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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Don't Overlook EHR Communication

Don't Overlook EHR Communication | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Through all of the planning and preparation that goes into an Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation, EHR communication is often overlooked and undervalued. With everyone focused on delivering the system, building applications, testing hardware and validating workflows, end user preparedness, outside of training, can be overlooked.

 

Sure, they’re going to be trained on the system, but it’s important to remain engaged with end users in the months and weeks leading to go-live, but also beyond go-live. In many aspects, post-live communication is more vital to day-to-day operations throughout the organization.

 

In this post, we’ll discuss the primary types of communication that must be considered, carefully planned for and thoughtfully executed to serve end users best as they prepare for and live in the new world of the EHR.

 

Types of EHR Communication

 

Internal Marketing, pre- go-live
Transitioning to an EHR is daunting for everyone. It’s exciting and new, but it is scary. It’s a daunting task for leadership and project teams, but for end users, this new technology will completely disrupt their professional lives – especially those that have never used the technology.


The merits of the new system, how it will help them in the long run, and how it will benefit patients must all be sold to end users who, in most cases, have always worked a certain way – without technology. The system must be sold to them because there will be resistance, some kicking and screaming, all the way through go-live.


Change Communications
Don’t listen to anyone that tells you that you’ll be able to relax once the system goes live. If anything, the importance of clear, concise communication escalates exponentially after go-live.


Technology, by its nature, evolves. And electronic health records are not exempt. One of the primary features of the technological age we live in is that the systems we use can, and will, be updated.
When changes are made to the system, there must be a coordinated Change Management procedure featuring robust communication to all impacted employees.


System Updates/Downtime Messaging
EHR’s and the infrastructure they run on are fallible. No matter how well the system is designed and built, there will be issues and downtimes that negatively impact end users, and if not planned for accordingly, patients.


System Update (SU) and Downtime procedures must be carefully developed and communicated throughout the organization to ensure that employees know the protocols that are in place in the event of a system outage.


Additionally, communications processes and protocols must be installed throughout the organization to ensure that vital information can be delivered to end users crisis situations – and that end users can communicate what’s happening on the ground with leadership and IT.


Ultimately the goal here is to ensure that clinicians can continue to care for their patients in the event of a system outage and proper communication is key.


Targeted Messaging
This comes down to a simple realization – clinicians are extremely busy people that don’t have time to wade through waves of content to find what pertains to them.
Messaging designed with a specific user group in mind that includes a concise, actionable message works best. Think providers or nurses.


This audience also benefits from a well-known or trusted sender. They don’t pay attention to mass emails from generic inboxes. Their bosses, Chief Medical Officers, Chief Nursing Officers, or a department head usually garner the most respect, and the most attention, in clinical circles.


Patient Communication
This change is disruptive for patients as well, especially during go-live. Taking the time to thoughtfully communicate the change to patients will help ease the transition for them as well.
They’ll have questions. Why is my doctor on that computer so much? Is my medical information online? Is it secure?
Without going into the minutia around the EHR, device integration, real-time data, secure servers, firewalls, data centers, etc. – take the time to explain the change to patients, at least at a high level. They will appreciate it.


myChart & Meaningful Use
On the surface, Meaningful Use and MyChart communication don’t immediately come to mind when thinking of the EHR communications plan. They should, though. Soon after go-live, the focus shifts to stabilization and optimization, which includes myChart and Meaningful Use.


While they’re paired together here because they’re add-ons that don’t necessarily fall under the initial communications scope, these two are very different and need their own comprehensive communications plans and delivery methods as the content, audience, and implications are drastically different.


While not explicitly responsible for building or activating the EHR system that will revolutionize your organization, it’s important to have a person or team dedicated to communicating with your end users – at all stages of the system’s life cycle. Uninformed end users are disgruntled end users, and it pays to have communications people that have experience with IT and EHR delivery as it is a world unto itself.

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Pediatric EHRs Must be Treated Differently

Pediatric EHRs Must be Treated Differently | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

When it comes to healthcare, there are many different types of facilities and settings. There are acute care hospitals, specialty care hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, ambulatory care centers, surgical centers, outpatient clients, physicians’ offices, rehabilitation centers, pediatric care hospitals, and many more. What all of these different care settings have in common is that they most certainly benefit from some form of electronic health record (EHR) software, each with their own specific needs. What they do not have in common, is the type of patients or type of care they provide. Pediatric patients and healthcare facilities require the right approach to install their Pediatric EHR.

 

An acute care hospital’s primary task is to provide short-term care for people with varying degrees of health issues. These usually stem from injury, disease, or genetics. They are open 24/7/365 and bring together physicians from varied specialties, a skilled nursing staff, technicians, and specialized equipment. Most hospitals offer a wide range of services including emergency room, labor and birth, scheduled surgeries, and lab work. Acute care hospitals utilize standard EHR software where each department has a specific module with tailored functionality to meet their needs.

