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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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Updates for Meaningful Use, Interoperability, Health Reform | EHRintelligence.com

Updates for Meaningful Use, Interoperability, Health Reform | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Developments during the last week of January will have a serious effect on the progress of meaningful use, interoperability, and health reform in the coming year.

Perhaps the most important development for health IT was a reduction in meaningful use reporting requirements in 2015. After months of feedback criticizing the meaningful use requiring for reporting in 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finally decided to opt for a 90-day reporting period rather than one requiring a full year’s worth of EHR data.

In a CMS blog post, Patrick Conway, MD, the Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality and CMO, highlighted three meaningful use requirements the federal agency is considering for an upcoming proposed rule.

The first would require eligible hospitals like eligible professionals to report based on the calendar year, which would give these organizations time to implement 2014 Edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT). The second would change “other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.” Lastly and most importantly, CMS is considering reducing the meaningful use reporting requirement from 365 days to 90 days.

As Conway noted, this proposed rule is separate from the one for Stage 3 Meaningful Use expected next month. However, the spirit of the two proposals is to reduce burdens on providers while promoting expanded use of CEHRT.

Most recently, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology provided its earliest plans for enabling nationwide interoperability. The first draft version of the interoperability is the first iteration of the federal agency’s long-term plans for enabling a health IT ecosystem and infrastructure with the ability to exchange patient health data efficiently and securely.

“To realize better care and the vision of a learning health system, we will work together across the public and private sectors to clearly define standards, motivate their use through clear incentives, and establish trust in the health IT ecosystem through defining the rules of engagement,” National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, said in a public statement.

The lengthy draft comprises both long- and near-term goals for promoting standards-based exchange among healthcare organizations and providers. The document is current open to public comment through the beginning of April.

At a higher level, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) laid out its plans for shifting healthcare dramatically from volume- to value-based care. Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has committed Medicare to making half of the program’s reimbursements based on value by 2018. Over the next two years, the department is aiming to shift 30 percent of fee-for-service payments into quality-based reimbursement paid through accountable care organizations (ACOs) or bundled payments.

The challenge for the department and the Medicare program is significant considering that accountable care comprises an estimated 20 percent of total Medicare payments. “We believe these goals can drive transformative change, help us manage and track progress, and create accountability for measurable improvement,” Burwell said.

While all these changes took place within HHS, President Barack Obama and members of Congress began revealing their plans for supporting personalized medicine. The President’s Precision Medicine Initiative is already on the table and offers $215 million to support the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and ONC. Meanwhile, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce is moving forward with the discussion phase of its 21st Century Cures initiative which aims at speeding along patient-centered regulation and supporting medical researchers, clinical data sharing, clinical research, and product regulation.

All in all, the last week of the first month of 2015 may go down in history at a pivotal moment in the real transformation of healthcare in the United States.


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Is Physician Fear of ICD-10 Turning Them Off Preparation? | EHRintelligence.com

Is Physician Fear of ICD-10 Turning Them Off Preparation? | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

There are a lot of reasons for healthcare professionals to dislike the notion of ICD-10.  More mandates, more money, more work, and more complications that do nothing but take highly-trained physicians away from the business of patient care have been repeatedly cited as reasons why the industry should just forget the new code set all together.  But new research from AHIMA shows that frustration, empty pockets, and exhaustion may not be the only things slowing down the ICD-10 adoption process.  Many physicians in a series of focus groups expressed straight-up fear about how the new codes will impact their practices – and even more worryingly, expected their EHR vendors and billing services to do most of the heavy lifting as October 1, 2015 draws near.

“ICD-10 is scary for most people,” one physician admitted during one of the interview sessions.  The large-scale changes required to bring clinical documentation up to the appropriate level of detail and specificity are of great concern to many physicians, not only due to necessary changes in their workflow, but also because of the uncertain impact on their reimbursement.

Physicians may be jittery about the unknowns of the future, but they aren’t necessarily being proactive about addressing them.  Blaming a lack of simple educational tools, comprehensive resources, and specialty-specific guides to clinical documentation improvement (CDI), physicians in the focus groups are generally taking a wait-and-see approach to problems that may arise from documentation issues.  They will address issues as they occur and learn as they go after implementation.  They expect their EHR and billing system vendors to provide them with templates and order sets that will make documentation easier, and tend to think the biggest problems will only hit providers who perform a wide variety of procedures or see very complex patients.

“I have not done anything except read an article or two about how codes are going to increase in ICD-10,” a participant said. “I am relying on my billing service to do that. With respect to the hospital, they have not really given us any formal training for ICD-10 at all.”

“Physicians…typically don’t want to spend very much time on training for things like this,” added another. “It’s hard to engage them, so finding a set of materials that they will respond to positively would be valuable.”  Hiring an HIM or CDI professional to develop educational programs and train physicians on ICD-10 issues seemed an attractive path for some physicians, but others worried that hospitals with the resources to maintain an HIM department may only invest in significant training for inpatient coding, leaving the less lucrative outpatient coding aside.

“Hospital coding is totally depending on ICD-9 and as they convert to 10, they will do the training (for inpatient). But that is inpatient. What about outpatient? The hospital will train you as they have a vested interest. For outpatient, I don’t know,” remarked a participant.

“For surgeons, nothing came from formal groups; most of the information regarding ICD-10 preparation and training would come from the hospital side as they have the best interest in training the physicians mainly for hospital utilization and reimbursement purposes,” agreed another.

Will EHR vendors and billing partners pick up the slack?  Physicians certainly hoped so, believing that vendors would provide training and assistance if their hospitals and specialty associations didn’t give them adequate education.  The groups called ICD-10 a “new language” for them to learn, and put specialty educational materials at the top of their wish lists.  One requested “ICD-10 for dummies dumbed down by specialty,” while others asked for easy-to-understand crosswalks and a top-ten list of the most frequent reasons claims are being rejected.

The problem, many of the responses seem to indicate, is that ICD-10 isn’t meeting physicians where they are.  CDI itself is not the issue, nor is the extra burden of added time and education, even if the thought of spending a few lunch breaks or extra evenings in a specificity seminar isn’t enticing.  ICD-10 has taken on a life of its own as the big bad wolf of the healthcare industry, its shadow of trepidation growing deeper each time the new code set is delayed.  Many physicians want to view the changes as a positive development, but feel that available resources aren’t helping them do so.  “Articles on ICD-10 are fear-based,” said a participant.  “I try not to go there.”

So where will they go?  To health information management professionals, hopefully, or to CDI experts offering outsourcing services or workshop materials that will preempt the watch-and-wait attitude that may result in significant reimbursement disruptions.  It isn’t fear mongering to say that preparing in advance for ICD-10 is a wiser course of action than simply hoping that the storm will pass by without serious damage, or letting fear of the unknown preclude the search for resources that will meet a specialist’s particular needs.  ICD-10 will require effort, but the industry has been preparing for the switch for a long time, and the right training is available to those who look for it.

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FDA Expands EHR Data Analytics with Active Surveillance System

FDA Expands EHR Data Analytics with Active Surveillance System | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The Food and Drug Administration’s Sentinel Initiative, one of the first active surveillance infrastructures focused on identifying patient safety issues related to pharmaceuticals and other medical products, will expand past its pilot phase this year, announced Janet Woodcock, MD, Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in a blog post.  As a planned continuation of the Mini-Sentinel project, the full-scale system will allow the FDA to leverage advanced EHR data analytics by scanning millions of files for adverse events linked to drugs that fall under the Administration’s purview.

“Over the past five years, the Mini-Sentinel pilot program has established secure access to the electronic healthcare data of more than 178 million patients across the country, enabling researchers to evaluate a great deal of valuable safety information,” Woodcock writes. “While protecting the identity of individual patients we can get valuable information from Mini-Sentinel that helps us better understand potential safety issues, and share with you information on how to use medicines safely. We have used Mini-Sentinel to explore many safety issues, helping FDA enhance our safety surveillance capabilities, and giving us valuable input in decision-making on drugs and vaccines.”

