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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Questions to Ask Before Choosing an EHR

Like many managers or owners of a thriving medical practice, you have heard about the benefits of using electronic health records software and are interested in implementing an EHR in your organization. You can assume that many, if not all, of your nearby competitors are using EHR, and the more effective they are in using this software, the better they will be able to attract and keep patients.

Transitioning from the old methods of paper-based systems to the latest advances in medical software is bound to raise some questions among you and your staff. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do some research first before making the commitment and selecting your EHR. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask as you prepare to make your choice.

Is the Software Vendor Knowledgeable and Reliable?

It’s much better to go with a software vendor that has sufficient experience, knowledge, and a proven track record in developing mission-critical software like EHR. Find a firm that has been around for a while and that has excellent reviews from your peers, as well as your competitors.

A software developer for medical organizations must have a staff that keeps up with the changing nature of healthcare delivery, adjustments in industry standards, and governmental rules. This ensures that you will always have access to software this is compliant with the entities you do business with.

What Kind of Training is Available?

After assessing the skill level and knowledge of your medical organization, you will have a better idea of how much training you need. Make sure that your software provider will give your team the training and help it needs to quickly get up to speed with using EHR software.

How Does the Software Company Handle Upgrades?

Upgrades are a fact of life in any computer system. You’ll want to ask your vendor how it approaches upgrades. There will be upgrades to improve the quality of the software, to be sure, but there will also be required updates, such as the ones EHR software developers must finalize to meet the U.S. government’s required change from ICD-9 to version 10 of the International Classification of Diseases.

Does the Software Vendor Provide Good Customer Service?

The last thing you want when dealing with unfamiliar software is to contend with unanswered questions on how to use it. Check the level of customer service from your prospective provider. Otherwise, your staff may experience unexpected and unnecessary downtime, hampering office productivity and lowering your organization’s financial success.

Making the decision to move from a paper-based system for managing your medical organization will make a significant impact on your staff’s daily activities. Now that you know you want to implement an EHR, it’s crucial to resolve any unanswered questions before making your software selection.

Key Takeaway:

  • Medical practice owners and managers who are aware of electronic health record software will want to ask some questions before choosing their EHR.
  • Don’t rush into buying EHR software that you are unfamiliar with. Make sure you understand how it will integrate with your organization.
  • Check what kind of training your software provider offers to ensure your staff can quickly get up to speed with the EHR system.
  • Verify the skill level and knowledge of your software company to make sure it will be capable of handling upgrades, especially those mandated by governmental regulations.
  • Does the EHR vendor provide the type of customer service that you deem appropriate? You will want to go with a firm that has excellent communication skills and will respond in a timely manner.


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The Benefits of Electronic Health Records

The Benefits of Electronic Health Records | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

What are the benefits of electronic health records? Human Resource files? Invoices?

Implementing an electronic records system has the potential to provide extraordinary benefits for clinics, healthcare organizations, and physicians. By facilitating workflows and improving the overall quality of patient care and safety, electronic documents are able to provide a wealth of measurable benefits – including some impressive financial savings.

Financial Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

A study, published by The American Journal of Medicine, has shed some light on the financial costs and benefits associated with an electronic health records system. This particular study looked to find quantifiable cost savings directly influenced by electronic records – and what they found was astounding.

The estimated net benefit from implementing an electronic health record system in a primary care setting over a 5 year period? $86,400 per provider.

Researchers even accounted for the inevitable productivity loss during the implementation of an EHR system. In this particular study, researchers found that even if a healthcare organization sustained a prolonged 10% productivity loss for 12 months…there was still a 5 year net benefit of $57,500 per provider.

According to this study, the primary benefits/savings accrued came from:

  • Savings in drug expenditures
  • Improved utilization of radiology tests
  • Better capture of charges
  • Decreased billing errors

However – this study did not include other cost saving factors, such as:

  • Decreased malpractice premium costs
  • Storage costs
  • Supply costs
  • Generic drug substitutions
  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased staff requirements
  • Increased reimbursement from more accurate patient evaluations
  • Decreased claims denials from inadequate documentation

Not only does this study illustrate the ROI of electronic records – it illustrates that these financial savings are just the tip of the “benefits” iceberg.

Without a doubt, the implementation of an electronic record system in a healthcare setting can result in a positive return on investment. However, healthcare organizations should also be looking to expand their electronic document systems to include more than just medical records. Consider the financial benefits to be had enhancing other paper-intensive processes, such as the management of HR files or the indexing of invoices.

Electronic documents have proven their value as medical records – so why not share the savings with every department?


