are solved, it’s time to address all of the other issues. Here are a few useful tips to help guide you through that process.

Establish A Task Force

It’s wise to establish a task force to deal with each particular problem. The task force should include members whose specialties overlap with the problem area. For example, someone directly involved with the revenue side should be involved with resolving all revenue issues.

The task force should closely analyze the problem, and look for the breakdowns in the system. One might start by looking at whether staff members are able to input data. If so, check to see where it ends up. By taking a systematic approach, the task force will be able to get to the root of the problem more efficiently.

Carefully Calibrate Staffing

It’s quite common for healthcare organizations to wonder whether outside resources should be brought in to help rectify problematic EHR implementations. There are a couple of different approaches that work quite well.

[Related: How “The RightFit” Process Guarantees You’ll Get the Best Quality Consultants]

One option is to remove the appropriate internal staff from their normal day-to-day duties and have them focus exclusively on fixing the EHR platform issues (staff augmentation). Outside resources would then be brought in to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of those internal staff resources until the issues are resolved and they can resume their normal duties.

Another option is to bring in third-party consultants to solve the EHR application problems and allow the internal staff resources to continue concentrating on their normal day-to-day duties.

Which option is better depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the organization, the nature of the EHR problems, and the level of expertise the internal staff resources have in regards to the EHR platform.

Ensure Sufficient Resources and Track Progress

It’s important to engage key stakeholders throughout this process. The financial side of the organization must be included in the decision-making, so that adequate support can be provided to execute the fixes. To help build trust with the financial side, it’s imperative to establish metrics for success. This not only serves to prove the business case for the implementation fixes, but also ensures the project stays on track throughout the process.

Engage with End Users

In a situation in which the EHR solution is not performing as expected, perhaps the most vital tip is maintaining some degree of buy-in among the clinicians and staff who use the application on a daily basis. It’s essential to work closely with key stakeholders and influencers, like the chief medical officer, the nursing leadership, and even the financial department to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Have them propagate the message that the problems are being worked on and will soon be fixed.

After a botched implementation, IT staff might encounter a lot of resistance, but it’s important to break through this and emphasize what the long terms benefits of the EHR project will be once it is done correctly. By making these benefits clearer, it will become easier to keep everyone on board during a period of difficulty.

By following these EHR best practices, organizations will be able to more effectively overcome botched implementations, and will be better situated to have more success once they start on their EHR optimization projects.

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Digital Health Funding On The Rise

Digital Health Funding On The Rise | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The digital health industry is continuing its growth in record-breaking ways, as funding to the industry pushed past $6.5 billion in the first half of 2017, according to a recent report by StartUp Health. This year’s numbers are already well on their way to overtaking the annual totals of previous years.

 

As the digital health industry has continued to mature, interest from new investors has likewise grown. This was noted in Rock Health’s comprehensive Digital Health Funding 2017 Midyear Review, a report that analyzed US deals disclosed at over $2 million during Q1 and Q2.

 

Pull factors, such as (but certainly not limited to) Apple’s not-so-secret work on diabetes health tech, have contributed to investors seeing the industry as a more attractive, tangible marketplace. More investors are interested in the industry, and more importantly, they’re investing much more on average: seven out of the top ten deals this year so far have involved over $100 million each. Outcome Health, the company that set the largest digital health deal on record, came out with $500 million in funding earlier this year.

 

The widely accepted reality is that the health industry is taking an inevitable shift towards digital health aids. And as digital health technology advances, their use becomes more widespread, with hundreds of millions of potential users in some cases. Belief in this potential can be seen in this year’s top deals in digital health. As the health industry continues its transition towards digital health aids, and as digital health companies continue to develop pertinent, breakthrough technology, the industry is poised to continue its growth undeterred.

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Is an Automated EHR Data Conversion Right for You?

Is an Automated EHR Data Conversion Right for You? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

EHR data conversion is the process of taking data from a legacy electronic health record system and transferring it to a new system. EHR data conversion can either be performed manually or through an automated process. Manual data conversion carries a significant risk of data manipulation. As a result, many healthcare organizations choose automated EHR data conversion when working with large sets of data.

 

Determining if an automated data conversion is right for your healthcare organization can be a difficult challenge. Below you will find the types of questions you should ask your in-house team when considering if an automated EHR data conversion fits your organization’s needs.

 

In an automated conversion, source values are extracted from both the legacy (source) system and new (target) system to create a conversion map. That map is entered into a conversion utility software. Data from the legacy system is run through the conversion utility and transformed to meet the needs of the new system. While it is being transformed, the conversion utility is monitoring for errors and success rates. After the data has met the standards, it is then loaded into the new system.

 

  • Have we acquired or do we plan to acquire facilities with disparate EHRs?
  • Are we going to continue to acquire new practices or hospitals?
  • Are we struggling with a plan for handling and storing the data?
  • Do our providers and staff function out of more than one system?
  • Does our EHR have capacity we are not using?
  • Does our legacy system require internal experts?
  • Do we have specialties, such as Obstetric Gynecology or Pediatrics, that are required to store data for longer periods of time?
  • Do we have more than 30,000 records we need to convert?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, an automated EHR data conversion might be a good fit for your healthcare organization.

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Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices

Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Human lives depend on how well a healthcare organization manages its EHR integration of medical devices.

The assigned project manager spearheading numerous large health system enterprise-wise medical device integration programs for over a decade, I’ve learned an essential lesson about EHR integration of medical devices.

 

Data captured from thousands of heart monitors, ventilators, balloon pumps, and other bedside devices must be perfectly managed, seamlessly integrated, and standardized to each patient’s electronic health record (EHR) and then made accessible to multiple providers. Once synced properly across the care continuum, connected medical devices play a critical role in the transfer of near real-time, reliable data to EHRs that improve both the safety and quality of patient care.

Otherwise, failing to do so can prove fatal.

Lessons borne out of experience

Dig Deeper

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My role in bringing together clinicians, IT experts and device vendor representatives is to achieve that goal through flawless organization of precise integration methods and over-communication. Sharing information among these three teams is paramount to our success — that is, we’re managing vital data used by physicians and nurses as analytics in making life-changing medical decisions as quickly as possible.

Additionally, I have learned other valuable lessons about EHR integration of medical devices.

 

Start with a clean inventory list of biomedical devices and equipment planned for the device integration project. This list should comprise the number counts of all devices and supporting equipment including firmware versions and serial ports in addition to Ethernet gateway connections.

 

At the project’s onset evaluate and identify devices lacking the capability to integrate. Identify older firmware versions and research feasibility of cost to update as opposed to replacement.

Conduct walkthroughs on clinical rounds to determine data points for integration in order to identify network cabling and power needs. At that time, initiate engaging device vendors and setting clear deadlines and key parameters for the EHR integration.

Ensure middleware vendors partnering with the medical facilities supply all security-related product information upfront.

Invite middleware vendors to an onsite visit to determine exactly how much hardware is needed to ensure connectivity with other devices. Also include them in weekly or biweekly team update meetings. They are oftentimes overlooked.

 

Be adaptable and versatile to make quick adjustments while also striving to deliver impeccable results. Since workflows are not usually established upfront, responsibilities get shuffled around and integration details quickly become overwhelming.

Find creative ways to facilitate communication among the different team members. For example, assign color-coded status levels — green, yellow and red — to flag a change in project progression to speed up problem resolution. When senior management tackles red status issues as a group, expect people to pay attention!

 

Organization translates to project acceleration

Finally, organization of every integration detail is imperative. Associated device hardware, such as installing mounting hardware and new monitors in each patient room, must be managed. Biomedical managers, hospital IT groups, and clinical administrators must work concurrently to coordinate every step. In my experience, managing all of these different teams is by far the most challenging aspect of device integration.

 

Our healthcare ecosystem is slowly but surely modernizing, and we must leverage our technologies every possible way to maximize delivery of patient care to improve outcomes and the patient-provider experience. Ultimately, the success of any enterprise-wide EHR integration of medical devices is founded on strong communication and organization in addition to data management.

 

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8 Best Practices for Building Better Relationships During EHR Implementation and Training 

8 Best Practices for Building Better Relationships During EHR Implementation and Training  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

New software implementations can be a high-stress scenario in the hectic and sometimes change-averse world of healthcare. End users are under pressure to adapt to new resources while continuing to tend to the high-stakes business of patient care. Instilling confidence in users’ ability to make thorough and efficient use of new technology plays a big role in successful tech adoption. Comfort with new tools is particularly important in patient-facing roles like scheduling where staff frustration can negatively influence a patient’s first impression of the facility.

 

As EHR consultants, project managers and trainers, one of our primary goals is to engage and encourage end-users during software transitions. We lead the charge to get projects done on time and under budget without having official authority over team members within the client organization. Throughout my years working as an Epic principal trainer one thing has consistently helped me garner buy-in with project teams: building good relationships.