The Sentinel Initiative differs from previous drug safety monitoring efforts in that it allows FDA researchers to actively dive into EHR data and insurance claims to analyze potential adverse events and establish links to specific pharmaceutical products.  This allows the FDA to work more quickly to identify problems than if they continued to rely on voluntary reporting alone.  Mini-Sentinel has previously confirmed the safety of two vaccines intended to protect infants against rotavirus after the voluntary recall of a third product that raised the risk of intussusception in patients who received the immunization.

The expansion of the project will build upon successful use cases from Mini-Sentinel, Woodcock says.  The FDA will refine its EHR data analytics methodologies as it continues to grow into what the Administration hopes will be a national resource at the center of an industry-wide collaboration between researchers, pharmaceutical developers, and other healthcare stakeholders.

The success of this vision relies on cooperation from academic and research partners, all of whom will need to further develop industry data standards for the system to function effectively.  “This work will allow computer systems to better ‘talk’ to each other and, ultimately will lead to better treatment decisions as clinicians will have a more complete picture of their patients’ medical histories, including visits with other providers,” Woodcock wrote in a previous blog post touting the success of the pilot system.  “Defining standards for capturing data from clinical trials, and using standard terms for items such as ‘adverse events’ or ‘treatments’ will allow researchers to combine data from different clinical studies to learn more.”

“From the outset, the goals of the Sentinel Initiative have been large and of ground-breaking scale,” she concludes. “We knew it would be years in the making, but Mini-Sentinel’s successful completion marks important progress. We look forward to continuing and expanding our active surveillance capabilities as we now transition to the full-scale Sentinel program.”


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EHRs: It's time to start from scratch

EHRs: It's time to start from scratch | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

A lot has been written about how awful electronic health record (EHR) systems are. They are overwrought, overengineered, dreadfully dull baroque systems with awkward user interfaces that look like they were designed in the early 1990s. They make it too easy to cut and paste data to meet billing level requirements, documenting patient care that never happened and creating multipage mega-notes, full of words signifying exactly nothing.


They have multitudes of unnecessary meaningful use buttons that must be clicked because the government says so. They have data formats that are incompatible with other EHR systems. Doctors fumble around trying to enter orders using electronic physician order entry (POE). There is terrible user support. And so on. At the end of the day there is decreased productivity, doctors are unhappy, and patients are unhappy. Big brother in the form of the hospital and the state have more big data to look at, but certainly there doesn’t seem to be many benefits to patient care. The major benefit is to the companies that make these proprietary closed-source EHR systems. They get obscenely rich.

But surely there can be benefits to EHR systems? What about the ease of access to the patient’s chart? No more waiting for the chart to come up from medical records. In fact, no more medical records department at all! Aren’t we saving health care dollars by cutting out those jobs, as well as medical transcriptionist jobs and unit secretary jobs. Surely paper charts were worse?

Doctors should not turn away from information technology. After all, we use all sorts of sophisticated computer technology every day, from the internals of the ultrasound machine to the software running an MRI scanner, to the recording system used in electrophysiology procedures. There is a role for technology in our record keeping as well.

The problems with current EHR systems are manifold. They are hack jobs, with nightmarish interfaces that obviously were never user tested. They are overly ambitious, trying to do all things and thus doing nothing well. They are ridiculous. I mean, having doctors enter orders directly into a computer — seriously? EHR companies have no incentive to improve their user interfaces, because government mandates require that they are used no matter how awful they are. Those who don’t adopt these systems are penalized by loss of Medicare dollars.

I think it is an interesting thought experiment to consider how EHR systems would have been designed if they had been allowed to evolve naturally, without the frenzied poorly thought out incentives that exist in the real world. Imagine a world where physicians, the primary users of these systems, drove development and adoption of these systems. Imagine that there were no mandates or penalties from the government to adopt these systems. If a system was developed that improved physician workflow, it would be adopted. Nothing that slowed productivity, as the current EHR systems do, would ever be bought by a practice if the physicians made the call. Imagine EHR companies visiting practices, analyzing workflows, seeing areas that could be improved by computers, and recognizing areas that wouldn’t, at least with current technology. Imagine EHR companies testing their user interfaces using doctors from a spectrum of computer experience, as major software companies like Apple and Google do. Imagine them competing with each other not on how many modules they can provide, but on how few keystrokes or mouse clicks their system used to do the same work as another system. Imagine no government mandates for meaningful use, no dummy buttons that say “click me” but otherwise do nothing.

Think about how you would design a system. Certainly it is useful to have old records available online and we would want to keep that. The problem is how to get them there. Having physicians enter data is probably the least efficient way. Dictation and handwriting are still the fastest data entry methods. If Dragon is good enough (I’m not convinced it is) use it, or keep your transcriptionists around. They are very nice people who need jobs anyway. If handwriting recognition is good enough (I don’t think it is yet) use that, otherwise just store the written notes as pictures and be satisfied. In the ideal world, rather than force physicians to become typists and data entry specialists, we would wait until computer artificial intelligence was developed enough to allow the physicians to continue to do things the old way, with the computer processing the doctors’ notes transparently. If the technology isn’t there yet, develop it, but don’t push it on us prematurely.

Medical records primarily should exist to document important information about patients. It should not be primarily a means to ensure maximum billing of patients. If we eliminate that aspect, EHRs become much simpler. I would envision a small tablet that the MD carries everywhere with him or her. Keep the old workflow. Pull up patient records on the tablet. Write notes on the tablet in handwriting or dictate into it. The tablet transcribes the input and files it appropriately.

Need to give patient orders? Select from some templates or write them in. If the software is not good enough to transcribe written orders on a tablet, hire some unit secretaries to do this like they used to. Let them learn the intricacies of computerized order entry, and let the doctor deal with the intricacies of making diagnoses, doing procedures, and looking patients in the eye and grasping their hands when they are ailing — things that doctors do best. Minimize the interactions with the computer and maximize the interactions with the patients.

A good EHR system can simplify drug reconciliation, pull in drug data from patient pharmacies, and automatically identify patients who are being “overprescribed” pain meds. The system can look up recent relevant medical articles, can show appropriate medical guidelines, and can provide sophisticated medical calculators. There are so many good things computers can do for medicine. They’ve gotten an awfully bad rap from the current iteration of EHR systems. I think the technology exists or can exist to do all these good things, but there is no incentive if we remain satisfied with the status quo. The current systems don’t do any of these things. They just get in the way.

If we lived in an ideal world it would be time to chuck the lot and start over.


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Are Best Of Breed EMRs Going Out Of Fashion? | Hospital EMR and EHR

Are Best Of Breed EMRs Going Out Of Fashion? | Hospital EMR and EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

This week, I visited a hospital which belonged to a health system going with Epic. This hospital, one of the smaller facilities in the chain, was running Picis in the ED and (I think) Cerner throughout, but the decision had been made to convert everything to Epic sometime soon, a tech told me.

I can’t say the news was surprising, but it was disappointing nonetheless. The community hospital in question has given me excellent service, and my guess is that when Epic barrels in, it will lose its way — at least for a while — frazzling the staff and decreasing the quality of their interaction with me.

However, I ‘d better get used to this trend. As Healthcare Technology Online editor in chief Ken Congdon notes in an excellent editorial, the pendulum is definitely swinging toward enterprise-wide EMR implementations, a direction encouraged by the standardized demands imposed nationwide by Meaningful Use.

If interoperability was easier to pull off, things might be different. But with HL7 and other integration standards and languages still not quite up to the job, one can see the sense of going with an enterprise option.

Here’s the story one CIO told Congdon as to why he’s deploying Siemens Soarian solution:

Michael Mistretta, CIO of MedCentral Health System  [said:]  “Vendor management was a key consideration in our decision to use a single vendor approach to EMR implementation,” says Mistretta. “With a single vendor, I only have one finger to point at. It simplifies my environment because I don’t have Siemens telling me it’s McKesson’s problem and vice versa. Also, the built-in interoperability is key. There is a trade-off in the fact that the system does not provide prime functionality to certain departments or specialties within our health system, but at this point in time, it’s much more beneficial for our organization to have the ability to share data across the continuum of care quickly and easily.” 