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People Aren't Perfect and EHRs Can't Change That | Physicians Practice

People Aren't Perfect and EHRs Can't Change That | Physicians Practice | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
George W. Bush got one thing right and one thing wrong. He was right when he announced that he was "The Decider." He was wrong when he chose where he would get the information on which to base his decisions. He understood that he could never know everything about everything, therefore it didn't really matter if he knew nothing about anything, as long as he could apply his instincts for deciding to knowledge that was supplied and explained by others.

Keep that in mind while we think about healthcare practitioners. Being human, there are two things about which you can be sure:

1. People can't perform an operation flawlessly, in precisely the same way time after time after time; and

2. People can't keep track of (remember) all of the things that hallucinating managers and regulators think that they should.

It's just the way human brains are constructed. It may not be what anyone wants to hear, but it's a fact and no amount of wishing will alter the facts.

So, the worst thing that an EHR can do is to add to the number of procedures that people must perform flawlessly and the number of things that they must remember to do. Being the worst thing possible, that is, of course, exactly what most of them do do (and why some think that they are do-do).

Computer systems will never make good deciders and people will never make good robots.

For an EHR to be useful, it should focus on documenting events, keeping track of work in progress, and alerting people in useful ways when new information becomes available that might require a decision. Then it should present that new information, in context, so that people can make the best decision possible.

When the available information is skewed, biased, incomplete, or just plain wrong, bad decisions will be the result. When information that could be available is not available, the decisions that get made will be a total crap shoot.
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Survey: Physicians See Benefits, Drawbacks in EHR System Switches

Survey: Physicians See Benefits, Drawbacks in EHR System Switches | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Changing electronic health record systems could improve EHR functionality and help physicians meet meaningful use requirements, but physicians might be unhappy with the switch, according to a survey published in the journal Family Practice Management, FierceEMR reports.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 1/20).

For the survey, researchers polled 305 family physicians who had switched EHR systems in 2010 or later. The survey was conducted between July 2014 and September 2014 (Edsall/Adler, Family Practice Management, January/February 2015).

Survey Findings

The survey found that the most common reasons for changing EHR systems were:

  • Needing additional functionality;
  • Wanting to meet meaningful use requirements;
  • Desire to increase usability; and
  • Requiring improved training and support.

Researchers also found that 59% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their new system had better functionality, and 57% said that the change helped them to meet meaningful use requirements.

However, just 43% of respondents indicated they were happy with the switch to a different EHR system. Respondents who were part of the decision to change EHR systems were happier with the change than those who were not part of the decision-making process.

Overall, 81% said the time investment in changing EHR systems was challenging, with issues such as:

  • Productivity loss;
  • Data loss; and
  • Data migration problems.
Comments

Researchers said that physicians need to carry out a careful evaluation of their current EHR system prior to making a change. They also said that making alterations in physician workflow could result in better outcomes.

They noted that switching EHR systems might be necessary to improve functionality or achieve meaningful use but added that "if you just want to change because you don't like using your current EHR or consider it a drag on your productivity, the grass may not be greener on the other side"


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Report: Epic, Cerner Leading “Next Wave” EMR Vendors

Report: Epic, Cerner Leading “Next Wave” EMR Vendors | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Nearly half of large hospitals surveyed will be making a new electronic medical record (EMR) purchase by 2016, according to a recent report from the Orem, Utah-based KLAS research. Of those planning on making a change, Verona, Wisc.-based Epic and Kansas City-based Cerner are the leading contenders among EMR vendors.

KLAS interviewed 277 providers from large hospitals (200+ beds), which gave feedback on what vendors they are considering, why they are considering them, and what their timelines look like for making these purchases. The survey was good news for Epic and Cerner. Forty-six percent of those respondents who mentioned Epic and 23 percent who mentioned Cerner were leaning towards choosing them for their second EMR purchase. Next was McKesson and Meditech, with 19 percent each. At the low end of the totem poll was Siemens at 9 percent and Allscripts with 4 percent.

Furthermore, 79 percent who mentioned Allscripts said they were steering clear of the company and 82 percent said the same of Siemens. Siemens, McKesson, and Allscripts were the most likely EMR systems to be replaced by the providers. Not a single person with Epic plans on replacing that system.

“Where the last round of EMR purchases was fueled by meaningful use requirements and enticing reimbursements, this next round is being fueled by concerns about outdated technology and health system consolidation,” report author Colin Buckley. “This shift in focus will play a major factor in which EMRs are being considered.”

Integration is a huge reason why Epic and Cerner are doing well. KLAS says Epic is seen as safe due to “total integration” and reliable delivery. Cerner, too, is a market leader due to integration and expansive functionality. The only caveat to Cerner’s success is its revenue cycle stability. On the other end, Allscripts lack of integration has turned away buyers. Although, current customers are encouraged by the company’s change in management (Paul Black became CEO in late 2012) and acquisitions of Jardogs and dbMotion.


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