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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How an Integrated EHR Enables Ease of Use For Doctors

How an Integrated EHR Enables Ease of Use For Doctors | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

As a physician in small healthcare practice, you value your time, your practice’s profitability, and, of course, your patient relationships. Success in these areas ultimately stems back to the efficiency of your processes — and the technology you’re leveraging to enable a simplified workflow.

 

When determining which type of EHR system would make the most sense for you and your staff, consider an integrated solution that will be easy for your entire practice to quickly adopt. According to a report on doctors and their EHRs recently released by Software Advice, 89 percent of doctors said that integration is an important feature in their decision-making process.

 

If you’re worried that implementing a new EHR system in your practice will hinder productivity, you’re not alone. An anticipated loss of productivity continues to concern physicians considering a transition to an EHR system. In fact, 59 percent of office-based physicians who haven’t yet adopted an EHR say the loss of productivity is one of the biggest barriers, according to a 2014 report published by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).

While this fear is understandable, the benefits associated with having connected and interoperable software in your practice outweigh the risks. Here are key reasons why implementing an integrated EHR will allow your practice to run more smoothly and increase efficiency with ease.

Quick and Accurate Data Entry

When doctors have software that combines their EHRs, Practice Management (PM), and billing into one comprehensive process, they can save time on repeatedly inputting the same data. Not only does this increase time savings and boost productivity, but it also minimizes the risk for error when transferring data.

Stronger Practice Management and Visibility

An integrated EHR solution can enable physicians and medical administrators to better oversee their practice. Integrated software provides doctors and office managers visibility into every step of an interaction with a patient. EHR platforms can help patients schedule their appointment, help doctors fill out the patient’s chart, and help accounts receivable track the claim being submitted and paid. Integrated software allows practices to submit cleaner claims and more easily schedule appointments.

Many EHR software even has a dashboard function that can report metrics, including revenue and the number of patients seen. This allows doctors to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their practice and how best to improve and capitalize on these analytics.

Consistency and Accessibility

Integrated EHR solutions allow doctors to be involved in every aspect of practice without switching between software. When the solution is cloud-based, physicians can help manage their staff and deal with any claim issues, even when working from another clinic or office.

Meaningful Use Time Savings

According to a recent National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, EHR systems that meet Meaningful Use (MU) criteria are more likely to save physicians time on certain tasks. Specifically:

  • 82 percent of physicians with an EHR system that meets MU criteria agree that E-prescribing saves them time, compared to 67 percent of physicians whose EHR system does not meet MU criteria.
  • 75 percent of physicians with an EHR system that meets MU criteria agree that their practice receives lab results faster, compared to 61 percent of physicians whose EHR system does not meet MU criteria.

If you are looking for a reliable way to save time and improve your practice simply and efficiently, a Meaningful Use certified, integrated EHR system could be the cure.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Why Are Some EHR Systems Confusing and Inefficient?

Why Are Some EHR Systems Confusing and Inefficient? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In theory, EHR systems can alleviate informational errors, increase efficiency and allow doctors to spend more time with patients. The reality, however, is that many EHR solutions can talk the talk, but they can hardly walk the walk.

 

Why is this?

Some EHR companies in the marketplace have produced software without doing their due diligence to completely understand what a doctor’s real day looks and feels like -- they’ve produced generic platforms that don’t address doctors’ real concerns.


Any EHR System Must:

  • Be Scalable
  • Integrate Seamlessly with Other Software
  • Have a Simple User Experience
  • Priced Fairly for the Practice

The third bullet, ‘Have a Simple User Experience,’ is the benefit we’re going to be discussing today because it’s often taken for granted. 

A Simple User Experience

Inputting data into a computer is easy, but the problem arises when EHR solutions can’t correctly identify a doctor’s workflow. Doctors have hundreds of patients, and since no two are alike, thousands of records of unique data are created. This data demands distinct form fields to capture a patient’s specific information. EHR systems must be prepared to capture, organize and file this data away so that a doctor can easily recall it when needed. And when it is recalled, this information must be easily understood by the doctor who may have forgotten exactly how he inputted it.

The solution is intuitive form fields and workflows.

EHR systems should allow for any doctor or office manager to easily understand where to input the right data into the right field. This may sound simple, but most EHR systems just do not comprehend the gravity of proper user experience.