CIOs of large hospitals also told Congdon that enterprise system replacements were much cheaper than going through a long-term, highly-complex integration effort.

In an interesting twist, however, hospital IT leaders from mid-sized to smaller hospitals have reached the opposite conclusion, Congdon reports. They’ve been telling him that buying an enterprise system would be much more expensive than sticking with what they had and making it interoperate.

I see a market opening here. If enterprise EMR vendors can get their pricing in line for smaller hospitals, they may have a lot more wins coming their way than they expected.  Interesting stuff.



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General Surgery News - Promise of EMR Systems Yet To Be Fulfilled for Many

General Surgery News - Promise of EMR Systems Yet To Be Fulfilled for Many | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

For more than a decade, electronic medical records (EMRs) have been called a critical step forward in modern medicine. The idea was that transitioning from paper to electronic records would increase efficiency, safety and savings in health care. The potential for EMRs to make patient records more accessible, reduce medical errors, allow medical institutions to communicate more seamlessly and save the health care industry billions of dollars each year was too tempting to pass up.

Despite this, the reality of EMRs seems not to have lived up to the hype. EMR systems have been costly to implement and are often laborious and confusing to learn. There is no universal system that all physicians can use; instead, medical professionals are faced with more than 100 systems, all competing for users and many of which cannot communicate with one another. But perhaps most notably, these systems do not appear to improve patient care, as promised, and in some cases may make care worse.

Nevertheless, the use of EMRs has ballooned in the past 10 years. In 2005, fewer than 25% of physicians’ offices and hospitals had adopted an EMR system, but today more than 80% use one. Despite the rapid spread, the central concerns about EMR systems remain the same: high cost, lack of standardization and interoperability, privacy issues and inferior patient care (Health Aff 2005;24:1103-1117).

But even before this spike in usage, many medical professionals were already well aware of the issues. In a 2004 report, researchers who had conducted 90 interviews with EMR managers and physicians found that “most physicians using EMRs spent more time per patient for a period of months or even years after EMR implementation. The increase resulted in longer workdays or fewer patients seen, or both, during that initial period …. Most respondents or their colleagues considered even highly regarded, industry-leading EMRs to be challenging to use because of the multiplicity of screens, options and navigational aids” (Health Aff 2004;23:116-126).

In a 2013 survey conducted by RAND Health, and sponsored by the American Medical Association, physicians echoed many of the same sentiments. In fact, physicians rated EMRs as a main reason for their job dissatisfaction. Summing up the results of the report, the RAND researchers wrote: “Despite recognizing the value of EHRs [electronic health records] in concept, many physicians are struggling to use their EHRs, which they describe as negatively impacting patient care in several important ways and undermining their professional satisfaction.”

In the study, the authors interviewed 24 practices about EHRs, 22 of whom were currently using a system. On the plus side, about one-third of the physicians reported that the EHR improved their job satisfaction and 61% said it improved quality of care. These physicians noted that their EHR system enhanced their abilities to access patient data at work and at home, provided guideline-based care and tracked patients’ disease.

In contrast, many physicians also expressed concerns over their EHRs, with about 20% saying they would prefer to return to paper charts. The central issues boiled down to inferior patient interactions, an inability to exchange information between different systems and a labor-intensive and time-consuming learning curve and data entry.

“Just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better,” said Peter Kim, MD, associate professor of surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York City, who was not involved in the study. “For instance, the EMR giant Epic received $302 million from New York City, in 2013, for use in about 11 New York City public hospitals. But even within the same system, not all Epic EMRs are alike. An EMR’s functionality depends on who is programming it as well as the local needs of the institution. The same system may end up working well in one hospital, but poorly in another.”

Although people often assume that technology will reduce errors, that also is not the case. “In our hospital, administrators try to make our EMR sound perfect, but in reality, we have encountered huge errors and have had no audits of the system,” said Guy Voeller, MD, FACS, professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis.

Along these lines, Dr. Kim recalled an incident when a toxic drug dose was written for the wrong patient, which missed all of the EMR system’s checks and balances. “Although that error could have happened with the old system, it wasn’t prevented by the EMR as it should have been,” Dr. Kim said. “We still need that human element in care, where a person is checking and verifying orders.”

Regarding patient interactions, physicians in the RAND study who complained that EHRs interfered with in-person patient care found that they were forced either to divide their attention between the patient and the computer or to give patients their attention but then spend hours inputting data afterward.

“With EHRs, physicians and nurses are looking at a computer screen and have their backs to the patient,” said Dr. Voeller. “Physicians and nurses are forced to devote time to their computer, not their patient.”

Another report revealed similar results. A team at Medscape surveyed 18,575 physicians in 25 different specialties from April 9, 2014, to June 3, 2014, about their EMR use. Of those, 4%, or 743 participants, were general surgeons.

The report found that about one-third of respondents felt their EHR systems worsened clinical operations and patient services, although about the same percentage reported the opposite. In terms of patient interactions, 70% of respondents said their system decreased their face-to-face time with patients and 57% said it lessened their ability to see patients, while about one-third felt their system enhanced their ability to respond to patients and effectively manage treatment plans.

Patient privacy was another major worry for physicians, approximately half of whom expressed concern about losing patient information because of a technological malfunction or about their lack of control over who can access patient data. About 40% of participants were also concerned about HIPAA compliance and hackers getting to data.

Similarly, of physicians who opted not to purchase an EHR system, the top reason was that the technology would interfere with the doctor–patient relationship (40% of responses). The other most frequent complaints were that EHR systems are too expensive (37%), and that the incentives and penalties from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are not worth the hassle of adopting a system (32%). Other reasons were that EHRs hurt patient privacy (22%) and were too complicated to learn (16%).

The financial burden of EMRs appeared to be increasing as well. According to the Medscape survey, in 2014, 23% of respondents said their EHR system cost $50,000 or more per physician to purchase and install, whereas in 2012, only 7% of respondents said their EHR system cost that much. Another report that evaluated the cost of EHRs, using survey data from 49 community practices in a large EHR pilot project, found that “the average physician would lose $43,743 over five years; just 27% of practices would have achieved a positive return on investment; and only an additional 14% of practices would have come out ahead had they received the $44,000 federal meaningful-use incentive” (Health Aff 2013;32:562-570).

Currently, Dr. Kim said, the federal government is forcing institutions to have an EMR system, which is driving many physicians out of business and into a hospital on a salary or into retirement.

“Besides the cost of implementation, evidence already is accumulating that doctors order more—not fewer—imaging studies when [an] EMR is used,” wrote David Cossman, MD, a vascular surgeon in Los Angeles, in a 2012 piece in General Surgery News (May 2012, page 1).

As for billing, Dr. Voeller noted, “the way we bill through EMRs lends itself to fraud because physicians can document more complex visits that come with a higher price tag and reimbursement.”

Amid the confusion and ambivalence, some surgeons are holding out hope that as companies iron out the kinks in the current systems, EMRs may eventually live up to the early hype. Others remain skeptical that there is a magic bullet that will vastly simplify and improve EMRs.

Reflecting on the current state of the technology, Dr. Cossman wrote: “The big problem is that HAL [the sinister computer in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey”] is once again stalking us with the sweet siren song of untold efficiencies, cost containment and protection from human fallibility if we only move over to the passenger seat and let it drive. Don’t believe a word of it. Medicine cannot be practiced on autopilot. We will crash and burn without the human touch at the controls.”



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Why Don’t 35% of Patients Know that Patient Portals Exist? | EHRintelligence.com

Why Don’t 35% of Patients Know that Patient Portals Exist? | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
Patient portals are becoming important tools for engagement and population health, but patients are largely unaware of the technology.

While patients are generally enthusiastic about viewing their EHR data and engaging with their providers online, a concerning number of patients are unaware of the possibilities of using a patient portal, finds a new survey from Xerox.  Among the 64 percent of patients who are not portal users, 35 percent did not know a portal was available to them, and 31 percent stated that their providers had never mentioned the technology to them.  Despite the widespread lack of knowledge, 57 percent of non-users said they would be more engaged and more proactive in their own healthcare if they had access to their data online.