Good relationships with stakeholders play a pivotal role in maintaining project momentum and getting through the inevitable stress points that arise during implementation. Here are some best practices to keep in mind to put your best foot forward when building relationships with clients and end-users.

Make communication a key priority. Make sure everyone clearly understands the objective of the project and the overall plan up front to set the tone and establish team buy-in. Demonstrate that leadership is on board.

Address team expectations openly and honestly. Clearly define the expectations you have of people involved in the project. Identify and articulate specific deliverables and due dates. Meet on a weekly basis to review plans, get progress updates and identify risks that may have cropped up. Maintain a living document that changes with every meeting.

Encourage team members to take ownership. No one likes a know-it-all. One tactic I use even when I know the answer to a problem is to pose a probing question to the team and let the group come up with the solution themselves. This boosts staff confidence, helps team members feel they are contributing and keeps you from having to micromanage.

Build trust with project staff. Teams want leaders who will act as a voice for end-users. Spend at least a couple of hours with team members each week to get to know them, their pain points and their motivators. Walk throughs offer great opportunities for engagement.

Honor individuality. Don’t expect individuals to change who they are to fit the culture of the team. Some people, for example, work better independently. Recognize that and let them go. Refrain from forcing end users too far out of their comfort zone to avoid unnecessary friction.

Leverage rewards and recognition. Make it a point to celebrate staff accomplishments big and small. Peer recognition can be a strong motivator, but not all people appreciate public acknowledgement. Different rewards work for different people. Find the trigger that works for that individual. Small things like taking people to lunch can help you celebrate achievements and further develop relationships.

Make team participation fun. Humor can help diffuse project resistance and apprehension. Open presentations with a cartoon to bring fun to team meetings. During stressful times, a cartoon slide that acknowledges the pressure staff members may be facing can remind end users that they are not alone.

Invite end user feedback. Feedback loops help project managers and trainers continually get better. All EHR trainers and classes should be evaluated by end-users. This helps reveal improvement opportunities for future client projects.

At the end of the day, EHR training is not about you and how much you know. It is about making sure that users get what they need out of class. Don’t overflood their minds on day one. Demonstrate patience as staff members acclimate. Remember that relationship building and team engagement is a great way to not only share your knowledge but to learn from others as well.

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Adopting Electronic Health Records

Adopting Electronic Health Records | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Solo and small-practice physicians and dentists have had the lowest rate of the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), in which over 50% of physicians who had not adopted an EHR cited financial difficulties as the main reason for not participating in the nation-wide push towards the goals set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA of 2009). Understanding the difficulties for small practices to invest in new technology and to adhere to new standards, the Federal Government set aside billions of dollars to award to physicians and dentists to help them achieve the goal of “interoperability”; which can only be reached if all health care professionals are using certified EHR systems.

 

The EHR Incentive Program is grant-like funding available to help off-set the cost of acquiring a certified EHR. Well over 1.3 billion dollars has already been distributed to physicians, dentists and other eligible professionals that chose to participate in the EHR Incentive Program. Each eligible professional that qualifies and applies for funding through the program receives $21,250 for their first year, and can receive up to $63,750 over the course of the 6-year program.

 

The goal of the EHR Incentive Program is to provide the financial means, especially for small practices, to meet the national goal of interoperability through the use of certified EHRs. Not only is a significant financial benefit offered for qualifying professionals, but EHRs themselves are designed to protect and expand the bottom line. EHRs are specifically designed to save you money and time- which is also money- and to encourage patient health with comprehensive digital records, prevention, drug interaction warnings, appointment reminders via text and e-mail as well as numerous additional benefits of advancing technologies embedded into EHRs.

 

Don’t miss your opportunity to get paid to save money and join the new age of health care. Let EHR Funding see if you qualify for Incentive Funding at no cost.

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A secret shopper’s perspectives on the EHR and clinical workflow 

A secret shopper’s perspectives on the EHR and clinical workflow  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

As someone who has practiced medicine using both paper and electronic records, and someone who's been focused on the health tech scene for the past 20 years, you might think I've seen it all. Indeed, during my 35 year career in medicine and tech I've traveled the world and learned a lot about healthcare, clinical practice and the intersection between medicine and technology. However, there's nothing like being a secret shopper to get a little reality check on where things stand with electronic health records and clinical workflow.

 

For the past couple of months, and likely continuing for most of the next year, I am charged with helping a family member through treatments for an all-too-common medical problem--cancer. That means I am accompanying my family member through diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and eventually medical monitoring and follow-up. Let me tell you, there's nothing like being in the trenches of a patient care experience to see how far we've come, and how far we still need to go to fix healthcare.

The hospital and health system we are visiting uses one the major EHR solutions. However, even within the same institution, departments seem anything but connected. When we have multiple appointments on the same day in different departments, we are still filling out paper forms asking the same questions in every department we visit. Worse yet, even when we make our second or third visits to those departments we are again presented with forms to fill out. Wouldn't it be better to fill out that information on a tablet device or kiosk and make it available to all departments at once? Wouldn't it be better on subsequent visits for us simply to review the information on an electronic screen and edit or update it as needed? Where's the single version of the truth?

 

In the exam room I've noted how much time clinicians and support staff are spending in front of the computer, rather than with the patient. The only doctors not doing this are the super-specialists who foist most of that burden on scribes or other members of their support staff. Furthermore, the computers in the exam rooms are mounted to a wall or sitting on a counter, often forcing the user to have his or her back to the patient. Clinicians must assume a kind of sideways posture with head bobbing back and forth between the machine and the patient. Where are the mobile devices--the laptops, tablets, and smartphones? Has anyone really given a thought to the importance of mobility in clinical workflow?

Then there's the clinical user interface that looks like it came from the dark ages. It took one of our providers about ten minutes just to key in an order for a durable medical supply and print it out for our insurance company. The user interface to the institution's patient-facing portal is equally bad. A web-savvy teenager could likely do better. Today's portals need to look and work more like Facebook or LinkedIn than something from the dawn of the Internet.

Another inefficiency I have observed isn't so much about bad tech as stupid billing mandates. Even when visiting different physicians in different departments on the same day, during each visit staff enter the exam room to take and document vital signs. Over and over again the thermometer and blood pressure come out, even though vital signs were just taken and documented 30 minutes ago in a different department. I finally asked why this was necessary only to be told that unless it is done the physician will not be paid. Has anyone considered what this totally unnecessary and duplicative workflow is costing our hospitals and health systems in wasted staff time? Let's stop the insanity.

By now, I'm sure you are thinking I've grown old and crotchety. I probably have. But please future generations of software developers, EHR vendors, regulators, and others; can't we do better for our clinicians and patients? I'm sure we can.

If you would like to become more familiar with the work Microsoft is doing in health and the healthcare industry (in cloud computing, mobility and devices, productivity and collaboration, and advanced analytics) please contact your account executive or visit Microsoft in Health.

Bill Crounse, MD      Senior Director, Worldwide Health         Microsoft 

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EHR vs EMR: What are the Key Differences?

EHR vs EMR: What are the Key Differences? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Any given industry will tend to develop its own particular vernacular, with inside terms that outsiders typically do not need to understand but are essential for key players to be aware of. Jargon serves to separate professionals from the non-experts and members of the public, and its use also saves time when writing and speaking about various concepts.

A case in point is the healthcare industry, where many people in medical practices have heard the terms “EHR” and “EMR” being bandied about but are not quite sure what they refer to or what the differences are between the two.

The first step in understanding EHR vs EMR is to know that EHR stands for electronic health records and EMR stands for electronic medical records. They are similar applications but have different capabilities that you should become aware of.

 

About Electronic Medical Records

Essentially, EMRs are digital versions of paper charts and are maintained at the doctor’s office. In the early days of digital medical information, clinicians were focused on medical diagnosis and treatment, which explains why they used the term “Medical” in EMR. (By contrast, the “Health” in EHR refers to a patient’s overall health situation and not just medical questions as revealed by diagnosis and lab test results.)

 

Key benefits of an EMR include helping the physicians keep track of data over time and identify which patients need to come in for a checkup, screening, or appointment.

EMRs also help practitioners get a quick glance at the patients’ basic vitals, such as blood pressure and weight. Finally, an EMR enables you to get a better view of the state of the practice and how it is doing in treated patients.

 

However, there are also some disadvantages when it comes to using electronic medical records. For example, you cannot share information about your patients outside of the office.

Consider what happens if you run a family medical practice and you are referring a patient to see a specialist, such as an endocrinologist. Your practice needs to share information with the specialist, but since the EMR is only designed for internal use by one practice, your staff would probably need to print out the patient’s chart and mail it.