When form fields are misunderstood and unobvious, data finds itself into the wrong reports. In the healthcare industry, this is alarming. Not only does this open up practices and doctors to lawsuits, but before you know it, the EHR system that was supposed to save your practice time and money is now doing the exact opposite.

The Power of Practice EHR
Next-generation, cloud-based software can and will improve a doctor’s day, but not every EHR system is created equal. The Practice EHR team was frustrated by the poor quality of the very EHR systems that were supposed to be improving doctors’ day-to-day lives. So we went and built a better one.

Practice EHR is a solution built by doctors for doctors. It’s specialty-specific, meaning it comes out of the box purpose-built for your specialty practice. It’s also the perfect system for smaller practices of about 1-3 doctors and it was made to alleviate time and hassle in doctors’ busy schedules.

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3 Reasons Physician Practices Need a Cloud-Based EHR

3 Reasons Physician Practices Need a Cloud-Based EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Cloud-based EHRs are becoming a key requirement for medical practices looking for a new electronic health record (EHR) system. According to a Black Book survey, nearly 85 percent of physicians shopping for a new EHR required mobile access from their new system.

Why have cloud-based EHRs become increasingly popular? Many small to medium size medical practices who’ve transitioned to this type of software are realizing the benefits. Let’s look at three reasons web-based EHR systems are a great solution for physician practices.

Benefits of a Cloud-Based EHR

  1. Cloud-based EHRs offer cost-savings and scalability. 

Unlike costly server-based systems, cloud-based EHRs are centrally hosted and do not require any hardware installation, maintenance or software licensing, making them much more affordable and easily scalable for practice growth.

Cloud-based EHRs are offered as software as a service (SaaS), meaning practices simply pay a monthly fee to use the software. Practices also don’t have the headache of worrying about updating the system, as updates are made automatically. Additionally, when a practice expands, new users, physicians or locations can easily be added.

  1. Cloud-based EHRs result in better accessibility and patient care.

Cloud-based EHRs are a win-win scenario for physicians and patients. With cloud-based systems, physicians always have important information at their fingertips, allowing them to provide better, more efficient care to their patient. Imagine a scenario where a physician is out of office but needs to follow up on an emergent case. With a web-based system, the physician could still log in to the EHR remotely and access the patient record as well as integrated clinical decision support. Having access to that pertinent information, at the right time makes it possible for the physician to provide better patient care.

Cloud-based systems also provide an opportunity for better patient interaction and engagement. Most cloud-based EHRs are accessible via an iPad, laptop or mobile device, meaning physicians are no longer tied down to a computer screen. Cloud-based systems allow for better mobility and patient interaction. For example, a physician can easily go from exam room to exam room with a handheld iPad and even engage the patient by showing them certain diagrams, charts or health information.

  1. Cloud-based EHRs improve communication.

Cloud-based EHRs provide greater flexibility than ever before. With cloud-based systems, small practices have secure access to their EHR whenever they want, from whatever device they want, as long as there’s internet access. The ability to access the system remotely, whenever necessary, allows for better communication and collaboration between physicians, staff, and patients. While patients won't have access to the EHR they do have 24/7 access to an online patient portal where they can send a secure message to the practice. Depending on the scenario, the practice can then log in to the EHR to follow up with the patient immediately or respond accordingly. The practice also has access to important patient information for scenarios that occur outside of office hours that will help them make more informed decisions for follow up procedures.

Cloud-based EHRs provide a lot of advantages for physician practices. Many who’ve already made the transition to a cloud-based EHR are experiencing the benefits.

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Practice EHR Success Story: Britt Larka, D.P.M

Practice EHR Success Story: Britt Larka, D.P.M | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Situation

 

As a solo podiatrist, Britt Larka, D.P.M struggled to find an electronic health record (EHR) system designed to meet the needs of her Houston-based practice. In an effort to find the right system for her practice, Dr. Larka implemented multiple EHR's, continually facing the same three challenges. With each new system, Dr. Larka experienced financial, workflow and operational challenges.

  • Financial - Implementation, training, etc., on top of system pricing, became a financial burden
  • Workflow - The EHR's were not made for a practice of her size and difficult to navigate
  • Operational - The EHR's were cumbersome,  negatively impacting patient care, day-to-day operations, and efficiency

Unsure where to turn next, Dr. Larka received a recommendation from her long-time billing services provider,  leading her to Practice EHR - an EHR with built-in specialty-specific content and a simple workflow designed for small practices. 