“With providers facing regulatory changes, mounting costs, and patients who increasingly seek access to more information, our survey points to an opportunity to address issues by simply opening dialogue with patients about patient portals,” said Tamara St. Claire, Chief Innovation Officer of Commercial Healthcare for Xerox. “Educating patients will empower them to participate more fully in their own care while helping providers demonstrate that electronic health records are being used in a meaningful way.”

The survey indicates a generation gap when it comes to how patients use online tools.  While baby boomers are more likely to view patient portals as a utilitarian feature by making appointments online (70 percent), refilling prescriptions (58 percent), and communicating through emails with their physicians (60 percent), millennials view portals as an informational hub.  Younger patients want to see personalized information (44 percent), tailored care plans, details about related services from their providers (44 percent), and industry news that might relate to their issues and concerns (23 percent).

Perhaps surprisingly, baby boomers, aged 55 to 64, were among the most frequent users of patient portals.  Eighty-three percent of this age group indicated that they already do or would be very interested in communicating with their healthcare providers through a portal.  Millennials were more likely to want mobile access to online tools, with 43 percent stating their preference for smartphone and tablet interfaces.

Providers can help to shape patient engagement – and help themselves to meet the 5 percent patient engagement threshold included in Stage 2 meaningful use – by taking the time to educate patients about their options and opportunities.  Reinforcing the idea of signing up for a patient portal account at multiple points along the patients’ journey through the office, from check-in to follow-up, can help to secure a patient’s interest.  And physicians themselves should take the lead, St. Claire asserts.

“Physicians just aren’t having that dialogue,” she said to HealthITAnalytics.  “When we look at some of the best practices out there, we see that having that conversation multiple times along the patient’s path through the office is most effective.  And we think having that conversation directly with their physician is going to be most important.  People really want to hear it from their physician, because they’re that trusted source.  Even as medicine is changing, having that talk with the physician is probably going to have the most impact.”



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What Is A Medical Grade Computer? -

What Is A Medical Grade Computer? - | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Not all innovations lead to improved patient care or lower operating costs, but many of them do so your health care operations needs to stay current with the latest breakthroughs. This may require initial investments of money and training but the payoff can be worthwhile. Medical grade computers are a technology that can improve patient outcomes and make your practice more efficient.

Currently, there is no standard definition of a medical grade computer, but there are certain features to look for when selecting one for your health care setting. The first consideration is basic functionality. All medical grade computers need to be able to run 24/7 as healthcare never stops. Then, check to make sure that the computer supports HIPAA compliant electronic health record (EHR) practices and that it is compatible with your current operating system and software. Increasingly, medical facilities are requiring any electronic device used to carry certifications regarding electrical charge and flow from the device. Some of the common certifications desired are CE, FCC class A or B, EN60601-1 and UL60601-1. Finally, another component of a medical computer may be an anti-bacterial coating over the enclosure which helps cut down the spread of MRSA and other infections.

Use of Medical Grade Computers for EHR

Some physicians still hold out for paper health records, but EHRs are now the norm. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 includes provisions for financial incentives for Medicare providers who demonstrate meaningful use of technology for EHR by meeting Stage 1 and Stage 2 criteria.

Some benefits of storing patient records on medical grade computers include the following:

  • Complete set of records with no risk of paper loss of important data.
  • Accurate records with less chance for human error upon data entry or retrieval.
  • Less chance of conflicting treatments, such as drug interactions.
  • Faster diagnosis, since all information is available in the single patient file.
  • Easy and clear viewing of electronic imaging records such as Xrays and MRIs.

A good medical grade computer needs to quickly process complete patient health records to get through a patient visit in a timely manner. As patient privacy is becoming more of a concern, these computers must be able to maintain HIPAA compliance according to the HITECH Act within the ARRA of 2009. Look for a computer with the following characteristics:

  • Supports the operating system needed and patient record software.
  • Securely connects to a network to allow various medical providers, but no unauthorized users, to access patient records.
  • Can easily be backed up to prevent data loss.
  • Can have RFID reader or barcode scanner type attachments if needed for use in tracking treatment.

Surgical and Diagnostic Applications

Medical grade computers have the potential to assist in patient care because of imaging capabilities. For example, computers with the proper graphics processor, CPU performance, screen display, and software compatibility can visualize patients’ inner workings to guide surgeons during surgery. In diagnostics, computers display MRI and CT scans providing radiologists with critical information. New software and high definition screens enable a diagnostician to see better than before and more quickly detect what they are looking for.

Medical Computers provide a platform for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) files which can be used anywhere in the hospital to display medical images such as Ultrasounds and X-rays. This lets all members of the health care team access the information needed at the time they focus their attention on the patient to provide diagnostic and monitoring services. When looking for a medical grade computer, consider exactly what it will be used for to make sure you select one that supports the necessary operating system, visual display, and software needed.

Compatibility with Your Current Setup

Medical grade computers are a costly investment but do provide a high ROI (Return On Investment). Justification for allocating the money upfront includes the potential for better patient care, along with reduced operating costs due to greater efficiency. A good medical grade computer is compatible with your current technology network and software, as well as configurable for future applications.

Cleanliness for Your Health Care Environment

Computers and computer equipment may seem clean, but invisible bacteria can easily build up. Typical PCs are not sterile enough for a hospital or other health care environment where staying sanitized is a top priority. In fact, a standard home or office computer may have three times the number of germs as a toilet seat. A medical grade computer has features that promote hygiene such as the following.

  • Fanless design to prevent debris from building up in the fan.
  • A fully sealed enclosure, which is easy to clean with sanitizer without getting moisture inside.
  • An antimicrobial touchscreen and enclosure, which can prevent the spread of MRSA.
  • Fewer wires so the room remains easy to clean.

Medical grade computers are essential in modern health care settings to increase efficiency and support patient care. When you search for a medical grade computer, make sure it supports all the technical functions you need and contributes to a sanitary environment.



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EHR Quality Reporting Rewarded through $36.3M in HHS Funding | EHRintelligence.com

EHR Quality Reporting Rewarded through $36.3M in HHS Funding | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
EHR quality reporting led to $4.9 million in ACA awards to 332 health centers.

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has rewarded the quality improvement efforts of health centers with $36.3 million in Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding.

“This funding rewards health centers that have a proven track record in clinical quality improvement, which translates to better patient care, and it allows them to expand and improve their systems and infrastructure to bring the highest quality primary care services to the communities they serve,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in an official statement.

The rewards spans four distinct kinds of quality improvement achievements.

The first award went to 361 health centers and totaled $11.2 million for health center quality leaders, those clinical settings scoring in the top 30 percent of all health centers based on best overall clinical outcomes.

The second award of $2.5 million rewarded 57 national quality leaders for surpassing national clinical standards for chronic disease, preventive care, and perinatal/prenatal care.

Clinical quality improvers — demonstrated at least a 10-percent improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013 — were recipients of largest sum of awards, $17.7 million. The award goes to 1,058 health centers.

The last category of awards recognized 332 EHR reporters which received $4.9 million for reporting clinical quality measures (CQMs) for their entire patient population.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), ACA-established Health Center Program comprises close to 1,300 health centers operating in more than 9,200 delivery sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories and treating approximately 21.7 million patients.

The ACA earmarked $11 billion to be disbursed over a five-year period to support the creation, expansion, and operation of health centers.

In the past year alone, 43 Health Center Controlled Networks received $21 million in rewards specifically for EHR adoption and meaningful use with requirements to “include at least 10 Health Center Program grantees and overall will provide support to more 700 health centers nationwide.”

In a recent brief, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) demonstrated that incentive dollars and looming financial penalties are driving EHR adoption and meaningful use.

The chance to benefit from tens of thousands of dollars from the EHR Incentive Programs was cited as a major influence for 62% of physician providers participating in the 2013 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Physician Workflow Survey. Another major factor were the ONC-funded regional extension centers whose availability during Stage 1 Meaningful Use and beyond influenced 35 percent of respondents to adopt a certified EHR technology and demonstrate meaningful use as part of the EHR Incentive Programs.