 

This means that your EMR files are pretty much the same as paper records at this point. And when the specialist has information to add, the details cannot be transferred back to your EMR without your staff first typing them in from the specialist’s faxed or mailed documentation.

About Electronic Health Records

An EHR contains all of the things an EMR does, but offers much more. EHRs are designed to collect all medical information from all healthcare sources, including multiple physicians, hospitals, and the patient themselves.

Benefits of switching to an EHR system include:

  • Secure when compared to paper records: You can designate specific members of your team to access and change records, as well as conduct audits to detect when people try to gain unauthorized access.

  • Also secure to send and share information with others: The data that you share with other parties, such as a specialist, must be safeguarded so that criminal hackers cannot make off with patient information and commit identity theft and fraud.

  • Important information available in emergencies: The EHR allows patient information to be made present to emergency room doctors immediately with the full medical history and details on any allergies or other issues.

  • Patient portal: A patient portal lets patients enter their own information from the comfort of home using an internet-connected computer, instead of having to fill out stacks of paper forms that your staff will later have to input by hand.

  • Access to advanced tools: An EHR will include tools and various features to help you make better decisions and work more efficiently. For example, you can useanalytics to detect emerging patterns of patient behavior, such as more no-shows to appointments in a certain population or ZIP code.

  • E-prescribing: Electronic versions of traditional prescriptions made by signing a piece of paper from the physician’s Rx pad are more convenient for the doctor, who just needs to transmit the details to the pharmacy. Patients don’t need to wait, since the medicine will be processed while they travel from the doctor’s office.

  • Voice-to-text data entry: Typing in patient details takes longer than speaking. You can activate speech recognition in your EHR to automatically transcribe what the nurse or doctor says, and the text appears on the screen in real time.

  • Reporting: Each report that you need to generate for your practice, such as revenue projections or how many patients have failed to pay their bill after the second notice are much easier to generate, thanks to templates that you customize in the EHR application.

It’s Essential That a Modern Medical Practice Uses Some Form of Electronic Records

Any modern practice needs some form of electronic records. Trying to get by using a paper-based system will simply not do.

What’s more, your practice is eligible to receive financial incentives from Medicare and Medicaid, but only if you are using certified EHR software that allows you to communicate details about patients electronically to insurance providers and public health researchers.

Paper records secured by a mere filing cabinet and a reliance on your staff to only access the details when authorized make for bad business practices in this day and age. With electronic records, you can maintain security by keeping unauthorized individuals from seeing patient information.

 

Electronic records also make for better patient engagement, especially when you consider how much time they save in the clinical setting, allowing your nurses and doctors to spend more time on treatment and less time on record keeping.

A patient portal activated in your electronic records will further boost engagement, since patients can access the system to check on things such as lab results, request an appointment, or send a message to a member of your staff. The more engaged patients are, the better chance you have of retaining them for the long term.

Key Takeaway

  • For professionals working in the healthcare industry, it’s good to have an understanding of EHR vs EMR.
  • EHR stands for Electronic Health Records.
  • EMR stands for Electronic Medical Records.
  • While EHR and EMR might seem to be referring to the same thing, an EHR is more flexible, because it lets you gather information from multiple sources while an EMR only handles local data.
  • Any medical practice that is still relying on antiquated systems based on paper to keep track of patient records will need to upgrade to some form of electronic records in order to remain competitive.
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Why does EHR customization Matter?

Why does EHR customization Matter? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

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

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

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

 

Your Practice, Your EHR

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

 

The Impact of EHR Customization

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

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

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

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

 

Configuring the Best EHR

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

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

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Decoding Meaningful Use For Your EHR System 

Decoding Meaningful Use For Your EHR System  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

During EHR implementation, it can become confusing to successfully navigate federal and locally-mandated requirements for regulations concerning HIPAA and Meaningful Use. For many healthcare practices, Meaningful Use attestation has become less of a collaboration in good patient care, and more of a headache – but it doesn’t have to be.

Decoding Meaningful Use and understanding its requirements will not only improve implementation and optimization of an electronic health records system, but it will also result in improved clinical processes, and ultimately, better patient outcomes.

 

What is Meaningful Use?

Back in 2009, Meaningful Use was developed by the federal government as a way to regulate electronic health records systems, and ensure that providers are on track to make the most out of those systems. Their incentive programs for Medicare & Medicaid generated incredible interest, and within just a few years, had captured most of the US industry. Last year, the ONC reported that of Critical Access and other eligible hospitals, 95 percent had demonstrated Meaningful Use. Meanwhile, according to CMS, over half a million providers had received over $25 billion in federal payments through the Medicare & Medicaid incentive programs as of this summer.

But this brings up an important question: just who benefits from Meaningful Use? The answer is encouraging. When employed properly, Meaningful Use benefits everybody. Providers and their staff benefit from improved clinical processes, billing and insurance parties benefit from standardization, and patients benefit from better care.

 

Understanding Meaningful Use Incentive Programs

The role of federal incentives is simply to encourage providers to adhere to Meaningful Use requirements through certified EHR systems. Finding vendors that provide certified EHR technology is critical to qualifying for these incentive programs, which have to-date paid tens of billions to providers who have successfully met the requirements of the incentive programs. Not only are these programs designed to improve health outcomes through compliance with important measures, but also encourage certified EHR adoption through effectively lowering the cost of EHR implementation for healthcare organizations.

 

The Future of Meaningful Use and EHRs

Each year, CMS and the ONC release new updates for Meaningful Use. Currently, the incentive programs have been widely successful, with over 500,000 medical practices having attested for Meaningful Use as of this year. And moving forward, there is still a great deal of opportunity for benefit to both providers and their patients.

There will still be significant pressure from the federal government to achieve even more universal adherence to Meaningful Use. Many of the most ambitious goals of the program can only be achieved through near-universal participation including those regarding information exchange. For Medicaid, 2016 represents the final year of beginning participation in the incentive program. And while CMS’ final rule published in 2015 extended through to 2017, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has already begun constructing their 2017 requirements.

Successfully attesting for Meaningful Use isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s crucial to find an EHR vendor that is ready to support you and your practice every step of the way towards successful implementation.

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Your nurses may hate your hospital’s EHR: Here’s why

Your nurses may hate your hospital’s EHR: Here’s why | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

While most talk about electronic health record (EHR) systems has centered on doctors’ troubles with adapting to them, hospital nurses are also having major difficulties with EHRs.

 

A new survey highlights just how frustrated nurses are with most hospitals’ EHR systems. Ninety-two percent of nurses are currently dissatisfied with their hospital’s EHR, according to the Q3 2014 Black Book EHR Loyalty survey.

The survey polled almost 14,000 RNs from across the country who all used hospital EHRs in the past six months, and participants had mostly negative things to say about their facility’s systems.

Most nurses said their hospitals’ EHR systems contributed to lower productivity and workflow disruptions affecting the quality of patient care. And 85% of nurses said they continually struggle with their facility’s flawed EHR.

Reasons for frustration

Communication issues are a major contributor to why nurses aren’t happy with hospital EHRs. Ninety percent of nurses surveyed said their hospital’s EHR negatively affects communication between nurses and patients, and 94% thought it hurt communication between nurses and other clinical staff, including doctors and pharmacists.

Some of the communication problems between nurses and other medical staff come from a lack of consistency when it comes to documentation in the system. Only about half the nurses working in large hospitals with more than 100 beds said that all clinical staff access and document patient info on the same EHR screens.

Because everyone accesses patient info differently, there’s more room for confusion and miscommunication when it comes to patient care.

Another big problem for nurses is a lack of IT resources, which can cause delays in entering information in a patient’s EHR. In fact, 91% of nurses in for-profit facilities said they had difficulty even locating an available EHR workstation during their shift.

The survey also showed many hospitals are lacking when it comes to troubleshooting EHR problems. Less than a third of nurses said that their IT departments or administrators responded quickly when nurses pointed out EHR vulnerabilities in documentation.

Rather than solve their problems, many nurses are just given temporary workarounds, and that makes them more frustrated with the system. Almost 70% of nurses surveyed have been told to use workarounds with their facility’s EHR.

Heading off problems

Not only can these issues compromise the quality of care your hospital provides, they can also cause issues with retention and recruitment for nurses. Several nurses surveyed indicated they were currently looking for new jobs, and for close to 80% of these nurses, the reputation of a specific hospital’s EHR is one of the top three factors that determine whether they’d accept a position at a facility.

So it’s clear: Your nurses’ needs should be considered when selecting or upgrading an EHR. This is why it’s key to include representation from your nursing staff throughout the process.

Nurses spend most of their time directly interacting with patients – possibly even more than your doctors. So it’s important for nurses to be able to accurately and effectively document vital signs and other key medical info in patients’ health records. Getting their feedback about what should be included in an EHR system will improve their efficiency and the quality of care they provide.