 

Results

  • Seamless implementation.  Implementing Practice EHR was a smooth process for Dr. Larka and her office staff. For all new clients, Practice EHR offers data migration, integration, training and customer support at no additional cost, easing the financial burden and the learning curve that small practices typically experience with an EHR implementation.

 

  • Improved efficiency of documentationAfter implementing Practice EHR, Dr. Larka and her team quickly appreciated the system’s easy-to-use and intuitive workflow. Practice EHR's ease of use enabled her team to work more efficiently. In addition, with built-in podiatry templates and clinical content, Dr. Larka could easily log patient care, allowing her to spend more face time with patients. 

 

  • Improved efficiency of billingDr. Larka’s staff improved practice management and efficiency with the help of Practice EHR’s electronic claim submission feature. With Practice, EHR encounters get sent electronically to billing providers from within our system, increasing efficiency for the staff and helping physicians get paid faster.


About Practice EHR

Practice EHR is a cloud-based and specialty-specific electronic health record (EHR) and practice management (PM) solution designed exclusively for small practices. We realize that a one-size-fits-all EHR isn’t right for all care settings, that’s why we designed Practice EHR to meet the needs of small practices and their specialty. Simplifying the entire documentation and billing process, Practice EHR helps more than 1,000 physicians in 23 different specialties deliver care while running a more profitable and efficient practice. Interested in learning more about Practice EHR? Request a Demo by clicking below and a member of our team will contact you.

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EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Health Management 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Making the Case for Patient-Generated EHR Data - Healthcare IT Consulting

Making the Case for Patient-Generated EHR Data - Healthcare IT Consulting | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The proliferation of wearable and mobile health devices from Fitbit, Apple Health, Google Fit, Nokia Health/Withings and others is bringing patient-generated data into the digital health fold. Health-savvy patients amassing this information are increasingly looking for ways to share the data with their providers.

 

Epic is one Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendor looking to bridge the gap between patients’ device app data and the patient health record. Patients can integrate data tracked on Apple iPhone devices into Epic’s MyChart patient portal; with an active MyChart account, patients can sync data such as weight, steps, pulse, blood pressure, and more back to the EHR for providers to review.

 

For example, let’s say I am a patient with hypertension and I’m on a new medication. I’m interested in monitoring how that medication impacts my health over the next month. Epic’s Apple integration enables me to track my vital signs daily for a month and share that information with my provider without the requirement of an in-office visit or sending the information via fax or postal mail. The data captured via my smartphone will already be with my provider by the time I have my next follow-up visit.

 

The Benefits of a Patient-Generated Data Strategy

Technology that supports bringing patient-sourced data into healthcare assessments poses benefits to both providers and patients. Providers can more easily track and monitor patients between visits. This offers clinicians a fuller picture of a patient’s health beyond lab results, problem lists, allergies, and medications. Patient lifestyle data beyond the walls of institutionalized care can reveal where patients are doing well and where there is room for improvement.

 

Patient involvement in personal health monitoring between visits promotes patient accountability in reaching health goals. If I’m an overweight patient with a weight reduction goal, for example, my doctor can recommend I use a Fitbit that allows me to track step data. I can routinely review that data and provide feedback to my provider with real-time updates on whether I’m reaching my daily goals or not.

 

Wearables and personal tracking devices drive patient accountability with empirical data that is captured automatically. Patients become more active participants in their health and in the creation of their health record.

 

Both patients and providers benefit from improved access to quantifiable health information. Shared visibility into patient health trends over time improves patient access and engagement, mitigates trust issues, and strengthens the patient/provider relationship.

 

Considerations When Integrating Patient-Generated Data

hile the integration of patient-sourced data into EHRs poses clear patient engagement and accountability wins, implementing this exchange of information does come with unique challenges. Here are a few key considerations healthcare organizations need to address along their journey.

 

Patient awareness. Promoting the availability of device data integration is key to usage. To build awareness some healthcare organizations may set up “health bars” in waiting rooms or lobbies to offer patients a tangible experience of offerings. These health bars typically feature devices like iPads, iPhones, and Fitbits with information on the various integration points available to patients.