 

The difference between the standard acute care hospital and pediatric care hospitals is, of course, the patients. Though it may seem obvious, teams in pediatric facilities must recognize that infants, children and those with special needs are not merely small adults and they cannot be treated as such. Caregivers must pay additional attention to how they interact with pediatric patients and their families. Bedside manner, psycho-social considerations, and family dynamics have to be considered during the course of care.  In many respects, the Pediatric EHR must be treated the same.

 

Pediatric facilities have unique requirements that dictate many aspects of their EHR software adoption.  Hardware and device placement have unique needs to facilitate documentation where the patient is – many times patients aren’t located in their bed or assigned room.  Specific attention and adherence to isolation requirements are vital. Also, close attention should be given to screen visibility to include parents or other approved family members engaged in care planning, patient teaching, and patient education.  Consideration is also given to the multi-disciplinary care team engaged with a pediatric patient – case management, social work, therapies, child life services, etc.

 

Hospitalizations are essential for both adults and children. How a healthcare organization chooses to treat them is even more critical. Pediatric organizations require special machines, special tests, special nurses, special doctors, and more importantly SPECIALIZED Pediatric EHR software systems. While the primary objective for healthcare organizations is to provide high-quality patient care, they must also make money.  Reimbursement rates continue to decrease which calls for consistent best practices for both hospitalized adults and child to ultimately reduce the length of stays.  Effective and efficient use of the EHR coupled with the power of the data it provides is crucial to patient satisfaction and improved care.  Additionally, healthcare organizations can save money and improve patient care by partnering with healthcare IT consulting companies who have the knowledge and methodologies to ensure that when an EHR is implemented, no matter the setting or patient type, it will be done correctly.

 

Whether it is a standard acute care hospital or a specialized pediatric hospital, Optimum’s expert resources recognize these needs and facilitate incorporation of the “triangle of care” – meaning patient, family and caregiver/device.  In the majority of our activations, we have provided expert support for pediatric inpatient settings, PICU settings, Leve 2, 3 and 4 NICU’s, Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Room settings while implementing their Pediatric EHR.

 

While preparation is undoubtedly a key ingredient for success, all the planning in the world can yield minimal results if you don’t have the right people in place to execute the plan. In addition to the years of experience Optimum brings to the table, we also specialize in allocating the right resources – the right people – for your project at the right time. Optimum Healthcare IT uses its SkillMarket portal to not only manage your go-live resources, but to optimize resources based on your needs, their skillset, and geo-location.

 

Our commitment to your needs ensures that your implementation will be successful throughout your planning, go-live, stabilization, and optimization. And once you make it through the arduous task of implementing an electronic health record, the challenge then becomes sustaining it and meaningfully using it. Optimum Healthcare IT has the best team in the business.

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Smaller Practices are Choosing Cloud-Based EHR 

Smaller Practices are Choosing Cloud-Based EHR  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The medical field has spawned all kinds of new technology that takes patient care to the next level. Regulations demand that even smaller practices need to make the jump to electronic medical record systems (also known as electronic health records). These EMR/EHR solutions provide an interface that gives providers and patients a way to keep themselves connected to each other--a tool to promote a more efficient delivery method for these services. We’ll take a look at these EMR and EHR solutions that are hosted in the cloud, giving your organization more information to make an educated choice on implementing this software.

 

EMR/EHR


EMR/EHR is a critical piece of software for any modern healthcare provider. EMR/EHR is an interface that gives physicians, healthcare providers, and insurers access to updated information about their patients, all at a glance. Since the patient has access to their own file, it can help to promote transparency and collaboration between healthcare providers and patients to improve the quality of their care.

 

Major Considerations


Healthcare is expensive for both patients and providers, which should prompt them to consider a cloud-hosted solution as a viable strategy to minimize costs associated with this industry. Unfortunately, many providers are somewhat reluctant to implement cloud-hosted solutions, even in the face of regulatory compliance laws. There are many serious questions that need to be considered by any organization hoping to take advantage of electronic records--particularly those who store electronic protected health information (ePHI). One of the many considerations any practice needs to consider is the incredible incentive offered to businesses that implement “meaningful use” EMR/EHR technology. To qualify as “meaningful use,” the following variables need to be met:

 

  • Engaging patients in their own care
  • Improving quality, efficiency, safety, and reducing health disparities
  • Improving care coordination
  • Improving public health and health education
  • Meet HIPAA regulations for the privacy of health records


Some of these might seem like common sense, but the costs associated with meeting all of these requirements might be used as an excuse to not invest in these qualifications. Cost is one of the most important factors to consider, and in a high-risk market like healthcare, industry providers generally don’t want to spend more than they have to. The end result is that an organization might utilize cloud-based technology to cut their costs, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to sustain “meaningful use” as it’s defined above.

 

With that said, cloud computing has really come into its own over the past few years, providing even more great services (including security) than ever before--services that EMR/EHR can really benefit from. If you want to implement a solution that can help your medical practice reduce costs and improve functionality, or if you just want to meet the changes in industry regulations, look no further. SouthBridge Consulting can help your business implement high-quality technology solutions designed to increase profits and efficiency. To learn more, reach out to us at (281) 816-6430.