Besides getting input from nurses about your EHR – and implementing their suggestions – it’s also important to make sure they have easy access to the technology required to use the system.

One suggestion: Instead of limiting nurses to a few EHR workstations, consider allowing them to access the system using secure handheld electronic devices, such as tablets. This could help them enter clinical information into patients’ records faster, boosting productivity and reducing frustration.

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What does practice leadership have to do with an EHR system?

What does practice leadership have to do with an EHR system? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Like any practice-wide implementation, a successful electronic health system relies on leadership and coordination. Because an EHR system impacts an entire practice, an effective leadership team should comprise a number of individuals from practice administration to physicians, to nurses or technicians, to billing, and more, depending on the size of the practice.

This leadership team is key for a successful EHR implementation, along with one critical decision-making individual who is capable of leading that team.

 

Who makes the EHR Decisions?

Determining the configuration of an EHR system is no small task.While effective leadership in EHR design requires confident decision making from a focused individual, EHR decisions should be influenced by other players in the practice and their workflow needs, highlighting the importance of a leadership team as described above. Individual doctors, for example, are a critical source of valuable information for the EHR decision-making process, as their needs and challenges in an electronic system impact the entire practice.

 

Leadership in EHR Systems

The transition to electronic records in healthcare has witnessed challenges of adoption and usability, many of which are still common today. Whether implementing a new EHR system for a small practice or a large group, common complaints from providers or staff include feeling mandated to use a system that perhaps they do not enjoy using, or that they themselves would have configured differently.

Other common complaints include the concept that EHR operations are not part of a physician’s job, for instance, and that data management tasks should be allocated to specific data specialists or data entry clerks. These sentiments may lead providers to disperse EHR system tasks down to nurses, technicians, and other staff, leading to productivity bottlenecks and increased frustration.

EHR leadership helps to address these and many other challenges. Consolidating decision making to this team can minimize time and costs, and also improve the overall quality of data captured in the electronic records with standardized use.

 

Ways to Calm the Storm

Fortunately, there are methods of EHR implementation that create fair and realistic expectations for providers and staff in a medical practice.

  • Customization

One of the best ways to prevent issues stemming from frustration is to configure a custom EHR tailored to the specific needs of an individual practice. Customization can improve reception and adoption of a records system, leading to effective use.

  • Training

Training is critical for a successful EHR system implementation. Some of the many decisions for the EHR leadership team are training providers and staff on the new system, deciding who will provide this training, and assigning individuals as points of contact for questions.

  • Leadership

While an EHR leadership team should be equipped to address individual challenges as they arise, it is critical for this team and the leading individual to keep in mind “big picture” goals and management. Patient outcomes, best practices, “meaningful use,” and other practice-wide goals should always be part of the leadership team’s considerations throughout a new system implementation.

Designing a consolidated EHR takes leadership. Keeping the goals, challenges, and needs of the practice as a whole in mind, while also addressing the concerns of individuals throughout the practice’s workflow, requires thoughtful management and guidance.

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5 Signs You Need EMR Consulting Services

5 Signs You Need EMR Consulting Services | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Let’s face it, medical records can be frustrating. Between keeping up with new information and making sure that things are orderly, it’s a tough task.

Thankfully, you can get some help. EMR consulting can make your medical facility run smoother than ever!

Ready to learn more? Keep reading for some telltale signs that it’s time to look into an EMR service.

1. It Takes Too Long to Find a Patient’s Medical Records

Let’s face it, the old pen and paper format just isn’t as effective as it once was. These days we have the cloud and all sorts of EMR consulting services that make finding records easy.

And in the medical field, time is of the essence. Every second you waste looking for a patient’s records is a second that could be spent with the patient.

You’ll also lose money due to basic logistics and time management issues. Using an EMR service is just more cost efficient.

2. You’re Looking to Boost Your HIPAA Compliance

You already know that it’s critical that your medical facility complies with HIPAA. But by switching to an EMR system, you’ll make things far easier on yourself.

Under HIPAA, each and every patient is afforded a few things:

  • A copy of their medical records
  • The correction of any mistakes on their form
  • Specific information on how and with whom their medical history is shared

Take a moment to think about how difficult all of that could be with paper correspondence. By contracting an EMR consulting service, your patient will have easy access to their pertinent info.

Best of all, you’ll have backups of your files in case something goes wrong.

3. Your Current Records System Is Uncoordinated and Messy

Of course, there’s always a chance that your current MR system is a bit of a bust. Whether you’re using paper or electronic services, you’ll want to make sure that organization is a priority.

With the right product, there’s little to no room for error. Best of all, you’ll have access to all sorts of analytics.

So when the patient comes in for a visit, you’ll have tons of hard data that you can use to better inform your care.

Give yourself and your staff a break. Get in touch with EMR consulting services and watch productivity go through the roof.

4. You’ll Have Support When Things go Wrong

One of the best reasons to invest in EMR consulting is the support it offers. Most companies, such as ourselves, offer a robust support service. With more than 25 years’ experience in the health informatics industry, CIS understands that a system is only as good as the efforts lifting it to success.

Leave the technical details to someone else, you and your team already have enough on your plates. When something goes wrong, don’t hesitate to seek support.

In the case of an emergency, our staff is ready to help at a moment’s notice.

5. You Need an Easier Way to Access Medical Records

Perhaps the biggest reason to invest in an EMR service is due to the sheer convenience it offers. No more clipboards and shuffled papers; today’s technology allows for a more streamlined and organized system, with information available at the touch of a button.

Believe it or not, all you really need is your phone, a tablet, or a smartwatch.

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EHR Adoption: Benefits and Challenges

EHR Adoption: Benefits and Challenges | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are rapidly becoming an integral component of any efficient healthcare system.  Professional doctors and hospitals are required to demonstrate the meaningful use of certified electronic medical records. Meaningful use criteria in this regard refers to capturing electronic health information in a standardized format, using this information to track key clinical conditions, putting in place a care coordination process, report clinical quality measures and public health information and to use this information to engage with patients and their families. More sophisticated systems would also have the capability of enabling health information exchange, incorporating lab results, e-prescribing, transmit patient care summaries across multiple settings, provide patients access to self-management tools and improve the overall population health.  

 

Approximately, 78.4% of office-based physicians use EHR systems while 48.1% of those work with a basic level EHR system. According to findings of a patient experience survey with EHR systems, it was reported that physicians with EHR systems that meet meaningful use criteria felt that it provided time savings and resulted in enhanced confidentiality and less disruption in doctor-patient interactions. In addition, properly implemented EHR systems also provided greater financial and clinical benefits as compared to basic systems.

 

It is important to remember that electronic health record systems are not a novelty. In one form or another, healthcare providers have been using EHRs for many decades. In the past, doctors used standalone workstations to store patient data. However, with advancement in information technology, data storage as moved to the cloud and has become more efficient, portable and rapidly transferable.  

Benefits

EHR systems have made the healthcare system more efficient in following ways:

 

−    Ability to transfer medical records across geographic borders, to another hospital or department. This enables access to complete and accurate information at the point of care.

−    Help improves patient management and engagement. With just a few clicks providers can not only access patient medical records anytime and anywhere but also coordinate care with their peers to improve the quality of care delivered.

−  Lower operational costs with less labor expense to maintain paper records and reduced need for transcription services. Once a medical record has been added in electronic format, it requires almost no management which directly impacts operational cost.

−   Safer and reliable workflows with EHRs to enable e-prescribing, laboratory, and X-RAY ordering and reporting. An efficient EHR-based workflow can reduce chances of error and eliminate lost records to deliver effective and safer care.

−  Enabled Increased patient engagement between patient and providers. Electronic records allow patients to participate in their own care and let provider-patient to work on delivering better patient care collectively.

Challenges

Even with these benefits, implementation of EHR systems has proven to be a significant challenge for healthcare organizations.

 

−  EHR adoption substantially increases the effort needed to manage the privacy and protection of the patient records. Over the years,  there have been numerous incidents of security breaches and stolen patient health information. Although, healthcare organizations invest heavily in creating secure and compliant solutions but securing and managing connected electronic records is a dynamic process and requires constant monitoring and auditing to track down threats and flaws before they happen.

−   Higher start-up and maintenance cost of transitioning to electronic medical records – larger the organization, greater the cost. Resource training, culture change, new workflows adoption and constant need for support make EHR adoption an intimidating task for any organization.  The higher start-up costs for smaller practices make it difficult for them to recoup.

−    Delivering education & continuous training on the usage of the EHR is another challenge faced by organizations. Healthcare staff needs to be trained for compliance, maintenance, confidentiality, and various workflows on effective use of the system. Without a proper training program, user do not understand the system completely which directly impacts the quality of care.

−   Perceived depersonalization of provider and patient relationship as providers feel that they are spending more time interacting with the computer than with the patient.