The major takeaway from the HHS and ONC announcements is the integral role health IT-related funding in the form of incentives or awards plays in transforming the care delivery and coordination through the innovative use of technology.



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How to Adopt Unique Device Identifiers for Medical Devices | EHRintelligence.com

How to Adopt Unique Device Identifiers for Medical Devices | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
Unique device identifiers can improve tracking of medical devices for research and patient safety.
In response to new FDA requirements for all medical devices to have a unique device identifier (UDI) within the next few years, the Brookings Institute has helped to develop a roadmap for adopting and integrating UDI technology in order to improve patient safety and provide better data for research and analytics.  The roadmap includes a number of critical steps to help bring UDIs into provider systems, administrative transactions, and patient-directed tools.
“The benefits of UDI implementation across the health care system are significant and, while the path to full implementation is complex, there are relatively straightforward steps that can be done now to begin realizing many of them,” the document says.  “Recording UDIs at the point-of-care (POC) in electronic health records (EHRs) and in claims data could significantly enhance the nation’s ability to conduct medical device safety surveillance and manage recalls.”
“Other benefits include: efficient identification and communication of device safety concerns, active learning about the long-term quality and performance of devices, facilitation of premarket device approval/clearance and expanded indications for existing devices, data collection to support better value, increased reimbursement transparency, and more accurate and efficient supply chain processes.”
The recommendations include the following:
• Providers should incorporate UDIs into their EHR systems, and may consider adopting automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technology to make the process more efficient.  Patient safety reporting should be automated.
• UDIs should be integrated across the entire healthcare ecosystem, including through the supply chain, clinical processes, and revenue cycle management to achieve the highest return on investment.
• UDIs should be incorporated into the criteria for Stage 3 meaningful use as well as the EHR certification criteria.
• The device identifier portion of the UDI should be included as a situational element at the claim detail level for high risk, implantable devices
• Patient advocacy groups, the FDA, and providers should work together to promote patient education on the subject of UDIs, and encourage patients to be aware of their devices and any potential recalls or issues related to their equipment
• UDIs should be integrated into personal health records to easily provide patients with appropriate device data.  Developers should collaborate with patient organizations to provide proper resources related to UDIs.
• Provider systems, payers, and other stakeholders should commission studies and pilots to highlight use cases for UDIs and demonstrate the benefits of integrating medical device data into the workflow.
The roadmap focuses primarily on the highest risk devices, which are typically implantable, but adds that all medical devices that impact a patient’s care, even transient equipment such as MRI machines, can significantly benefit from UDI labeling and tracking.  “The UDI system, which will be phased in over several years, represents a landmark step towards improving patient safety, modernizing device post-market surveillance, and facilitating device innovation,” the roadmap says. “These promised benefits will only be fully realized with the adoption and integration of UDIs into the health care delivery system.”



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Can True EHR Customization Help Physician Practices Survive?

Can True EHR Customization Help Physician Practices Survive? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
In the rapidly-evolving EHR market, one size definitely does not fit all and true EHR customization can make all the difference.

It is a commonly-held belief that the healthcare system in the United States is in need of more than a fairly steep overhaul. In fact, the once highly sought after profession of doctor has shifted to become one of the more embattled jobs nationwide.

Many healthcare professionals are now forced into the impossible situation of navigating exploitation by insurance companies and government regulations, all while grappling with the challenges of providing quality patient care, keeping their practices afloat, earning a living and paying back often-exorbitant medical school loans. If anything, in today’s world it would surprise most people to know how little doctors actually make, relative to the effort and investment in their careers they are required to put in, day in and day out.

This is a critical issue facing the US today, as tens of thousands of physicians are closing their practices every year and either retiring or becoming employees of large healthcare corporations. This is having a significant impact on accessibility and affordability of medical care. With fewer doctors available and many individuals seeking care from “corporatized” healthcare providers, not only is the personal relationship between doctor and patient lost, the cost of medical care at corporate-run medical facilities is substantially higher than ever before.

Capable and cost-effective?

So, the question becomes — how do doctors maximize their healthcare practice and record management processes, cost-efficiently and effectively? Enter the wide variety of EHR and EMR solutions that have flooded the market in recent years, each promising to streamline the process and take the guesswork out of compliance to the government’s evolving mandates that regulate healthcare record-keeping.

In addition to managing healthcare records, doctors also need a secure and HIPAA compliant scheduling system, medical devices integration, practice management system, e-prescription, lab interfaces, patient engagement, and tele-medicine. Of course, these systems must also be equipped with disaster recovery and business continuity safeguards.

And while there are many current solutions on the market which range from open source to a one-stop package that practices implement directly on their end, they miss one crucial element. Each doctor practices his/her profession in their own unique way, and this extends to all aspects of their work, from patient care to record keeping and practice management. Just as Dr. Lawrence ‘Rusty’ Hofmann in The Huffington Post, describes it, EHRs are like Model T Ford: Any Color You Want As Long As It’s Black.” The majority of these solutions hitting the market today just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to really addressing the needs of our country’s doctors and healthcare practices.

Furthermore, while the creators of many of these packaged EHR solutions claim to be “customizable,” they are actually merely “configurable.” Instead of allowing the user the autonomy and flexibility to create a system with parameters that align with their own specific practice and its operational goals, editable functions are typically limited to creating additional fields in the forms — barely paying lip service to the task of meeting the true needs of healthcare professionals in this country.

These solutions also require heavy reliance on a computer screen, which often hinders a doctor’s ability to provide the standard of care and bedside manner that comes with more face-to-face interactions inquiring into pain, ailments, and body language from patients. This seminal aspect of the healthcare field is threatened by one-size-fits-all systems that squelch the nuances between practices and the differing techniques doctors use to treat their patients. This diversity between providers is central to continued advancements in the medical field and breakthroughs in patient care and disease treatment.

Diversity and true EHR customization rule

So then, what is the answer? In my opinion, built from countless conversations with doctors on this issue, it is EHR systems that provide an easy-to-use interface that are truly customized to fit the ways in which each doctor treats patients, approaches his/her field, and manages their practice, in a cost-effective package that does not require a huge up-front investment. Additionally, everyone within the practice should have access to the system, to ensure continuity in an often-volatile EHR market that typically sees 45-50% churn annually.

In short, it is crucial that developers of these software tools accommodate doctors’ needs first, rather than create a framework that expects doctors to squeeze themselves into a pre-defined structure, often asking them to sacrifice their individuality, professional approach, and expertise.

This approach, which represents incredible opportunity in the once thought to be saturated EHR market, is the essential step to rescuing our doctors from their often embattled position, bringing them back to the esteemed position they once held, all while improving our overall patient experiences and outcomes in the process.


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AMA Lists EHRs, Meaningful Use, ICD-10 as Top 2015 Challenges

AMA Lists EHRs, Meaningful Use, ICD-10 as Top 2015 Challenges | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The New Year’s celebrations may be dying down this week as the healthcare industry gets back to work, but the American Medical Association (AMA) wants providers to keep a watchful eye on ten major challenges that they will face during the year ahead.  From ICD-10 to meaningful use to improving population health management and chronic disease care, the AMA list highlights some common complaints.

At the top of the list is a familiar refrain: the ongoing burden of regulatory initiatives such as meaningful use that have frustrated physicians for years.  The AMA has long advocated for changes to the program, and plans to “intensify” its efforts to push CMS towards greater flexibility for the program, especially after more than 50% of providers were notified that they will be receiving Medicare payment adjustments in 2015.

The overly-strict requirements of the EHR Incentive Programs “are hindering participation in the program, forcing physicians to purchase expensive electronic health records with poor usability that disrupts workflow, creates significant frustrations and interferes with patient care, and imposes an administrative burden,” AMA President Elect Steven J. Stack, MD said in a statement.

Coupled with meaningful use is the AMA’s other nemesis – ICD-10.   While the organization has tried everything from a Twitter rally to Congressional letters to industry appeals in order to continue delaying the code set indefinitely, the new list of challenges takes a bit of a different tack.  Instead of reiterating the AMA’s opposition to the codes, the list simply says that the AMA “has advocated for end-to-end testing, which will take place between January and March and should provide insight on potential disruptions from ICD-10 implementation, currently scheduled for Oct. 1.”