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EHR Market Needs Competition & Innovation

EHR Market Needs Competition & Innovation | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

I spend a fair amount of my days engaged in conversations with family physicians and policymakers on how to improve our nation's health care system. These conversations and the feedback they generate are the engines that drive the AAFP's advocacy. There are dozens of pertinent issues impacting family physicians and their patients, but there are two themes that emerge in every conversation. The first is the disdain family physicians, really all physicians, have for electronic health records. The second is how the EHR industry, to date, has failed in its core mission.

 

On Jan. 20, 2004, President Bush made the following statement as part of his State of the Union Address: "By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care."

 

On April 26, 2004, the Bush Administration formally launched the Promoting Innovation and Competitiveness campaign(georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov), which was aimed at accomplishing the goals outlined in his SOTU address. The campaign made several observations and had several goals, but I would like to highlight three:

 

A patient's vital medical information is scattered across medical records kept by many different caregivers in many different locations – and all of the patient's medical information is often unavailable at the time of care.


Innovations in electronic health records and the secure exchange of medical information will help transform health care in America -- improving health care quality, preventing medical errors, reducing health care costs, improving administrative efficiencies, reducing paperwork, and increasing access to affordable health care.
Within the next 10 years, electronic health records will ensure that complete healthcare information is available for most Americans at the time and place of care, no matter where it originates.
Within the next 10 years?

 

Guess what? Time's up, and none of this happened. It is reasonably safe to say that in the 14 years since President Bush issued his call to action, the promise of EHRs has failed epically to meet the expectations outlined in the SOTU speech -- avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs and improve care. Some would argue that we have digressed in each of these areas.

 

I struggle to find an articulate and elegant way to describe what is so frustrating about electronic health records, but I think I have found a way to do so succinctly -- they suck. They suck as products, and they suck the life out of everyone that uses them.

 

Ponder this, since President Bush issued his 2004 challenge, the following innovations hit the market -- Facebook (2004), Reddit (2005), Twitter (2006), iPhone (2007), Airbnb (2008), Thumbtack (2008), Rent the Runway (2009), Uber (2009), Instagram (2010), Pinterest (2010), Snapchat (2011), Alexa (2014), Bumble (2014), and dozens of others targeted at specific industries or activities. Each of these platforms changed an industry or changed the way we communicate and share information with each other. They have made positive contributions to our economy and our lives.

 

It is a shame that the efficiencies realized from these platforms have not translated to health care via EHRs. Instead of streamlining the healthcare industry, EHRs have created a plethora of cottage industries and consultants; required physicians to incorporate "workaround;" and, most sadly, the EHR has contributed significantly to the onset of an actual epidemic -- physician burnout.

 

A few weeks ago, I was in San Francisco and had the opportunity to meet Andrew Hines(canvasmedical.com), an engineer who has spent his professional career working in and around the technology industry, including work for a major EHR company. During our conversation, he said something that really stuck with me, both for the boldness of the statement and the fact that, deep down, I think we all know it may be true. He said, "I used to think we could improve the electronic health record from within, but now I realize the only way to truly improve electronic health records is to start over."

 

A Harvard professor known for his work in disruptive innovation, describes this as sustaining versus disruptive innovation. Incumbents focus on incremental improvements in their products whereas new entrants succeed with disruptive innovations. The problem with healthcare and EHRs specifically, is that incumbents have all the market power.

 

Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the AAFP Alliance for eHealth Innovation, summed it up as follows: "The reason EHRs suck is not due to a lack of innovation in technology but rather in a lack of innovation in health care. It seems that the health care industrial-complex, unlike other industries, is insulated from such innovative challenges from new players."

 

Waldren summarized his thoughts in a simple statement, "Without competition, we will not see the technology innovations in health care we have seen in other industries."

 

There are no easy solutions in health care, and improving EHRs is no different. However, we desperately need innovation and meaningful competition in the health information technology and EHR space. The following are three objectives the AAFP is pursuing to increase competition and spur innovation:

 

Make it easier for new companies to enter the health IT marketplace -- The AAFP continues to work on expanding interoperability to allow appropriate access to data stored in EHRs, in a timely manner. The AAFP is aggressively advocating for policies that force EHR vendors and other health IT products to be interoperable based on a defined set of standards. We also believe that all data in the EHR should be available for use by third-party vendors, of course with appropriate privacy.


Make it easier for innovators to design smarter health IT products -- One of the differences between health care and the general IT space is the complexity and fuzziness of the semantics of clinical data. The AAFP is committed to working with others to model clinical data in standard ways that allow developers to make health IT systems that can reason about clinical data and therefore help automate tasks physicians must perform.
Eliminate or reduce administrative requirements placed on health IT products -- The poor usability of EHRs is often due to external requirements established by regulators and payers, such as clinical documentation, which does not add clinical value. The AAFP is actively promoting policies that eliminate or, narrow, those requirements. We believe a reduction in administrative burden will help physicians, and also allow health IT developers to focus on features and functions that add clinical value.
Closing Thought


As you can tell, I am frustrated with the performance of current EHRs and the negative impact they are having on our health care system and each of you personally. The dominant companies in the market have produced products that have largely failed at the core goals established in the early 2000s. As I have noted, technology in every other industry tends to result in rapid improvements to function and efficiencies. Health care simply hasn't seen the same improvements, and the companies that make these products have seen windfalls in the billions, yet their products continue to underperform and fail to meet expectations of patients, physicians, and policymakers.