−   Extensive data capturing hampers the clinical workflows of physician. Not only data entry is both cumbersome and time-consuming but providers are also put-off by UI/UX to manage  their workflows. Although keeping everything electronic gives them an ability to remain connected to their patients but unnecessary alerts and notifications also create an alert fatigue on both patient and provider side.

 

While the general dissatisfaction remains with adoption of EHRs, the fact remains that addressing above mentioned challenges as per your organizational goals can definitely lead  better, coordinated and cost-effective care.

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The Limits on Healthcare Learning From the Business World 

The Limits on Healthcare Learning From the Business World  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

A favorite criticism of EHRs is that they are glorified billing platforms, rather than clinical tools.

 

Despite being sold to — and subsequently, by — the federal government as being healthcare’s ticket into the modern age, and to leveraging big data, EHRs haven’t so far facilitated the kinds of analytics initially touted as the new standard in medicine.

 

Part of the shortfall in realizing the potential of EHRs may be fairly ascribed to overselling; new technology and new applications of existing technology tantalize imaginations. In an industry with as many challenges and problems to solve as healthcare, it is understandable that advocates got carried away with silver bullet thinking about EHRs and let development and implementation — not to mention security — fall behind.

 

But part of the problem is also an overextension of the analogy that what works for the business world, ought to also work for healthcare. Even outside of EHRs and questions of technology, the assertion that business leaders, models, systems, and tools have pedagogical value for healthcare leaders, and practical value for clinics, has become so popular that for many it sounds indistinguishable from conventional wisdom

That may have its merits, but the reality (all too familiar for those actually working in healthcare) is that business lessons very often don’t apply to the health sector.

 

Are EHRs Failing to Deliver Analytics?

When big data doesn’t work, it isn’t necessarily a failure of information, but a user error; a failure to properly organize information, or to ask the right questions of that information. In other words, big data doesn’t just happen by virtue of keeping digital records or even hiring data scientists to get things in order. There has to be a compelling use case, a specific goal associated with the data to turn raw information into something actionable. This is where business and healthcare diverge most dramatically.

The business use case for big data is, first and foremost, about competition. A forensic look at marketing initiatives, supply chains, tax planning, even compensation, all serves to make businesses more lean, more efficient, more profitable, and ultimately, more resilient in the face of stiff competition. McDonald’s managed it before “big data” was a buzzword, by simplifying its menu and streamlining its kitchen. Today, it is synonymous with “fast food” not because it is holistically the best, but because it led the pack in turning analysis into a competitive advantage. And it continues to use technology, analytics, and big data to further hone everything from sandwich assembly to locating new franchises around the world.

 

It should hardly require saying so, but healthcare has no McDonald’s model to follow.

 

Healthcare data analytics — carried on the backs of EHRs — are not necessarily intended to support competitive improvements or advantages. By and large, major clinics and hospitals have a virtual monopoly, if not geographically, then often in terms of insurance networks, or both. So the idea that competition drives innovation, optimization, or introspection is a non-starter.

 

The Profit Motive

Businesses are looking for improvement opportunities not just to aid the bottom line, but to boost profitability. The majority of clinics in the United States are, at least on paper, nonprofits (or government-operated). So in these hospitals, that “bottom line” under scrutiny by CEOs and data scientists often has more to do with volume, sustainability of operations, and especially coordinating with insurers in order to remain solvent.

Big data in business enables corporations to minimize the costs of their own operations, and to pass on some measure of savings to customers. That boosts profitability not just by making the cost of business lower, but by incenting consumers to buy more, or at least, to elect to buy from the optimized company. Everyone along the supply chain is looking for the best, for the least.

 

Healthcare is never so straightforward. Prices are hopelessly opaque in healthcare, and the relationship between the many stakeholders along the supply chain — from universities to providers, clinics to insurers, consumers to pharmaceutical companies — is all but impossible to optimize because there are so many different motives, inputs, and contradictions involved. People are looking for the best, but seldom have any way to judge quality, or have no access to competitive alternatives, or to balance quality with cost, or to hold anyone along the way accountable for quality or, for that matter, setting prices.

 

What this all amounts to is a limitation on the ability of healthcare organizations to make use of their data in the same way their business sector counterparts have been doing with any hope for success, insight, or actionable conclusions. That the finances of free market corporations and health systems are different is itself not an especially novel observation, but the fundamental difference of motivation extends further than price-setting and value-shopping.

 

Optimizing for Engagement

Although broadly similar, and often looked for in the data, the effect of “engagement” in a normal business setting is critically different from the sort of engagement providers and health systems are trying to achieve with patients.

 

Engagement in marketing is a matter of driving conversions; the more consumers hang out on your site or are exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to convert to buyers. This kind of engagement takes shape as funnel: get the widest possible audience to begin engaging, then optimize every node, webpage, or conversation to drive them all toward one destination: purchase.

In the business world, you see this driven by big data in the form of things like A/B testing to maximize webpage performance. Optimizing ecommerce or brand websites, targeting marketing messages, streamlining design for user experience and ease of navigation — it all funnels down to that old bottom line. When a given consumer’s experience seamlessly and pleasantly flows from landing on a website to buying a product or service, the engagement effort has worked. Engagement for business, in other words, is discrete.

 

Engagement in healthcare has a very different connotation, with extremely different end goals: engagement is about adherence, first and foremost. Getting patients engaged with their care is a function not of encouraging brand loyalty or making a sale, but of trying to optimize the value of the care they have already received. In other words, engagement after the sale is more important than leading up to the sale, because what happens after a visit to the hospital can be more critical to patient health than the limited encounter they have with providers.

 

In medicine, engagement is continuous, and more a matter of perpetual relationship-building, of exchanging feedback, than of driving everyone to one universal outcome. Individual patient health goals are unique; sales goals are easily generalized. A/B testing a patient portal may help improve general user experience, but the substance of a patient’s chart, or conversation with a provider, can’t be optimized the same way a product page can. While a specific retailer or brand can optimize experiences to their specific consumer demographic, healthcare organizations have the impossible challenge of optimizing all patient engagement pathways to anyone and everyone who needs medical attention.

 

Redesigning Health Data

The other example of A/B testing in healthcare, of course, is the control study for medications, new procedures, or determining best practices. This is where the real value, the maximum return on investment, from adopting EHRs should be sought. The big data EHRs deliver can only do so much to highlight wasted revenue, inefficiencies, or optimized patient experiences in the sense that the business world so often makes use of. But outside of the profit motive, or of engaging consumers to make a sale, big data in healthcare can begin to reveal population trends, problems with current standards, pathways of disease, and where health resources are needed most.

 

The best use case for data in healthcare is not a matter of competition as it is in the business world. It is a matter of learning, of monitoring populations not to take advantage of trends, but to anticipate and prevent disaster or outbreaks. The best use of the data is not presenting it to leadership or business-minded members of the C-suite, but making it accessible to the academic community, to researchers and scientists who can turn it into a competitive advantage against death and disease, rather than the marketplace.

 

Achieving this takes standardization, interoperability, and some amount of relief for providers feeling taxed by the need to play data scientist and doctor at the same time. All easier said than done; what’s worse, interoperability among legitimate and authorized users is lagging behind security failures and vulnerabilities across the healthcare industry. But progress can start with recognizing that EHRs don’t need more help from the business world to fulfill their promise. EHRs, like scalpels or stethoscopes, don’t belong in the boardroom, and their use and design is best left not to administrative types, but to medical professionals.

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EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Health Management 

EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Health Management  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In the quest to meet value-based care, population health and quality reporting goals, healthcare leaders face an array of avenues and tactics. While the strategies differ, one constant in virtually all efforts to bring structure to new care delivery models is the improved use of technology and systems, and the troves of data they store and transmit.

 

Analytics has a pivotal role in meeting healthcare’s triple aim of reducing the per capita cost of care, improving patient experience (including quality and satisfaction) and improving population health. Without the support of the clinicians using these technologies and the information they hold, however, it is difficult to succeed. This has prompted some healthcare organizations to champion a quadruple aim that also seeks to improve the work life of healthcare providers.

 

To develop and execute on a quadruple – or even triple aim – healthcare leadership teams must answer the question:

How can our organization capture the information needed to deliver effective, data-driven care in a manner that benefits patient outcomes and compliments provider workflows?

Through a disciplined EHR optimization methodology, a structured plan, and input from providers and clinicians on goals and practical ways to meet those goals, it is possible to adopt a data-capture care strategy that minimizes impact on provider workflow while maximizing return on reimbursement.

 

Optimization in Action
Consider how EHR Optimization can aid population health management efforts.

 

Many healthcare organizations are analyzing patient data to identify high-risk and/or high-utilization patient populations that could pose savings opportunities if their care interventions are migrated from high-cost emergency department and inpatient settings to preventive and primary care, but how many are truly looking up-stream at how the configuration and use of the EHR impacts their success?