“Given the potential that policymakers may not approve further delays, ICD-10 resources can help physician practices ensure they are prepared for implementation of the new code set,” the section continues, which is some of the mildest language the AMA has used about the ICD-10 transition for some time.

Is there a little hint of resignation to defeat now that Congress itself has backed the 2015 implementation date, or will the AMA continue its lengthy fight until the very end?  The degree to which the AMA pushes resistance instead of readiness over the next few months may impact how many providers are prepared for the deadline and how many continue to pin their hopes on a postponement.

Other items on the list that will impact physicians in 2015 include the rampant abuse of prescription medications, the spread of diabetes and heart disease, and the need to adequately modernize medical education and the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics.

The list also highlights the need to continue medical research and the sharing of clinical knowledge, to which end the AMA is launching JAMA Oncology, a new journal in its network of publications.  Physician satisfaction and the financial sustainability of medical practices is also on the AMA’s mind as it beta tests professional tools to help physicians chart a profitable course for the future.

To round out the top ten issues for the healthcare industry in the coming year, the AMA includes the need for reform to the Medicare physician payment system after the latest temporary Congressional SGR fix in April, the need to ensure adequate provider networks for patient care, and upcoming judicial rulings on healthcare-related issues such as liability, patient privacy, and the regulation of practices by state licensure boards.


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Why Should Your Practice Have a Cloud-Based EHR? - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers

Why Should Your Practice Have a Cloud-Based EHR? - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

If you’re still debating whether to go with a web-based EHR or a server-based EHR, you should know why a growing number of practices are choosing to go with a cloud EMR.

How does a web-based EMR differ from the older technology of a client server-based EHR system?

A cloud EMR is different (and better, in our opinion) due to the following factors:

Your software is always up to date
With a web-based EMR, the software is always up to date, usually at no additional charge. No more expensive upgrades causing delays; just open the SaaS-based software and you have the latest version.

Rest easy on HIPAA data requirements
Data security is much easier to manage with a web-based system. Cloud EHR vendors can provide much more security for your data than you can internally with office servers. As reported by the Business Insurance site, “Data breaches seem to be everywhere these days except the one place everyone fears—the cloud.” That could be because cloud EMRs offer financial-level security for your data.

Accessibility—work from anywhere
One of the things many users love about the cloud is the ability to work from anywhere—whether it’s e-prescribing from a smartphone or checking a patient record from the beach while on vacation. We don’t recommend you work on your vacation, but we understand the realities of medical practice.

Cloud-based EHR systems allow continued functioning during and immediately after disasters
Hospitals and physicians discovered the benefits of cloud-based data first after Hurricane Katrina and again after Super Storm Sandy; with a web-based system, you can practice (and bill) from anywhere.

Reduced expense for both software and hardware
A cloud-based system is more cost-effective, particularly for small to medium sized practices, since there are no large hardware expenditures and the software expense is a consistent, low subscription rate. You won’t have to plan for large hardware and software expenditures.

Better IT support
Damn it, Jim, you’re a doctor—not an IT person. And you will probably not be able to hire IT support of the same caliber as the staff of a web-based EHR vendor. Why not make use of their resources and eliminate your headaches?

You can use a cloud-based EHR on a mobile device such as an iPad or other tablet
A survey of physicians by web-based EHR review group Software Advice showed that 39% of physicians want to use their EHR on a tablet such as iPad, and in another survey, a majority of patient respondents indicated that they find use of an EHR on a tablet in the exam room to be “not at all bothersome.”

Satisfaction levels are higher among mobile EHR users
A recent survey by tablet-based EHR review group Software Advice found that providers using a mobile EHR expressed twice the satisfaction levels of those using EHRs via non-mobile systems. And as mentioned above, an effective mobile EHR needs to be cloud-based.

It’s particularly important to note that cloud-based systems are nearly always more secure than any system you could set up in your office. For most practices, data security and HIPAA best practices are not their area of expertise—excellent patient care is. But for cloud EMR systems, those areas are key to our success. We are better at it because we must be in order to continue in business. And as mentioned above, the proof is in the lack of data breaches among cloud-based companies.

One proof of the idea that a cloud-based EHR is the best choice is the fact that most EHRs that were originally server-based have since developed cloud-based offerings as well. If server-based technology is state of the art, why are those vendors switching platforms?


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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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Does your EHR meet your organization's unique needs? | Healthcare IT News

Does your EHR meet your organization's unique needs? | Healthcare IT News | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Different healthcare specialties have different electronic health record (EHR) requirements as there is significant variation in care processes, clinical content and decision support across care settings. For example, a primary care facility’s EHR “must-haves” are dramatically different from those of outpatient surgery center. While the primary care provider sees many patients for a variety of reasons, the surgery center delivers more focused, predictable and short-term care with unique workflow requirements. In the same vein, an ophthalmology practice requires technology to capture data from a number of instruments—often more than many other specialties. Likewise, a dermatology provider often completes numerous procedures in one visit, and an inpatient behavioral health setting with group counseling demands yet another approach to capturing and collecting patient care information.

Despite their diverse EHR needs, there is a commonality among these and other medical specialties: each requires a robust EHR that enables providers to easily gather data, completely and accurately document care, smoothly share information and facilitate good communication to achieve the best patient outcomes. To select the right EHR, specialty practices must fully appreciate how the technology addresses their particular needs and requirements.

Five considerations for selecting a specialty-focused EHR

Verifying that an EHR has the features clinicians need to provide care and manage patients is critical to its success. The following five considerations can guide a practice when evaluating an EHR to ensure the technology meets the organization’s clinical and business specifications, strengthening care delivery while safeguarding the practice’s future.

1.    The right content. The first step—and probably the most important—is to look at the depth and breadth of content the solution provides and make sure it fully aligns with the specialty’s requirements. This becomes more complex for a subspecialty. For example, an EHR with strong cardiology features may not meet the distinct needs of a pediatric cardiologist. In these cases, it is also important to select an EHR that can be supplemented with additional subspecialty information to better meet their needs.

2.    Configuration flexibility. When specialty practices can easily configure their EHR to reflect workflow nuances, they can optimize data capture, streamline care and improve outcomes. The EHR should allow physicians to easily configure their own templates, yet provide consistency to maintain a high standard of care. For instance, an OBGYN facility needs EHR flexibility for visits ranging from prenatal care and reproductive endocrinology to annual wellness exams. Physicians should be able to customize these forms to match workflow, yet maintain alignment with ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) standards.

3.    Smooth integration with current technology. Specialty practices often have more diagnostic equipment feeding data into the EHR than primary care practices. For example, an ophthalmology group may have as many as 12 different devices capturing and sending data to the EHR. Because of this, a practice should closely review how well a potential solution interfaces with the practice’s current technology, particularly focusing on how the EHR incorporates the disparate data into workflow. Specialties linked to a hospital or health system should also assess how seamlessly the proposed EHR share key information with the larger organization. Ideally this is bi-directional!

4.    Facilitates the patient experience. Patients can be nervous when they see a specialist, and this can be exacerbated if the physician is more focused on navigating technology rather than talking with the patient. By choosing software that enables patients, medical assistants, nurses and others to capture as much data as possible in the EHR before the doctor enters the room, a practice can allow the physician to focus on the patient’s particular care needs instead of looking at a computer screen to input routine data. Remember, a good EHR gives physicians the right information at the right time to come to the right conclusion while they are in front of the patient. In other words, it keeps the patient at the center of the experience.

5.    Strong, Forward-thinking vendor. Not all vendors are equal, and spending time comparing the various options is a valuable exercise. As part of the vetting process, practices should gauge a vendor’s commitment to their specific clinical specialty and learn about plans for future technology development. In addition, consider the vendor’s organizational and financial strength to sustain the cost of supporting the specialty into the future and keeping up with regulatory compliance.