 

I remain a strong supporter of the broad use of EHRs in our health care system. The EHR still stands to improve the aggregation and distribution of medical information, which would improve our health care system. Without a doubt, the ability to access and transmit medical information among care sites and physicians would improve care and result in efficiencies for patients and the system overall.

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The EHR and Rage Against the Machine

The EHR and Rage Against the Machine | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The EHR is the latest focus of our rage against the machine. Case in point: Chrissy Farr’s poke at the EHR in today’s Fast Company. Red meat for angry old doctors.

 

What might be interesting is to take a bunch of millennial doctors and make them work for a month with clipboards, fax machines, mailed letters and emulsion films on view boxes? Then we could write a story about the joy and efficiency of manilla folder medicine.

 

I suspect it would put things in perspective.

We fancy ourselves as victims of our technology. But while EHRs have a long way to go, it’s a long way back to paper.

 

I was in an elevator at Texas Children’s Hospital this weekend where there were a number of people looking at their smartphones.  An older gentleman in the elevator remarked shaking his head, “I remember a time when people used to talk.”

 

Actually, no one talked in elevators.  We’ve always stood the same direction and stared at the numbers at the top of the door.

 

It’s easy to blame technology on our human shortcomings.  It’s been suggested that the adoption of EHR has us ignoring patients.  But in the old days, we scribbled on paper.  Irresponsible resident and medical student conduct with social media are blamed on the platform.  But trainees have always done and said stupid things.

Blame it our chauvinistic human bias:  “It’s not me, it’s the machine.”

 

While there are those of us who share a perverse relationship with our tools, it’s important to remember that the world wasn’t necessarily rainbows and unicorns before [insert technology of choice] appeared.

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Are Providers Satisfied With Their EHR?

Are Providers Satisfied With Their EHR? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Physicians are expected to document encounters with patients. This ensures there is a record of crucial information for decision-making and dispute. A decade ago, around 90% of physicians updated their patient records by hand. By the end of 2014, 83% of physicians had adopted EHR systems. The combination of government incentives, advances in technology, and improved outcomes and operations fueled this growth.

When healthcare providers have access to complete and accurate information, patients receive better care and have better outcomes. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) improve providers’ ability to diagnose disease and reduce medical errors. EHRs further help providers meet patient demands, provide decision support, improve communication, and aid in regulatory reporting.

A national survey of providers highlights their perspective on the benefits of having EHR in their practice:

  • 94% of providers report that their EHR makes records readily available at point of care.
  • 88% of providers report that their EHR produces clinical benefits for the practice.
  • 75% of providers report that their EHR allows them to deliver better patient care.

As the adoption of EHR grew over the last 10 years, so too did the need to change EHR systems within health systems, hospitals, and private medical practices. Growth in M&A activity fueled many healthcare organizations to combine data through EHR data conversion. Provider dissatisfaction has played a key role in encouraging change in EHR systems, also increasing EHR data conversion activity.

A study completed by Health Affairs showed, by and large, providers recognize the important advances that EHRs enable. Fewer than 20% of all providers said they would return to paper records. That being said, providers also noted negative effects of current EHRs on their professional lives and on patient care.  While excited about the possibilities provided by EHRs, providers have ultimately found poor usability that does not match clinical workflows, time-consuming data entry, interference with patient interaction, and too many electronic messages and alerts.

According to a 2014 survey of physicians conducted by AmericanEHR Partners:

  • 54% indicated their EHR system increased their total operating costs.
  • 55% said is was difficult or very difficult to use their EHR to improve efficiency.
  • 72% said it was difficult or very difficult to use their EHR to decrease workload.
  • 43% said they had not yet overcome productivity challenges associated with their EHR implementation.

These concerns about EHR usability are in alignment with others, including the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers, and practicing physicians. Given the rate at which many healthcare organizations have adopted EHRs, these organizations find themselves unable to wait for the long-run fixes. Healthcare organizations are now looking to change EHR providers in order to fix many of the providers’ concerns.

As healthcare organizations begin the process of changing EHR providers, there is an increased need for solutions to provide access to and maintain the integrity of data stored in the legacy systems. When this need arises, healthcare organizations have the choice to archive the legacy data, run multiple systems simultaneously, or complete an EHR data conversion.

Given the complexity of the data and variety of potential solutions, one might suppose that handling legacy data would be a complex affair. In many ways, that is true. However, it doesn’t have to be. To learn more about the state of EHRs and potential solutions for maintaining access and integrity of legacy data.