 

When developing and deploying an organization’s population health goals and identifying target patient populations, consider how your organization can engage and support your clinicians in this evolution. What clinical workflow supportive functionality is available in your EHR to aid and prompt care team members to ask the right patients the right questions, proactively screen, and implement low-cost interventions to quickly put population health management into action?  How can these opportunities be implemented without disruption of patient care flow?

 

Here are specific strategies for building an EHR Optimization plan targeted toward enabling population health while supporting your providers:

  • Engage your clinicians early on. Including your providers and allowing them to tell you how they work and what will work for them to support your effort makes a successful initiative.
  • Integrate with established workflows when possible. Data entered correctly into your EHR supports your analytics needs. You will depend upon your providers to capture this for you.
  • Prioritize your target patient populations. Which initiatives will yield the highest return? Start with a single impactful goal and fine tune processes, measurement and engagement around it.
  • Ensure consistency in design. Provide consistency in data standards and naming conventions. This can go a long way to eliminate redundancy in documentation for clinicians. This is particularly important when planning to expand your program

EHRs and supporting technologies are an incredible data source and the key to value-based care and population health management success. EHR implementation and optimization strategies that keep the quadruple-aim top-of-mind can support organizational initiatives while enhancing, or at very least not burdening, clinical workflows of your EHR users.  Engaging your end users in the process inspires a collaborative, supportive environment while encouraging a successful outcome to organizational directives.

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Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices 

Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Human lives depend on how well a healthcare organization manages its EHR integration of medical devices.

As the assigned project manager spearheading numerous large health system enterprise-wise medical device integration programs for over a decade, I’ve learned an essential lesson about EHR integration of medical devices.

Data captured from thousands of heart monitors, ventilators, balloon pumps, and other bedside devices must be perfectly managed, seamlessly integrated, and standardized to each patient’s electronic health record (EHR) and then made accessible to multiple providers. Once synced properly across the care continuum, connected medical devices play a critical role in the transfer of near real-time, reliable data to EHRs that improve both the safety and quality of patient care.

Otherwise, failing to do so can prove fatal.

Lessons borne out of experience

My role in bringing together clinicians, IT experts and device vendor representatives is to achieve that goal through flawless organization of precise integration methods and over-communication. Sharing information among these three teams is paramount to our success — that is, we’re managing vital data used by physicians and nurses as analytics in making life-changing medical decisions as quickly as possible.

Additionally, I have learned other valuable lessons about EHR integration of medical devices.

Start with a clean inventory list of biomedical devices and equipment planned for the device integration project. This list should comprise the number counts of all devices and supporting equipment including firmware versions and serial ports in addition to Ethernet gateway connections.

At the project’s onset evaluate and identify devices lacking the capability to integrate. Identify older firmware versions and research feasibility of cost to update as opposed to replacement.

Conduct walkthroughs on clinical rounds to determine data points for integration in order to identify network cabling and power needs. At that time, initiate engaging device vendors and setting clear deadlines and key parameters for the EHR integration.

Ensure middleware vendors partnering with the medical facilities supply all security-related product information upfront.

Invite middleware vendors to an onsite visit to determine exactly how much hardware is needed to ensure connectivity with other devices. Also include them in weekly or biweekly team update meetings. They are oftentimes overlooked.

Be adaptable and versatile to make quick adjustments while also striving to deliver impeccable results. Since workflows are not usually established upfront, responsibilities get shuffled around and integration details quickly become overwhelming.

Find creative ways to facilitate communication among the different team members. For example, assign color-coded status levels — green, yellow and red — to flag a change in project progression to speed up problem resolution. When senior management tackles red status issues as a group, expect people to pay attention!

Organization translates to project acceleration

Finally, organization of every integration detail is imperative. Associated device hardware, such as installing mounting hardware and new monitors in each patient room, must be managed. Biomedical managers, hospital IT groups, and clinical administrators must work concurrently to coordinate every step. In my experience, managing all of these different teams is by far the most challenging aspect of device integration.

Our healthcare ecosystem is slowly but surely modernizing, and we must leverage our technologies every possible way to maximize delivery of patient care to improve outcomes and the patient-provider experience. Ultimately, the success of any enterprise-wide EHR integration of medical devices is founded on strong communication and organization in addition to data management.

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EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage 

EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

During EHR implementations, trainers are frequently the first to introduce end-users to the new technology. Users often come to EHR training frustrated about the change and nervous about acclimating to a new system. Adding to the pressure they feel, EHR training may only entail a one-time training class that delivers an immense amount of information in a short period of time—unless the healthcare organization offers on-site interim training opportunities, users often never touch the EHR again until after go-live. Under those circumstances, trainee resistance and fear are understandable.

What I’ve discovered in my years as a trainer is that successful EHR adoption is not just about the technical training. The biggest part of my job is to give end-users encouragement and confidence that they will be able to adapt to the EHR even though they may forget some of what is taught during training. People learn the best when they feel personally engaged and know that the trainer cares about them. Trainers play a key role in promoting not only technical EHR know-how, but cultural buy-in.

Given the right training environment, EHR trainers can help healthcare organizations diffuse negativity and push-back while bringing end-users up to speed on new EHR workflows. A trainer’s ability to successfully empower users truly does come down to training delivery. Here are some of the best practices that I’ve cultivated over the years to help maximize staff acceptance of the EHR.

Little things matter when creating a welcoming learning environment. When EHR users come to class, stand by the door and greet them. Smile, ask trainees their name and introduce yourself. Don’t just sit behind the desk. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile to make people feel comfortable. Remind trainees that you are there as a resource for them.

Address end-user frustrations head-on. As part of class introductions, ask trainees to comment on how they are feeling about the EHR migration. If necessary, purge EHR transition angst and negativity by letting users briefly share how they feel at the very beginning of class. After that catharsis, implement a strict “no complaining” policy and start working to shift end-user thought patterns. I encourage users to change their internal talk track from one of resistance to one of acceptance.

Employ compassion and empathy to understand where end-users are coming from. Trainees may come to class with feelings of nervousness, fear and anxiety. This is particularly true among non-computer natives, who are pervasive in healthcare. I like to share my personal story of being hired to be a trainer based on my background as a speaker and a nurse, and having to learn the technical aspects of training along the way. Shared experience and understanding go a long way in establishing rapport.

Build a sense of safety and community among end-users. To avoid trainee feelings of inadequacy, I offer patience to those in the class and work to foster a growth mindset. In peer training settings, clinicians often feel they are expected to know everything. Actively work to make end-users feel comfortable asking questions. Remind them that just because they don’t know something yet does not mean they can’t learn it.

Create a different training environment than people expect. Infusing unanticipated elements into the training program can make it more memorable. I like to bring laughter to the training program because if people are laughing, they are learning. Humor can help diffuse tension and put people at ease.

Always opt for words of encouragement. Remind EHR trainees that they can all do it and they will succeed, regardless of age or technical aptitude. Point out that people often learn the same thing in very different ways and warn against comparing one’s learning speed to that of others. All end-users will inevitably forget a portion of what is covered in training but, with the right mindset, they will be able to learn it again.

I can’t say enough about the need for words of affirmation in healthcare. A lot is expected of staff members during an EHR implementation. The stress of training while managing the day-to-day work of patient engagement can be overwhelming. If nothing else, give them hope. We all feel the strain of change in healthcare and we could all use an encouraging word!

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Philips Launches EHR-Integrated Patient Monitoring Solution for Clinicians

Philips Launches EHR-Integrated Patient Monitoring Solution for Clinicians | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Philips has announced the launch of their next-generation Patient Monitoring solution, an enterprise-wide system that consists of bedside, transport, mobile and central station monitoring technology backed by a new approach of consulting, training, service and customer support.

Helping Clinicians Improve Patient Care

When patients are admitted to the hospital, they are frequently transferred between departments, which can make it difficult for clinicians to obtain complete data from monitoring systems that operate independently of one another. Incomplete data not only limits clinicians’ view into the patient’s condition, but can put a patient’s safety at risk. In a recent Philips-sponsored study, results revealed patient safety is still a top concern for physician and nurse leaders in the U.S.

In an effort to alleviate this concern, Philips designed this solution to help clinicians improve patient care, drive clinical performance and assist health systems in lowering costs, by harmonizing monitoring system updates and improved service agreements.

IntelliVue X3 Patient Monitor

The IntelliVue X3 is a highly portable, dual-purpose monitor with intuitive smart-phone-style operation. With this monitor, there is no need for caregivers to change patient cables during transport or at bedside, allowing them to spend less time dealing with equipment and more time caring for the patient. With alarm fatigue a top concern for healthcare professionals, the Patient Monitoring solution also includes IntelliVue bedside monitors with Alarm Advisor, a tool that tracks how clinicians respond to alarms and alerts them when set thresholds may be too sensitive.