 

Patient technical aptitude. Another hurdle healthcare organizations may face when rolling out device data integration is patient technical aptitude. Support teams dedicated to helping less tech-savvy patients successfully sync devices can help drive adoption.

 

Provider adoption. Driving provider awareness and adoption of device data integration is another challenge healthcare organizations may need to tackle. Clinicians need to be aware of the offering, how to make it available to their patients, and how to use the information when received. Educating providers on the how, what and why through tip sheets, medical staff meetings, and other venues is essential.

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Don't Overlook EHR Communication

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Types of EHR Communication

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Pediatric EHRs Must be Treated Differently

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Are Medical Practices Taking Advantage of Cloud-Based EHR?  

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

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

 

EMR/EHR


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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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Getting the Most Out of Your EHR - Healthcare IT Consulting

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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3 Reasons Why Medical Practices Should Embrace the EHR Dashboard

3 Reasons Why Medical Practices Should Embrace the EHR Dashboard | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The electronic health record (EHR) dashboard is an important tool for medical practices. It is often overlooked, but the dashboard provides valuable insights that can benefit your practice in many ways.

 

An EHR collects so much data, but it’s what you do with that data that will make the biggest impact. The dashboard provides a quick glance at information that can be used to improve your practice. Here are three reasons why medical practices should utilize the EHR dashboard:

 

1. It provides a holistic view of a practice in a way that’s easy to understand.

 

Dashboards give medical practices an accessible, easy-to-understand view of how their practice is performing in real-time. A dashboard enables a practice to quickly understand practice performance, uncover areas for improvement and make decisions based on real data, instead of assumptions.

 

2. Provides key insights for clinical, operational and financial success.

 

Dashboards provide insight that is instrumental to your practice’s success. A good dashboard will provide a consolidated view of clinical, operational and financial information. This allows practices to easily keep track of three key areas that need to be running smoothly in medical practice.

 

3. Improves productivity and efficiency.

 

Dashboards provide high-level information in real-time that helps practice managers, billers and physicians be more productive day-to-day and long-term. A dashboard should include information on practice financials, patient flow, and tasks that need to be completed so that everyone in a practice can do their jobs effectively. Here’s some of the information the Practice EHR dashboard provides to help optimize the practice workflow:

  • Appointment status provides an overview of which patients have been seen, no shows and canceled as well as how many have rescheduled.
  • Copay status: provides an overview of how many copays have been collected on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
  • Visit counts: provides the total number of patient visits and visits by payer types.
  • Key performance trends: provides an overview of important practice financial information such as charges, payments, and account receivables.
  • Aging by practice: provides an overview of account receivables that are current, 30, 60 and 120 days out.
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Speed Up Healthcare Practice Office Management Using an EHR Solution

Speed Up Healthcare Practice Office Management Using an EHR Solution | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

If it hasn’t happened already, your practice will probably be adopting an EHR system soon, due to the mandated HITECH Act of 2009. While this may seem daunting and laborious now, we promise there are many benefits to integrating an EHR-PM system -- it will prove to be a great decision that will boost patient satisfaction and your practice’s overall efficiency and interoperability. Here are 5 ways it will do just that:


          1.  Automatic Appointment Reminders

Office managers have a lot to do, that’s obvious, so placing calls to confirm appointments sometimes falls by the wayside. This tends to result in missed appointments and scheduling errors. EHR systems are the solution to this problem: Practices are now able to send automatic phone calls and auto-messages to patients’ phones. Plus, EHR systems allow you to easily send a text to your patient, enabling you to connect with your patients where they are in 2016: on their cell phones.


          2.  One Screen to Rule Them All

Gone are the days when office managers and doctors were inundated with organizing and systematizing thousands of patients’ confidential records. Today, EHR systems allow for all of a patient’s historical medical records to be easily navigable from one screen. Worried about form field restrictions? No problem -- User-friendly EHRs offer progress notes and freehand fields throughout, so you will always have the most prudent information right at your fingertips.


           3.  Automatic Claim Management

If there’s one vexation we’ve heard from doctors over and over again, it’s the constant headaches and lost revenue associated with poor claim management. The reality is, insurance companies don’t always make it easy to settle their claims. An integrated EHR system will speed up this process by leveraging Revenue Cycle Management to automatically scrub claims clean, so there’s less chasing down records and insurance policies for doctors and staff.