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5 EHR Benefits We Seem to Have Forgotten About

5 EHR Benefits We Seem to Have Forgotten About | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Here are a few of the guaranteed EHR benefits:

  1. Legibility of Notes: Physicians' handwriting has been the topic of many jokes. While it’s funny to joke about, it’s not funny if you’re the physician receiving one of those illegible notes or the billing office trying to get paid based on some illegible chart note. The beauty of an EHR is that the notes are all typed in a font that can easily be read. The whole issue of physician handwriting goes out the window.
  2. Accessibility of Charts: Charts are more accessible in an EHR in two distinct ways. First, the concept of a lost chart basically disappears in the EHR world. When you want the chart, you search by the patient’s name or other identifier and instantly have access to the patient chart. No more searching through the chart room, the lab box, the nurses’ box, the box on the exam room door, etc. for the lost chart. Second, the chart can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Gone are the late night phone calls which require you to drive to the office to view the chart. An EHR can be accessed anywhere you have Internet.
  3. Multiple Users Accessing the Chart: How quickly we forget the fact that only one person could use the paper chart at a time. In fact, entire workflows were created around the fact that two people couldn’t work on the paper chart at the same time. In an EHR, the nurse, doctor, front desk, HIM, and billing staff can all work on the chart at the same time.
  4. Disaster Recovery: Many people are afraid of disaster situations with their EHR. While this is an important topic, an EHR can be so much better in a disaster than a paper chart. If your chart room goes up in flames, what could you do? Not much. Your charts were lost. In the EHR world, you can easily create multiple backups and store them in multiple secure locations including secure offsite storage. This takes some thoughtful planning to do it right, but EHR makes it possible to store multiple copies of your data which minimizes your risk of lost data. This is so much better than a paper chart in a disaster. With a cloud-based EHR this redundancy is often built in, and there is little or nothing you need to do.
  5. Drug to Drug and Allergy Interaction Checking: Yes, we’ve had Epocrates in our pocket for a long time. That was a huge improvement over those stacks of books on the shelf. However, EHR takes that one step further. Your EHR knows about your patients’ list of allergies and the drugs they’re taking. These extra pieces of information can provide a much deeper analysis of any drug you’re looking to prescribe. I don’t remember a prescription pad ever alerting you to an issue with an allergy when you were writing the script.

Obviously this is just a small list of the guaranteed benefits. We could create an even longer list of the possible, probable, and future benefits of an EHR as well.  I’ll just cap it off with one simple example. How are you going to handle pharmacogenomic medicine on paper? It’s coming. The simple answer is that you’re not doing pharmacogenomics on paper. You’re going to need technology, and it will likely be connected to your EHR.

While I still don’t think we’ve realised all of the benefits that we could have (and many might say should have) from an EHR, we shouldn’t forget the many benefits an EHR has already provided. Far too often we evaluate our current EHR implementation against the perfect EHR as opposed to the alternative. EHR software has already provided a lot of benefits, but the most exciting thing is that we’re really just getting started. The future benefits will be even more impactful than the benefits we’re receiving today.

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The EHR Journey – Selecting an EHR Vendor

The EHR Journey – Selecting an EHR Vendor | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

As a healthcare organization, innovation and change can be a challenge. And while many changes are forced, either by government mandate, financial incentive, or patient care necessity, each organization must make a series of decisions that will dictate their technological, financial and cultural future. Though the EHR journey, from selection and implementation to maintenance and upgrades, is not easy, it is necessary. In this series, we reached out to Terri Couts, VP of Epic Application Programs at Guthrie Clinic, for her thoughts on the end-to-end EHR journey.

 

EHR Vendor Selection
The easiest part about selecting an EHR vendor is making the decision that you need one. The selection itself can be, and in my opinion, should be a challenging task. No matter what vendor you choose, you can be sure that it will be a large financial investment. In the past, organizations would tend to steer towards the “best of breed” approach. This approach can lead an organization down the path of silo systems and disjointed processes creating additional work and costs.

 

There are many vendors who deliver an excellent product, but do you understand what your requirements are of the system? Defining the scope, requirements, and the desired outcomes are all part of the first step. Many users look to the technology to address a need and ask questions like “what can Epic do for me?” However, I would challenge our users to understand their requirements ahead of time and use those requirements to drive your selection process. List out the requirements and make sure to have a rating scale for each when you meet with vendors.

 

I have found that attending several vendor demos can help you identify the requirements that you ultimately want to have in your EHR. If they are good vendors, they have already done a great deal of research for their development. Use their investment to your advantage. Participate in as many demo sessions as you need to come up with a robust and complete RFP.

 

Also, make sure you have the right stakeholders at the table when defining the requirements. Be careful not to get sidetracked by the shiny new object and focus on how it can align with the organization’s goals, value, and mission. Vendors are good at showing the functionality around the new buzzwords such as big data, population health, and the newest artificial intelligence features. However, if they cannot meet the organization’s core function needs, none of that will matter.

 

Every organization’s needs are different based on their type of patients, variation in care, location, and finances. Therefore, there is not a single checklist that all organizations can use. However, I have found that the more integration the system offers, the better. Taking away silos within departments allows for the highest level of transparency driving an increase in patient safety and outcomes.