EHR-Integrated Patient Monitoring

As a comprehensive system, the Patient Monitoring solution captures a steady stream of detailed patient data from monitors and medical devices, and feeds it securely to the hospital’s EMR for virtually gap-free patient records from admission to discharge, even during transport. The integrated solution fits securely into health systems’ existing IT environment, delivering vital signs, waveforms and alarms directly to caregivers.

By incorporating these clinical decision support tools and advanced algorithms, caregivers have better visibility into a patient’s changing condition. All Philips bedside, transport, and mobile monitors share the same look, feel, and interface for consistency and to reduce complexity, accelerate care, making it easier for clinicians to provide the best quality care throughout patients’ transports around the hospital.

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Medical billing software VS Electronic Health Record

Medical billing software VS Electronic Health Record | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Many EHR vendors are offering billing services as well and this tend to confuse many of the difference between an EHR and medical billing software. In order to improve their usability and functionality, many medical billing and EHR software systems are designed to have overlapping features. The main idea behind this all is to offer a “one-stop-solution” to a medical practice. This leads to people using medical billing software and EMR for reasons they are not developed for.

 

So, an EHR is a single, comprehensive solution that helps doctors achieve Meaningful Use by offering features such as patient scheduling, appointment reminders, diagnosis/treatments/procedures, patient information and history, clinical notes, medication/ drug allergies/prescription, e-prescribing, scans and reports, clinical decision support, electronically available results, patient education resources and full-fledged medical billing programs, all in a single software.

 

Specialized medical billing software is specifically programmed to keep and maintain comprehensive records of examinations, procedures, tests, diagnoses and treatments that are conducted on patients.

 

The software then combines all this medical information with patient’s policy details and formulates a complete medical record that is utilized to generate bills. Medical billing and coding software is also integrated in many such software to seamlessly and accurately handle all complex processes. They also cater to correspondence involved in medical billing.

 

So it all comes down to this. While features of an EHR are primarily focused on clinical functions, records and outcomes, specialized medical billing software focuses on a practice’s billing-related administrative and financial processes and medical billing procedures.

 
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9 Best Practices For Choosing EMR Software 

9 Best Practices For Choosing EMR Software  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Selecting an electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) for your medical practice is a challenging, but very important task. Purchasing and installing a new EMR system require a lot of research and time. The best EMR software for your practice will fit in with your practice’s workflow and increase efficiency, but a bad EMR will halt your workflow and cause frustrations.

The following best practices should be considered before selecting and implementing a new system, to ensure you select the best EMR for your practice. 

1. Create a list of requirements.

Make a list of EMR software requirements based on the needs of your practice. This list may include the need for e-Prescribing software, automatic billing, scheduling features, and others. Also map out your ideal practice workflow and usual patient visit flow to determine how potential EMR software could complement your workflow instead of hindering it.

It is important to involve all the physicians and staff in your office in the development of this list, ensuring that all aspects of the practice have been considered. However, a physician should be in charge of the decision, not the back-office or IT staff. This decision requires leadership and an understanding of the medical requirements.

2. Analyze your budget.

Purchasing and integrating an EMR system into your practice workflow can be costly. However, the benefits of EMR systems can be worth the financial investment and may even help your practice save money in the long run. Besides the initial EHR / EMR costs, there are hardware, implementation, training, and maintenance costs to consider when purchasing a new system. Find our more about what EMR costs you can expect with a new EMR system.

3. Only consider specialty-specific EMR systems.

EMR software that is designed for your particular specialty is customized to deal with the unique characteristics associated with your specialty. The customization includes specialty-specific features and templates. It is crucial that you only consider software that is designed for your specialty, not software that you need to make adjustments to in order to use. This will help your practice workflow tremendously.

4. Systems architecture.

There are many factors of the EMR system to consider, including the system architecture of the software: web-based or client/server. One type of system architecture is not better than the other, however, one may be better for your particular practice. When choosing EMR software, you will need to decide which type of system architecture is best suited for the needs of your practice and will complement your workflow. Read more about web-based vs client/server EMR.

5. Ensure the EMR System has been certified

Any EMR system you are considering for your practice should be tested and certified by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”). The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) is the responsible agency for establishing EMR certification standards and certifying vendor EMR products. ONC-ATCB certification assures that your EMR has met required Meaningful Use (“MU”) objectives and measures. This is a prerequisite to obtaining MU Medicaid (up to $63,750) and Medicare (up to $44,000) incentives for adopting an EMR, and avoiding penalties for not adopting one.

6. Get advice from other physicians and staff.

The best way to understand how an EMR system will fit in with a practice’s workflow is to witness it first hand. You may want to visit a practice that currently using the EMR software you are considering implementing. Talk to physicians and the staff about the EMR software to find out if the software would be suited to your practice and what issues you may face with usage or installation.

7. Decide how much support you will require.

Most vendors will offer 24/7 support, but you need to make sure you understand what sort of support you will be receiving. You may need nighttime or weekend support if your practice is open beyond normal office hours. You may also need on-site help instead of help from a call center. Lastly, understand the extent of the support you will be receiving. Instead of just technical assistance, you may want additional assistance installing new features and upgrades, and fixing bugs. Be sure to ask these questions before purchasing from a particular EMR vendors.

8. Have a lawyer review the purchase agreement.

Since purchasing an EMR software is a big commitment, have an attorney review the purchase agreement to make sure the software is what was promised and includes the right features. Also be sure you understand all the costs and additional fees associated with the EMR software purchase.

9.  Spend time installing the EMR system.

Transitioning to electronic medical records takes a lot of time, so do not underestimate the time and effort you will need to put in. Apart from installing new hardware and software, you will also need to manually scan or input existing paper records into the system. Be prepared to hire additional help during this process, as it can be time-consuming and disruptive to your workflow. It is also recommended that physicians schedule fewer appointments during the transition time.

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Essential Questions for Picking EHR Patient Portal Software 

Essential Questions for Picking EHR Patient Portal Software  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

It’s time to revisit the much undervalued, if much maligned, patient portal. To date, patient portals remain an underutilized resource. But a convergence of trends may change your thinking about their value — especially when selecting or upgrading EHR software. To help with that process, we offer a 10-point checklist for evaluating a patient portal’s usability and functionality. 

Patient Portals: A Mixed Bag

Most of us have used a patient portal, and the reviews are mixed at best. A product of meaningful use requirements, they were mandated as a way to provide patients with timely access to their healthcare.

At their most basic, they’re used to retrieve lab results, ask a question or update patient profiles and insurance providers. Some allow patients to schedule appointments and pay bills. For providers, they represent an opportunity to increase patient engagement, promote loyalty, manage costs and streamline workflows.

In reality, their potential has yet to be harnessed. Hard to access, patient portals are often badly designed, cumbersome to navigate and limited in utility. It’s sometimes easier for patients to pick up the phone and call their provider than to look up their user name or create a new password. For staff and physicians, they require time and resources that aren’t usually billable.

Emerging Trends Impacting Patient Portal Usage and Importance

So beyond next-stage meaningful use requirements, why should the patient portal receive greater consideration in the EHR selection process?

Value-Based Care

First and foremost, as healthcare moves from fee-for-service to value-based care, providers will have further incentive to improve the patient experience, track compliance and manage costs.

In a medical research paper — Patient portals and health apps: Pitfalls, promises, and what one might learn from the other — issued last year, the authors asserted that “the push for reimbursement that relates to value-based care creates an opportunity to develop high-quality patient portals.”

In addition to improving patient health and facilitating wellness, patient portals have the potential to free up staff time, lower call volume (including call backs and phone tag), increase accuracy, reduce duplication and cut down on time spent on patient records, payments and prescription refills.

Data

The future of health and medicine points to the primacy of data. Patient portals can yield a trove of information not captured in a doctor’s visit or clinical interaction — resulting in better population health management and a better ability to track patient engagement and improve adherence to treatment plans.

Patient as Consumer

Patient portals will grow in popularity as patients evolve into healthcare consumers. Increasingly, they want better, faster access to their health information, and to be involved in the medical decision-making process. Patient portals are a natural extension of the trend to go online to select a provider or research medical conditions and treatments. They’re going to expect a positive user experience, rewarding those who do with their loyalty.

Mobile Apps/mHealth

The growing use of mobile apps, smartphones and wearable devices to monitor and upload information about their health and physical activity facilitates more patient self-management and data exchange with their patient portal.

10 Point EHR Checklist for Evaluating Patient Portal Usability

Given the patient portal’s potential and growing importance, how should you evaluate the best portal for your practice or facility?

As a healthcare provider, you can select a standalone patient portal that oftentimes is hosted by a third-party vendor. This approach can result in compatibility issues with your EHR system, requiring your EHR vendor’s cooperation — often at a price.

