EHR and Health IT Consulting
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Technical Doctor's insights and information collated from various sources on EHR selection, EHR implementation, EMR relevance for providers and decision makers
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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.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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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.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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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.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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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.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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