 

Again, I believe the hardest part of selecting a new EHR is identifying what you want out of the system. Once you know that, you can make the system work for you and instead of you working for the system. The decision to implement a new EHR is one you will have to live with for a long time. It’s an investment in your organization’s future. Put the effort and work in ahead of time to be sure the investment is something you can live with and scale.

 

The EHR journey can span years and effectively dictates, at least in part, the healthcare organization’s path and culture. This series examines the experiences of healthcare leaders that have been through it. Whether you’re selecting an EHR for the first time or replacing an existing system, the EHR journey is a daunting one. These lessons learned could be priceless to you and your organization.

 

Check back soon as the next post in this series will cover workflows and their importance throughout your EHR Journey.

 

Make sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest thought leadership in healthcare IT delivered directly to your inbox. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to join the conversation. Check back for our next Center Stage feature in the coming weeks.

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Become an EHR Super User

Become an EHR Super User | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

When I visit clinics to help them optimize EHR use, there is a clear difference between the super users and other users. While the super users may still have complaints about the system, they are nowhere near as frustrated as the other users. This is because they have invested the time in understanding how to leverage the EHR to significantly speed up their everyday workflow.

 

Most EHRs have built-in "accelerators," tools and shortcuts similar to what you find in Microsoft Word or Excel, for greater efficiency. The problem is most physicians don't bother to learn them because they've either exhausted many systems in their career or there is not ample time in the day to do anything other than "survive" in the clinic. But taking the time to learn to use something you use for hours a day every day pays off, and investing as little as an hour each week learning to better use your EHR has been shown to increase physician satisfaction.

 

Three tips to get you started


1. Make sure you understand and spend some time loading your system's "macros." You want to make checking off boxes or typing a rare, unique action, not a routine one. One rule of thinking is that if you are doing the same thing the third time, you should spend a moment to save it, memorize it, macro it or whatever your system calls it.

 

2. Get a good tool for finding diagnosis codes. I recommend Problem IT Plus. Try it and you'll thank me if you are doing this now without it.


3. Make sure you understand how your system enables team-based care. Allowing everyone to practice at the top of their license and contribute to the delivery of care is crucial. Empower the care team to create notes and use automated tasking and messaging within the EHR whenever possible.


It is an exciting time for healthcare IT: leverage tools such as the EHR and allows them to help you refocus on the business of medicine instead of the business of administration. It takes an extra hour or so a month, but allows you to focus on the three things that matter most: your patients, your practice, and yourself.

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Are Medical Practices Taking Advantage of Cloud-Based EHR?  

Are Medical Practices Taking Advantage of Cloud-Based EHR?   | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In today’s medical field, technology is a big player. With regulations dictating that even independent practices attempt to make the jump to a dedicated EMR/EHR. An EMR/EHR, or electronic medical record/electronic health record interface, provides physicians and patients a way to connect to promote efficient healthcare delivery and organizational profitability. Today, we will look at how smaller healthcare providers are utilizing EMR/EHR solutions that are hosted in the cloud, bucking the trend of hosting their patient information locally.

 

EMR/EHR


For the modern healthcare provider, the EMR/EHR is a major piece of software. The EMR/EHR is an interface that physicians, healthcare providers, and insurers use to update the information on each patient. As the patient has access to their own EMR/EHR file as well, it makes it a very useful guide for all parties involved to manage an individual patient’s care.

 

Major Considerations
With the massive cost of health care, it isn’t much of a stretch to say that there are some very serious considerations that have to be made to the way that doctors and health organizations utilize cloud-hosted technologies. Many providers, however, are reluctant to do just that as there are serious questions about the viability of cloud computing for regulation-covered information such as electronic protected health information (ePHI). One such consideration is the massive incentives offered to organizations who implement “meaningful use” EMR/EHR technology. In order to meet the “meaningful use” criteria, however, many separate variables have to be met, including:

  • Engaging patients in their own care
  • Improving quality, efficiency, safety, and reducing health disparities
  • Improving care coordination
  • Improving public health and health education
  • Meet HIPAA regulations for the privacy of health records

 

So while many of these variables seem to be common sense, there are additional costs that go along with this kind of comprehensive use of EMR/EHR functionality, which, for smaller medical practices, can be enough of an impetus to not meet those qualifications. Cost usually supersedes most other qualifications, even in a high-stakes, results-based business model like healthcare. That means that even though utilizing cloud technology will cut costs, there is no guarantee that a practice will meet the necessary criteria for “meaningful use”.

 

That said, cloud computing has more resources available to maintain data security than ever before, and organizations can still move to an EMR/EHR solution that will benefit their users, and their staff. If you are looking for a solution to help your medical practice cut costs, get dynamic web-based functionality, or get your technology in a position to meet industry regulations, contact the experts

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Getting the Most Out of Your EHR - Healthcare IT Consulting

Getting the Most Out of Your EHR - Healthcare IT Consulting | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

No matter how much your organization has invested in an EHR, there will always be opportunities to improve its performance—especially when considering the ways individuals interact with and are impacted by it. If you are interested in learning how to ensure your implementation goes well or to better leverage your current EHR, check out four popular blog posts about getting the most out of your system.