          4.  Integrated Clearinghouses

Once these claims are scrubbed clean, 99% of them can then be submitted to clearinghouses. Some EHR software comes standard with a fully integrated clearinghouse, making the claims process easier and faster than it’s ever been. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 30% of claims are denied/ignored on the first submission to insurers and 60% of those are never resubmitted. An EHR system is a solution to this problem. The right one can increase your practice’s revenue, decrease time spent on resubmissions and save you countless headaches!


           5.  Patient Portal

The best EHR systems save office managers time by enabling patients to pay bills and securely communicate with their doctors from the comfort of their own homes, on the train or even from the waiting room. These cloud-based features will directly affect the patient-doctor relationship, resulting in more organized communication, higher retention rates, and happier patients! Thanks to this intuitive patient portal, patients will love the new accessibility of their doctors.

 

Of course, not every integrated EHR-PM system supports all of these features because not all EHR software is created equal. Practice EHR is perfectly priced and cost-efficient for practices of 1-3 doctors. It’s built by doctors for doctors, which makes it uniquely positioned to address all of the doctors and office manager’s day-to-day concerns.

 

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Practice EHR Success Story: Cooperative City Chiropractic

Practice EHR Success Story: Cooperative City Chiropractic | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Transitioning to an electronic health record (EHR) can be a daunting task for any healthcare organization, especially for small practices. However, going electronic can also have numerous advantages.

 

Situation

 

Coop City Chiro, a five-physician chiropractic facility in Bronx, NY, manages 3,000 patient visits per month. With a growing patient load on top of the maintenance associated with existing medical records, Coop City Chiro needed a better way to manage their practice on the back end without disrupting patient care. In order to find the right EHR for them, Coop City Chiro started their search with the following needs in mind:

 

  • Find an EHR that organizes and optimizes patient documentation.
  • Implement an EHR without causing distractions or unnecessary obstacles for their patients and staff.
  • Train staff and doctors on an EHR without disrupting their busy schedules.
  • Adopt an EHR that fits their practice’s budget and capacity.

 

The chiropractic facility chose to implement Practice EHR, an EHR system priced for small practices and built specifically for each specialty.

 

Results

  • Live within minutes. Coop City Chiro implemented Practice EHR within minutes and without any disruption to patients or staff because the EHR is so easy-to-use.

 

  • Improved efficiency of documentation and billingCoop City Chiro noticed an immediate improvement in practice management and overall efficiency because they could easily log patient care and bill for all their patients in one single platform.

 

  • 50,000 in cost-savingsAfter implementing Practice EHR, Coop City Chiro reported $50,000 in cost-saving by going electronic and eliminating postage, ink, toner, envelopes, paper, etc.

 

 

 

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5 Essential Benefits of Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology in EHR's

5 Essential Benefits of Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology in EHR's | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Machine learning is a promising domain that has positively impacted many industries and now healthcare is witnessing its powerful emergence. The progress of Artificial Intelligence-based technology, along with other advances in EHRs is bringing a new wave of interest in how this latest technology is going to change the shape of health and healthcare. EHR platforms are at the forefront of using artificial intelligence within the healthcare arena. This is because of the widespread use of EHR software and the capability of EHR software to categorically store real-time patient data. These data sets can be used by artificial intelligence to make predictions and suggestions for the future.

 

This fast-growing digitalization has created major opportunities for the use of artificial intelligence. Industry experts and innovators see the potential and continue to gradually improve AI-based features within updated EHR systems. The widespread use of this digital health data advances health outcomes and there is no doubt it will eventually reshape the healthcare industry. Let’s have a look at some more unique benefits.

Benefits of Using AI Technology in EHR Software

  1. Better Diagnosis & Treatment

Newly developed AI diagnostic systems can help providers diagnose and treat different diseases. This advanced system uses the historical data and patient symptoms to predict future illness. EHRs are more intelligent now and can suggest the high paying CPT codes for the identified disease so providers can maximize their earning potential as well. In the future, this AI-based diagnostics system could possibly even lead to self-diagnosis tools and treatment facilities for common diseases.

  1. Reduces Human Error

talkEHR is a good example of a self-learning electronic health record system that comes with an integrated medical voice assistant named “Allison”. This intelligent voice assistant lets you talk with your EHR, and performs the requested functions you tell her to. This saves charting time and reduces human errors. Also, the longer you use the system, the more this self-learning software is able to provide you with an improved, personalized experience.