Although specialty practices have historically avoided jumping feet first into EHR technology, this is no longer an option for organizations that want to sustain and build referral volumes. In fact, by selecting and implementing a tool that consistently captures and shares specialty-focused data, providers can position themselves as the expert of choice for both peers and patients.


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Ingredients to a Successful ICD-10 Implementation - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers

Ingredients to a Successful ICD-10 Implementation - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Have you ever thought about just how many moving parts there are in an ICD-10 implementation? The whole process can seem overwhelming to a practice and as a Practice Management/EHR vendor who needs to understand all of these different pieces, we’ve found that the best way to approach this is by breaking down the implementation into three main ingredients: People, Processes & Technology. So what do these mean, what’s your role and how do you formulate a plan for ICD-10 success?

People – Because a successful ICD-10 implementation affects all departments in your practice, awareness, preparation, testing and training should already be well underway. Medical coders and physicians aren’t the only people who require high ICD-10 competency. The key to preparing your entire staff for ICD-10 readiness is identifying what training is required by role, who conducts the training, budgeting for training costs and downtime, timing and finally, ensuring staff is adequately prepared and capable. ICD-10 readiness should include regular communications with management, IT staff and clinical staff about new procedures and new or updated software such as Practice Management and EHR systems. Staff also needs to be able to handle new requirements and forms, such as paper superbills, as part of the new billing, claims and documentation procedures.

Processes – The impact of ICD-10 on practices can vary depending on specialty, patient mix, top diagnoses and payer mix. Solo and other small practices will typically have greater risk and deeper impacts due to fewer resources and available funds. Moving to ICD-10 will require tremendous effort and process coordination of nearly every workflow. Processes to manage 120,000 new codes in a way that allows simple, accurate look-up and application of codes requires collaboration across the practice – including your IT systems and people. Productivity standards may have to be redefined, requiring additional coding staff, existing staff may need to be retrained, and providers may need to change how they document with more detailed diagnosis information.

Technology – This is the backbone of a successful ICD-10 implementation and gives your practice, people and processes a foundation to guide your operations and improve coordination of benefits and care. When properly configured to an ICD-10 environment, technology can help ensure critical processes are performed – such as documentation, coding, billing and bi-directional data transmission – all while ensuring third-party integrations can do the same. As the ICD-10 crossover date approaches, the risk of having non-compliant IT systems grows exponentially. By paying close attention to your existing IT environment and examining it against changes required to accommodate new data, new workflows and potentially new people prior to implementation, you can greatly increase your ICD-10 readiness.

As you can see, we all have a responsibility to understand the ingredients that make up an ICD-10 implementation, which will increase our knowledge in these areas and in turn, reduce risk. Look for opportunities for training, industry webinars and vendor testing. Some vendors are even offering ICD-10 Risk Assessments to assist practices in understanding the impact of ICD-10 and providing recommended actions based on the assessment results. All of these opportunities will support the success of the People in your practice performing Processes that are supported by your Technology. When these three ingredients are understood, planned for and in sync, we’ll be able to achieve ICD-10 success together!



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The Future of Electronic Health Records in the US: Lessons Learned from the UK – Breakaway Thinking | EMR and HIPAA

The Future of Electronic Health Records in the US: Lessons Learned from the UK – Breakaway Thinking | EMR and HIPAA | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
With 2014 coming to a close, there is a natural tendency to reflect on the accomplishments of the year. We gauge our annual successes through comparison with expected outcomes, industry standards, and satisfaction with the work done. To continue momentum and improve outcomes in the coming years we look for fresh ideas. For example, healthcare organizations can compare their efforts with similar types of organizations both locally and abroad. In the United States, looking beyond our existing borders toward the international community can provide valuable insight. Many other nations such as the UK, are further down the path of providing national healthcare and adopting electronic health records. In fact, the National Health Service (NHS) of UK has started plans to allow access of Electronic Health Records (EHR) on Smartphones through approved health apps. Although healthcare industry standards appear to be in constant flux, these valuable international lessons can help local healthcare leaders develop strategies for 2015 and beyond.

By the year 2024, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) aims to improve population health through the interoperable exchange of health information, and the utilization of research and evidence-based medicine. These bold and inspiring goals are outlined in their 10 Year Vision to Achieve Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure, also known as ONC’s interoperability road map. This document provides initial guidance on how the US will lay the foundation for EHR adoption and interoperable Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) systems. ONC has also issued the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. This strategy aims to improve national interoperability, patient engagement, and expansion of IT into long-term care and mental health. Achieving these audacious goals seems quite challenging but a necessary step in improving population health.

EHR Adoption in UK
The US is not alone in their EHR adoption and interoperability goals. Many nations in our international community are years ahead of the US in terms of EHR implementation and utilization. Just across the Atlantic Ocean, the United Kingdom has already begun addressing opportunities and challenges with EHR adoption and interoperability. In their latest proposal the NHS has outlined their future vision for personalized health care in 2020. This proposal discusses the UK’s strategy for integrating HIT systems into a national system in a meaningful way. This language is quite similar to Meaningful Use and ONC’s interoperability roadmap in the United States. With such HIT parallels much could be learned from the UK as the US progresses toward interoperability.

The UK began their national EHR journey in the 1990s with incentivizing the implementation of EHR systems. Although approximately 96 percent of all general provider practices use EHRs in the UK, only a small percentage of practices have adopted their systems. Clinicians in the UK are slow to share records electronically with patients or with their nation’s central database, the Spine.

Collaborative Approach
In the NHS’s Five Year Forward View they attempt to address these issues and provide guidance on how health organization can achieve EHR adoption with constrained resources. One of the strongest themes in the address is the need for a collaborative approach. The EHRs in the UK were procured centrally as part of their initial national IT strategy. Despite the variety of HIT systems, this top-down approach caused some resentment among the local regions and clinics. So although these HIT systems are implemented, clinicians have been slow to adopt the systems to their full potential. (Sarah P Slight, et al. (2014). A qualitative study to identify the cost categories associated with electronic health record implementation in the UK. JAMIA, 21:e226-e231) To overcome this resistance, the NHS must follow their recommendations and work collaboratively with clinical leadership at the local level to empower technology adoption and ownership. Overcoming resistance to change takes time, especially on such a large national scale.

Standard Education Approach
Before the UK can achieve adoption and interoperability, standardization must occur. Variation in system use and associated quality outcomes can cause further issues. EHR selection was largely controlled by the government, whereas local regions and clinics took varied approaches to implementing and educating their staff. “Letting a thousand flowers bloom” is often the analogy used when referring to the UK’s initial EHR strategy. Each hospital and clinic had the autonomy of deciding on their own training strategy which consisted of one-on-one training, classroom training, mass training, or a combination of training methods. They struggled to back-fill positions to allow clinicians time to learn the new system. This process was also expensive. At one hospital £750 000 (over $1.1 million US) was spent to back-fill clinical staff at one hospital to allow for attendance to training sessions. This expensive and varied approach to training makes it difficult to ensure proficient system use, end-user knowledge and confidence, and consistent data entry. In the US we also must address issues of consistency in our training to increase end-user proficiency levels. Otherwise the data being entered and shared is of little value.

One way to ensure consistent training and education is to develop a role-based education plan that provides only the details that clinicians need to know to perform their workflow. This strategy is more cost-effective and quickly builds end-user knowledge and confidence. In turn, as end-user knowledge and confidence builds, end users are more likely to adopt new technologies. Additionally, as staff and systems change, plans must address how to re-engage and educate clinicians on the latest workflows and templates to ensure standardized data entry. If the goal is to connect and share health information (interoperability), clinicians must follow best-practice workflows in order to capture consistent data. One way to bridge this gap is through standardized role-based education.