 

8 Best Practices for Building Better Relationships During EHR Implementation and Training
EHR implementations and training can be highly stressful for end-users, especially those in patient-facing roles. Minimizing that stress can result in more engaged training sessions and better long-term retention, which is why in this article an experienced principal trainer shares how to streamline these processes through relationship building.

 

EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage
EHR training should include more than technical skills instruction—it should instill in end-users confidence that they will be able to adapt to a new system (even if they forget a few details post-training). In this blog post, an experienced training consultant explains how to create an environment of positivity conducive to learning.

 

EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Management
Healthcare organizations already analyze patient data to identify savings opportunities, but what often goes overlooked is how the configuration and use of the EHR can make a significant impact on cost and care. This article examines how organizations maturing their population health and value-based care programs can use their existing technology to meet their goals.

 

Quality Reporting: What Your Healthcare Organization Needs to Know About Measure Selection and EHR Configuration
For healthcare organizations with limited resources, participation in pay-for-performance plans like MACRA’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) is challenging. They often lack the time and expertise to retool their EHR implementation to document new metrics and recognize when a measure has been met. In this post, we discuss important data management issues and the repercussions of waiting to address them.

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EHR and Challenges of the Modern Medical Note

EHR and Challenges of the Modern Medical Note | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

There was a time when documentation was an almost inconsequential process. After seeing a patient, the doctor would scratch a note, close the folder, and file it on a shelf until the next visit.

 

Things are different and the medical note has evolved. As it’s evolved, electronic health records (EHR) have brought efficiencies to the medical note while introducing new challenges. And like the cognitive biases that impact patient care, the problems inherent in documentation need attention.

 

Thinking about these challenges becomes important in documenting care and training the next generation of health professionals. Here are a few that I think about

Auto Documentation

One of the powers of the EHR is that it allows users to auto-populate the medical record with chunks of pre-fabricated text known as smart phrases. But these personally created building blocks of the medical note create the potential for one-clip-fits-all documentation. As I’ve said in the past, the smart phrase is not new technology.

 

I work to keep smart phrases out of my history of present illness and impression where individualized narratives show what’s unique about a case. Free text keeps me real.

Replicability

While smart phrases represent the dropping of self-created language, we have the ability to clip and paste information from other parts of the chart. This may include bits and pieces from notes penned by another medical professional.

 

While we all lift bits of language from places like CT and biopsy reports, issues arise when the origination of our language is that of another health professional. Epic now allows visualization of a phrase’s origin when not created by the author.

 

I’m careful about what I copy. I’m twice as careful with what I paste as a representation of my own thinking.

Size and absence of constraint

While smart phrases are limited only by our imagination, a digital note with no constraints predisposes to note bloat, one of the looming threats to modern medicine. Pre-digital notes were constrained by writer’s cramp.

 

I’ve laboured through notes where every single lab drawn on a complicated patient is dumped into the note. Pages and pages of marginally abnormal CBC and metabolic panels create a scenario where it’s difficult, if not impossible, to discern what data is relevant to the decisions made.

 

I try to consider the needs of the end user of the note. Of course, this is challenging when our opinion of what constitutes a ‘good note’ varies from that of the note read.

Ambiguity of purpose

This is the most remarkable phenomenon of the modern medical note. Medical notes have traditionally had pet purposes. Medical students learn early on that ‘the right way to write a note’ varies not only by speciality but by the whim of the individual physician responsible for the note. Physicians with firm views regarding what constitutes the purpose of a note may even morph their perspective depending upon the nature of an individual case.

So if you ask 3 physicians the purpose of a medical note and you’ll get 5 answers ranging from billing and quality documentation to legal coverage and professional communication. Over time the medical note has morphed into all of these things at once.

 

The problem with an ambiguity of purpose is how to manage the expectations of the end user. A physician who feels compelled to paste three months worth of blood results into the data portion of a note will be at odds with someone like myself who believes that a note serves to offer nothing other than concise support for what I’m thinking and planning.

 

As notes become more visible to more folks we can expect ambiguity of purpose to become more pronounced. Digital notes and their capacity for customization amplify this divergence of purpose.

Scaling visibility of the EHR

Once restricted to the shelves of offices in big buildings, medical documentation has traditionally been siloed. This was fine because notes existed for the doctors who occupied those individual offices.  The medical note is now enjoying new freedom in its electronic shape. More notes are more visible to more professionals. This is evident within consolidated health systems where networks of offices connect to big hospitals.

 

Beyond professionals, patients are watching and, in some cases, editing their own notes. OpenNotes is a related program based in Boston’s Beth Israel hospital. Regular patient review and revision represent a revolutionary move in medical documentation.

This scaling visibility of the modern note brings greater scrutiny for what we do or don’t do.