  1. Cost-Efficient

Artificial intelligence based EHR software automate the normal workflow of medical practices and, to some extent, eliminate the need for additional support staff. Auto reminder calls, appointment scheduling, and other task automations are improving the workflow of medical practices, as well as reducing overhead expenses.

  1. Better Medical Imaging Analysis

Artificial intelligence-assisted medical imaging analysis is much better than a manual one. It analyzes and compares the cell structures and also tissue segmentation to identify disease and suggest treatment.    

  1. Improves Productivity

AI-based EHRs improve the productivity of medical practices as they significantly reduce the administrative complexity, clinical waste, malpractice likelihood, and help to save the staff time they would otherwise spend on repetitive tasks.

Healthcare facilities are making necessary investments in AI-based EHR development, and over time, the AI algorithms will continue to improve and fully transform the healthcare industry. How closely will this transformation resemble the vision of medical futurists? We look forward to seeing how it takes shape. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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4 Key Considerations for Analysts When Implementing an EHR 

4 Key Considerations for Analysts When Implementing an EHR  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Implementing a new EHR system requires a great deal of collaboration between clinical and technical teams. Analyzing the legacy system and operational workflows, then successfully recreating—or better yet, improving—this experience in a new EHR takes finesse.

 

The foundation of every successful EHR and other large-scale implementation is a team of analysts who are knowledgeable, engaged and passionate about their work. From groundwork and discovery to build, acceptance testing and go-live support, analysts do it all. Here are four key considerations for analysts to keep in mind to help ensure their projects go well and they continue to thrive in their roles.

 

1 – Start with the end goal in mind.

When gathering requirements, project teams will often start by walking through every workflow in the legacy system with end users. This can be a long process, and can lead to a lot of information gathering that is ultimately unnecessary. A better approach is to start at the end and work backwards. Ask users why they complete these workflows and what the expected outcome is. This will help get to the root of the requirements, and allow analysts to immediately begin thinking in terms of the new EHR.

 

Here are several questions analysts can ask when gathering requirements:

  • What is the end goal or objective?
  • Why have you traditionally done it this way?
  • What would improve the process?
  • What is the clinical rationale for this workflow?

 

By starting at the end and asking users why they do what they do and what outcome they are hoping to achieve, analysts can more effectively and efficiently build a system that meets the needs of users.

 

2 – Be aware of the functional limitations of legacy systems.

A key point that is sometimes overlooked is that EHR workflows are often defined by—and limited by—the functionality of the EHR itself. Users will default to what they are familiar with, so if a certain workflow is used frequently in the legacy system, they will assume it is required in the new one. Some workflows may not be needed, however, because the new EHR is designed to achieve the objective in a different, more efficient way. If analysts do not understand this, they risk building in features that are counterproductive, or not needed at all in the new system.

 

For example, in her current workflow, a clinic manager needs to generate and print a report of all the assessments completed in the office each day. During requirements gathering, she may feel this is an important step to replicate in the new EHR. As it turns out, this workflow is a result of poor auditing functionality in the legacy system – to keep proper records, the clinic manager is required to generate and print these reports. Improved auditing functionality in the new EHR eliminates the need for the daily assessment report and makes this workflow unnecessary.

 

3 – Communication is key.

One of the most important things an analyst can do is to effectively translate the clinical and business needs of end users into technical requirements for the new EHR system. They must also communicate future-state workflows in a way end users can understand and relate to. Communicating effectively is vital to project success.

 

EHR transitions are often intimidating and frightening for users who have established a comfort level with the legacy system, and likely had little input in the decision to change platforms. Analysts can begin to alleviate concerns and increase user adoption by putting together a few “quick wins.” A quick win is when an analyst identifies a piece of functionality that is very important to users, but is also easy to build and demonstrate in the new EHR. Quick wins communicate to users the team is not only listening to their needs, but can also deliver solutions quickly and effectively. This also increases confidence, workgroup participation, and communication response time with users and stakeholders, all of which contribute to project success.

 

4 – Strike a balance between functionality and maintainability.