Alternatively, you can select a patient portal as part of an EHR bundle of services. The good news is that most EHR systems provide a patient portal component. When evaluating their product, you need to remember that patient portals are not all created equal, and can vary in functionality and usability. As such, you need to take into consideration:

  1. Cost – What is the cost to design and activate the portal? Do they provide training, maintenance, troubleshooting and upgrades?
  2. Customization – Do you have flexibility to customize the interface to take into account your practice, specialty and patient profile?  Is it white-labeled to allow for branding?  Do providers have the ability to make refinements?
  3. Patient Management – Does it provide the ability to refill prescriptions, monitor compliance, track patient progress, schedule/cancel appointments, pay bills, upload documents and download practice forms? If they don’t provide all these services, which ones are most important to you?
  4. Communication – How easy is it for patients to send and receive emails and messages? Can patients upload documents? And does it easily and securely integrate with mobile health apps, in a format that providers can use?
  5. Patient Access – How complicated is it for patients to set up an account?  Is it a multi-step process?  Does it incorporate “responsive design” so that it’s accessible and easily readable on a computer screen, mobile device and a smartphone?  
  6. Usability and Navigation – Is the user experience intuitive, consumer-friendly and easy to navigate? Does the portal present information such as test results in a way that patients can understand and interpret? Can it account for sight-impaired patients and patients who don’t speak English?
  7. Content – Can patients view laboratory results and track immunizations, medications and allergies? Can they access personal health data, notes from physicians and medical histories?  Can they renew medications; update their information (insurance, address changes, etc); view discharge and medication instructions; and access an online healthcare library of educational resources?
  8. Security – Is the site HIPAA-compliant to ensure privacy? How secure is the connection in protecting stored data and guarding against data breaches? Does it meet confidentiality and legal requirements for minors? What is the process for setting and resetting passwords?
  9. Workflow automation – Once patient information has been reviewed and approved, can it be uploaded into your EHR (including care plans, clinical visits, insurance coverage, billing) without additional keying or extra work that can result in errors? Can this process be customized to meet your current and future requirements as procedures and policies change? Can it send alerts?
  10. You: The patient portal is evolving, gaining wider acceptance and growing in importance. Not every EHR can address all of these considerations in a manner that meets your needs. Its components are only part of the equation. The other part is you and your commitment.

For starters, do you have a physician champion or super-user who’ll advocate for your patient portal?  Can you ensure that staff are properly trained, and that it’s maintained and regularly upgraded? Are you willing to commit the resources to ensure it’s routinely monitored and being used properly? Do you have the resources to create awareness and educate patients on how to use and maximize its benefits? And do your internal policies and procedures encourage usage?

Ultimately, you can’t guarantee patient compliance or participation. However, you can select a portal that helps you achieve your business goals and meets your patients’ needs.

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Successful EHR interoperability starts locally

Successful EHR interoperability starts locally | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Interoperability is one of the most difficult challenges with electronic health record optimization: The ability to share clinical data across health systems and respective EHRs. Sometimes it takes a personal experience to drive home the meaning of interoperability, not only to the healthcare professionals who regularly interface with the EHR, but the patients.

When EHR interoperability hits home

For those that read my last post, you know that I lost my 40-year-old brother to a heart attack in 2015.  I had a physical about two months after my brother died, but due to my family history of heart disease, I also made a long-overdue appointment to see a cardiologist. Both my primary care physician and cardiologist work within the same system and use the same ‘integrated’ EHR. And yet the scheduler for the cardiologist requested I fax my EKG and history, including labs, to the office prior to my appointment.

Needless to say, we know interoperability will doubtlessly improve patient care and experience. But it can often feel like a mammoth, unachievable task. Some staff are accustomed to jumping through hoops to access data, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The secret is to approach interoperability on a smaller scale and address the changes you can make more locally to move the needle forward. Interoperability is a spectrum, and the right answer for one health system may not be the same for another. 

Small steps toward interoperability

Every health system executive has interoperability on their priority list these days, with exciting strides in personalized medicine, the day-to-day demands of care management and reducing unwarranted care variation.

So where should you start?

First, as leaders in this industry, we need to recognize interoperability isn’t just a technology problem. Opening up access to clinical data across different care settings must be a strategic priority that starts with an honest assessment of a health system’s technical capabilities against the imperative to deliver better patient care. Health systems can’t afford to be left behind here, but can’t do it alone. In an industry rife with mergers and acquisitions, health systems should work from the inside out. While that might seem obvious, many systems struggle to make sure internal stakeholders have access to data on the system in some way or another. 

Second, there’s more than one right technique to achieve some level of interoperability. While a truly integrated EHR is the ultimate goal, it’s typically more costly, time-intensive and organizationally disruptive than other options. There is a myriad of interface engines/brokers, health information exchange tools, APIs and custom-built options that can be implemented much more quickly and provide real value, at the point-of-care, now.

Most health system executives assume that to achieve interoperability, they need to implement or migrate every provider in their system onto the same EHR. And often this course of action is advised. However, I’ve seen clients use some innovative methods to tackle interoperability.

One of my favorite examples is a large health system in the northeast that explored different methods to standardize access to data without moving to the same EHR platform.

As the health system acquired new physician practices, it faced limitations that made an integrated EHR financially and operationally prohibitive. After exploring its options, the health system opted to create an HIE, a safe way to send and standardize patient records between EHRs. While the data are not truly in one single place, HIEs give clinicians access to data across separate systems within a couple clicks.

Achieving interoperability will be a long journey that will only grow in importance as healthcare shifts from a volume to value mindset. When possible, health systems should move to an enterprise EHR architecture and go beyond minimally meeting regulations. There’s no such thing as true, complete interoperability: There will always be a new source of data with a different set of access issues. But in the interim, work with community partners to craft solutions to affect patient care now.

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Physician resistance to EHR systems and how to overcome it

Hospitals face a number of challenges when they implement a new electronic health records (EHR) system. One of them is often getting doctors on board with the new system. Due to this and other issues, facilities may struggle to maintain productivity at first. 

The key to overcoming these obstacles is communication.

The benefits of an EHR system need to be stressed by the folks in charge from the initial planning stages on. Organizations need to be honest about what the system will achieve so that doctors aren’t disappointed in the actual results.

Effectively communicating the benefits of electronic records, training everyone properly and providing strong technical support can help organizations overcome doctors’ three most common complaints about EHR systems:

Productivity drops

Implementing an EHR system is a huge undertaking, and as with any new tech system, it will take some time for an organization to adapt to it. That means doctors might not see any productivity gains for a while. In fact a survey conducted by American EHR Partners found that in many cases, productivity drops dramatically right after a new system is installed.

Physicians may also become frustrated that they’re no more productive with their documentation than they were before the EHR system implementation. That’s why it’s important to stress the benefits of EHRs to doctors in terms of what they’ll allow docs to do for their patients and not so much in terms of saving time.

So if physicians start feeling like data entry clerks, you may need to take a look at the system and make sure it is working properly or get providers more training so they can use the EHR system more effectively.

The bottom line is: Hospital administrators need to make sure doctors still have time to focus on what they’re best at — treating patients – to keep physicians happy.

Overreliance on EHR systems

EHR systems have a lot of features to help doctors make better decisions — and some doctors will interpret that to mean the system will be making decisions for them. Facilities, however, need to emphasize during EHR training how doctors can combine the information they get from the system with their own expertise to give patients the best possible care.

Another benefit to emphasize is the fact that EHRs can greatly increase efficiency for administrative staff through patient self-service tools.

Hospitals can save a lot of staff time by having patients enter data into the system themselves. For example, many patient forms can be filled out beforehand through online portals or at a computer kiosk in the waiting room.

Interfere with patient communication

Little changes that are caused by EHR adoption can have a big impact — for example, facing a computer instead of holding a chart can make it more difficult to make eye contact with a patient and make it clear the doctor is listening.

To help, hospitals might want to consider using tablets instead of laptops to access records. This makes it feel more like providers are holding paper charts and are still able to focus on the patient, rather than sitting with their backs to patients typing away.

What’s extremely important to getting physician buy-in for an EHR system is to find one that’s easy for doctors to use and has all the features the hospital needs. Just remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect system. In a hospital with numerous physicians, there will always be some gripes about any given EHR system.

That’s why finding a system that’s flexible enough to meet the greatest number of end users’ needs is the best bet.

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The Pros and Cons of Customizing Your EHR

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

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

Customization is a common path for modern practices; research from Medical Economics reveals that in a 2-year survey, over 50 percent of practices were starting to customize generic EHR templates. Analyzing both the pros and the cons of customizing an EHR system can help a practice best plan for the future.

 

To Customize of Not to Customize

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

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

 

Pros of Customization

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

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

 

Cons of Customization

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

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

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

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