Conclusion
Whether in the US or UK, adopting HIT systems require a comprehensive IT strategy that includes engaged leadership, qualitative and quantitative metrics, education and training, and a commitment to sustain the overall effort. Although the structure of health care systems in the US and UK are different, many lessons can be learned and shared about implementing and adopting HIT systems. The US can further research benefits and challenges associated with the Spine, UK’s central database as the country moves toward interoperability. Whereas the UK can learn from education and change management approaches utilized in US healthcare organizations with higher levels of EHR adoption. Regardless of the continent, improving population health by harnessing available technologies is the ultimate goal of health IT. As 2015 and beyond approaches, collaborate with your stakeholders both locally and abroad to obtain fresh ideas and ensure your healthcare organization moves toward EHR adoption.
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Fiona Ehret-Kayser's curator insight, December 23, 2014 3:28 PM

This is a really interesting take on the use of data in a patient's records. I wonder if ...?

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Drchrono uses Apple Touch ID to let doctors into electronic health record

Drchrono uses Apple Touch ID to let doctors into electronic health record | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Apple opened up the Touch ID fingerprint reader to third-party developers when it released iOS 8, and some in the health care world are beginning to take advantage of it.

Drchrono, which makes an electronic health record optimized for use on iPads, has now used that capability to authenticate doctors into the patient record — and to keep unauthorized users out.

This may be part of a wider push by Apple to get iPhone 6s and iPads into the tech arsenals of enterprises like large medical groups and hospitals. The new iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 now come with Touch ID, as do the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.

Where the medical record is concerned, the Touch ID button could be hugely effective in providing secure yet easy access. For care providers using drchrono, three taps will get them into the medical record. They rest their finger on Touch ID to get into the iPad, tap the drchrono EHR app, and then, when the app is open, they hit Touch ID once more to get into the EHR. They no longer have to enter a passcode.

“The amazing thing about Touch ID is that people sometimes forget password and PIN codes,” Drchrono COO and cofounder Daniel Kivatinos wrote on the company’s blog. “This changes the game even more … touch technology in health care.”


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Change is Coming: What to Expect in Health IT in 2015 -

Change is Coming: What to Expect in Health IT in 2015 - | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In 2015, healthcare information technology will continue to drive towards solutions that respond to the industry challenges of providing increased quality of care at a lower cost in a changing regulatory environment. Providers must respond to declining reimbursement models, quality demands of consumers and payers, along with increasing EHR mandates. Payers are striving to align care and cost incentives across both providers and consumers. Consumers are being asked to bear more of the cost of care and in the process are becoming more price sensitive, quality aware, and more personally responsible for their own care.

In support of these goals, the macro-level trends will be on continuing the significant support for Electronic Health Record systems, providing actionable analytics, and improving the infrastructure. For health IT in 2015, these macro-trends will result in a healthcare industry focus on the following areas:

  1. EHR On-going Upgrades, Enhancements and Support: These costs have become so high and ubiquitous that are not often regarded as trend, but it is a trend that will continue
  2. Meaningful Use: Responding to the next level of Meaningful Use requirements and the ability to better respond to Meaningful Use Audits will also be required
  3. ICD 10 Compliance: Compliance with ICD 10 can be expected to finally arrive in 2015, and   investments will be needed to updating the update systems and develop more specific reporting that ICD 10 will allow
  4. Data Interoperability: Increasing the ability to collect consistent, timely, meaningful and trusted data across diverse sources (e.g., clinical data systems, claims data, operational data) will increase the ability to provide improved quality and lower costs, and the increased data interoperability will be leveraged in systems used by providers, payers and consumers alike.
  5. Clinical Decision Support: Providers (and Payers) will be driving improvements in evidence-based care, predictive outcomes and risk management
  6. Operational Decision Support: Operational decision support will be required to provide better insights into care delivery processes, into the total cost of care at a patient and procedure level, into operational costs and into consumer factors affecting the cost of care
  7. Security: An on-going threat across all industries, maintaining security of Personal Health Information will require increased vigilance. As health information and operational systems become more interconnected the security challenges and risks become exponentially greater.
  8. Cloud: Data center management need not be a core competency in healthcare. More and more organizations will realize others can better manage their data and systems at a lower cost, and integration between on-premise and cloud-based systems will become more common.
  9. Patient Portals / Engagement / Mobile User Devices: Payers, providers and consumers have incentives and interests to leverage technologies that will help to better manage consumer health (e.g., chronic conditions, post-acute care, overall wellness, etc.) and associated costs.  Personal health monitoring devices are becoming more sophisticated and consumers are largely willing to share this data with their provider.
  10. Tele-health: Tele-health has the ability to provide more immediate care, especially for those in rural areas and where cost pressures have decreased the availability of more local providers.  Tele-health will be see increasing use for non-acute and follow-up appointments.

The one constant in the healthcare industry for the foreseeable future will be change. Supporting that change will be ever more sophisticated technologies that will completely change the provisioning of healthcare as we know it today. The trends above will be realized in different ways and times by different organizations, but all healthcare organizations will need to adapt in order to survive into even the near future.



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Is EHR Optimization Possible? | Hospital EMR and EHR

Is EHR Optimization Possible? | Hospital EMR and EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

At the Healthcare Forum Heather Haugen, PhD posited that the Promise of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) is that it “has the potential to transform healthcare by providing clinicians access to comprehensive medical information that is secure, standardized and shared.”  She then proceeded to remind us how far we have come on the journey of adoption, but that we still haven’t gotten where we need to be.  EHR is indeed a lofty goal, but we haven’t gotten there yet.

Plus, Dr. Haugen suggested that far too many people are focused on the EHR implementation and yet that’s only one milestone along the EHR journey.  In fact, she compared looking at EHR implementation numbers to talking about the number of weddings as opposed to the success of those weddings.  EHR implementations are just an event, but we continue to talk about the wedding instead of the marriage.

When you start to look at EHR as a journey, the first steps of Selecting, Building, and Installing are relatively short parts of the journey.  However, the EHR journey also includes: leadership engagement, speed to proficiency, performance metrics, and adoption sustainment.  Each of these are crucial to EHR adoption, but are much longer journeys than the initial implementation steps.

The journey of adoption is challenging, messy and dynamic and we may never actually arrive at “EHR Adoption.”   EHR adoption has a lifecycle that’s influenced by many factors including staff turnover and software upgrades.  So every organization must be prepared for ongoing education, training and engagement with their end-users to keep the EHR journey moving forward.

When considering this challenge, Dr. Haugen asked the question: Can data help us? And then she offered the following suggestions on how data can help an organization.

  • Data saves time and resources by focusing on the right patients
  • Data incents actions
  • Data removes subjectivity

As Dr. Haugen said, “Measurement has impact.”  She then offered five key measurement areas where healthcare leaders can evaluate their EHR project.  Have users:

  • Understood how the application impacts their job?
  • Understood why the application was implemented?
  • Felt that the leadership team is committed to the success of the project?
  • Felt that the organization’s leadership helped them understand what they need to do to adopt the new system?
  • Felt that communication from the leadership team helped make them feel more comfortable about the change?

Each of the above measurements is really focused on making sure an organization has user buy in for the EHR journey.  After you get past the EHR implementation stage, Dr. Haugen offered a series of other important questions you should understand and measure in order to optimize your EHR:

  • How is the application being used?
  • How are upgrades being adopted?
  • How do we overcome workarounds?
  • Who is struggling to use the new system?
  • What areas of the application are confusing and could lead to clinical errors?
  • How can we gain increased productivity?
  • Inefficient workflows – what are they and how do we change them?

Each of these questions and measurements can help an organization realize where end users could use more or better EHR education.  Dr. Haugen suggested that the best way to close any learning gaps is to offer scenario-based learning that helps end users become more knowledgeable and confident in their work.

Dr. Haugen also offered a number of other early findings from their research on the EHR journey.  First, only a small percentage of users need one on one help.  Second, software upgrades erode adoption over time and so with every upgrade you need a commensurate effort to retrain adoption.  Third, optimization is the responsibility of clinical leaders.  Fourth, users want education delivered at the time of need.  Fifth, data still lives on paper.  Sixth, there is a lot of opportunity to improve productivity through more efficient workflows.

Dr. Haugen concluded that “Feet on the street are probably not going to be how we solve the optimization challenges.  The right data could help us solve the optimization challenges.”  The right data with fast, effective and sustainable training will take us a long way on the EHR journey to a secure, standardized, and shared medical record.



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