 

This idea of the medical note and its evolution gets little attention yet it represents the core medium of all documentation by medical professionals. It deserves more thorough attention and study.

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What Your Healthcare Organization Needs to Know About Measure Selection and EHR Configuration

What Your Healthcare Organization Needs to Know About Measure Selection and EHR Configuration | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Participation in pay-for-performance plans like MACRA’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) poses new challenges for resource-strapped healthcare organizations. Many provider sites lack the time and technical expertise needed to retool their EHR implementation to document new metrics under value-based reimbursement models like the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

Nonetheless, that is precisely what clinicians must do to deliver on quality reporting requirements. When using EHR documentation tools, many factors must be considered for a provider to get credit on having met clinical quality measures (CQMs). How that information gets stored in the EHR directly affects reporting. Many healthcare organizations are finding that customizing an EHR to recognize when a measure has been met—preferably in a manner that poses as few interruptions to patient engagement as possible—is easier said than done.

 

Overcoming EHR Limitations

Many outpatient and inpatient settings still struggle with common EHR data management headaches. As clinicians bring new quality measures into the EHR, those underlying data management issues can foil even the best-laid reporting plans.

Discrete Data Capture

The push to better document clinical quality is causing a transition in EHRs to focus more on structured or discrete data that is easier to trend over time. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers still receive patient data from healthcare affiliates via fax. Those faxed documents show up as attachments in the patient chart and are not fully integrated into the patient data file. If that information was sent via HL7 interface instead, details on the care rendered by that hospital or other healthcare entity would flow into the EHR as discreet data variables. For many providers today, capturing that information in a manner that makes it usable in reporting and analytics still requires timely, manual data entry.

Documentation and Data Consistency

Provider sites with multiple clinicians may also encounter issues related to the slightly different way that each EHR user documents care. MIPS and other quality programs require consistency and a high degree of specificity in clinical documentation. If a clinician does not get diagnosis specifics into the patient chart, that patient may not be included in the CQM calculation they need to be included in. Many clinicians are having to modify their documentation process during patient encounters so they and the staff can capture all the necessary information in the EHR.

Clinical documentation will have even bigger repercussions under the Cost component of MIPS, which is slated to be factored into performance scores in coming years. Take, for example, a patient that is in for the flu. That patient has a certain anticipated cost impact (the average Medicare spending per beneficiary), calculated based on past medical history and services rendered. If a patient goes to a physician and has the flu but also has diabetes, heart failure, and asthma, that flu patient is probably going to cost more to care for. If the physician only submits the flu diagnosis and fails to document patient co-morbidities then the healthcare organization will not get the same allowance under the MIPS Cost category and could be labeled as “higher cost” than a comparable provider encounter for a patient that required fewer resources to care for.

Clinicians, coders, and staff need to make a mental transition away from “we’re submitting claims” to “we’re submitting data” to better serve clinical reporting initiatives and patient care analysis.

 

Making Informed CQM Selections

Beyond adapting to new data management processes, clinicians reporting under value-based programs also have a great deal to learn as they layer in additional quality measures under MACRA. One of the biggest challenges clinicians and administrators face is selecting the best measures for their specific healthcare organization. With limited spare time on their hands, many healthcare teams are leaning on outside expertise to help them evaluate the implications of various measure selections.

Measures Without Benchmarks

Many quality measures under MACRA are carry-overs or “relics” from other reporting programs. For these CQMs, providers can look to prior performance averages to evaluate the likelihood of success should the healthcare organization elect to report on those measures. That data does not exist for some CQMs, which are referred to as “measures without benchmarks.” On measures that have no benchmark data available, providers will be limited to a maximum of three reporting points instead of the ten points available on measures with benchmarks established.

To further complicate things, details on the availability of some benchmark data will not be calculated until after the March 2018 QPP reporting deadline. Providers may wish to further diversify or report on additional measures that could help offset low point earnings on measures without benchmarks.

Topped Out Measures

Another CQM caveat that providers should be aware of relates to “topped out” measures. These relic measures from other reporting programs are very engrained in many healthcare settings. Medication reconciliation, for example, was a requirement under Meaningful Use. Widespread adoption and universally high compliance rates on that measure makes it more difficult for clinicians to out-perform peers. Achieving maximum points on such measures requires a perfect or near-perfect score.

Keep average performance thresholds in mind when evaluating CQM selections, not just the healthcare entity’s individual performance track record. Look at a broader set of measures to maximize MIPS score potential. Clinicians could earn more points by scoring 70 percent on a non-topped out measure than they would earn scoring 95 percent on a topped out measure. Some topped out measures will likely be eliminated in future years to help diversify CQMs, as was the case under Meaningful Use.

Understanding the intricacies of CQM selection and EHR data management will be vital to success under value-based payment programs. Healthcare administrators and clinicians who proactively work to better understand the impact of various measures and streamline EHR processes will be best positioned to maximize program incentives.

 

Does your organization have the resources it needs to successfully navigate MIPS? Learn how Pivot Point can help with your value-based strategy.

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