Enterprise EHR systems are complex and, depending on the size and diversity of the user base, may require a team of several hundred application analysts to maintain. In addition, it’s important to remember that every clinical user in a health system is depending on the EHR to complete their documentation and deliver the highest quality of care to patients. Because of this, it is important to strike a balance between functionality and maintainability.

 

If the project team attempts to build in every piece of functionality requested by end users, including things that are nice to have but not critical for the system to function, the EHR will become unwieldy and difficult to maintain. Future updates by the EHR vendor will likely break any customizations, cause unnecessary downtime, and push the volume of help desk requests beyond what the business can support.

 

In contrast, if the project team oversimplifies and standardizes too much, they risk building a system that does not meet the core requirements of end users. When users can’t leverage the system the way they need, they find “creative” approaches that don’t always work, or simply don’t document everything needed. This can lead to a host of problems such as violating operational policy, regulatory reporting issues, loss of revenue due to incorrect documentation, HIPAA violations and, ultimately, lower quality of care for patients. A well-balanced system will keep the support team busy but not overwhelmed, include all required functionality as well as some quality of life features and allow clinicians to be at their best with patients.

 

In summary, by keeping workflow objectives in mind, understanding legacy system limitations, communicating effectively and balancing functionality and maintainability, analysts demonstrate the value of their critical role in EHR implementation success.

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Stanford Launches App That Connects to Epic EHR & Healthkit

Stanford Launches App That Connects to Epic EHR & Healthkit | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

tanford Health Care today announced its new iOS 8 MyHealth mobile health app for patients. Developed in-house by Stanford Health Care (SHC) engineers, MyHealth connects directly with Epic’s EHR, Apple’s HealthKit and cloud services for consumer health data monitoring.

The SHC MyHealth mobile app is designed to make it quick and simple for patients to manage their care right from their iPhones, including:

• Make appointments

• Get test results – your lab results are automatically made available in the palm of your hand

 

Communicate with your care team through a secure messaging system where your information is always kept confidential

• Have a video visit with your doctor through the new ClickWell Care clinic which gives you the convenient option of a “virtual” appointment

 

• Manage your prescriptions and medications

• View your health summary

• Access and pay your bills

• Share your vitals with your doctor via HealthKit integration

Secure Messaging


With the new MyHealth app, patients can communicate directly with their care team through a confidential and secure messaging system. In addition, the app automatically syncs with wearable and wireless products, allowing patients to take vital signs at home or on the go. That data is automatically and securely added to the patient’s chart in Epic for their physician to review remotely.

“The SHC MyHealth app allows patients to connect their lives with their health care,” said Pravene Nath, MD, Chief Information Officer, Stanford Health Care. “By integrating with companies like Withings, our physicians have access to meaningful patient data right in Epic, without having to ask the patient come in for an appointment. We believe this is the future of how care will be delivered for many types of chronic conditions.”

 

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Epic Launches Sonnet with Rhyme and Reason

Epic Launches Sonnet with Rhyme and Reason | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The long-anticipated launch of Epic’s new scaled-down Electronic Health Record (EHR), known as Sonnet, took place in March at HIMSS18 with tremendous excitement. Sonnet is intended for smaller to mid-sized hospitals, critical access hospitals, post-acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, and physician practices, who either do not require all of the functionality of a full version EHR or don’t have the budget or the resources needed to implement the full version of Epic. Through the use of Sonnet, these smaller systems will have access to a scaled-down version of Epic which falls at a more competitive price point and with a significantly quicker implementation timeline.  “It’s still the same Epic, it has a fully integrated inpatient-outpatient, rev cycle, and patient portal,” Adam Whitlatch, Epic’s research and development team lead, told Healthcare Dive in February. Additionally, Sonnet will allow smaller hospitals a clear and attainable add-on/upgrade path with the ability to adopt different features of Epic as they expand.

 

It’s an exciting move for Epic on the heels of Epic CEO Judy Faulkner’s call for a shift in collective thought when she announced she would now refer to the EHR as CHR.  To Judy, and I believe many of us, the letter change represents the bigger picture. “Healthcare is now focusing on keeping people well rather than reacting to illness. We are now focusing on factors outside the traditional walls,” Faulkner told Healthcare IT News.  In the future, the CHR will include more types of data, such as social determinants, sleeping patterns, diet, access to fresh foods, exercise, and whether they are lonely or depressed because all of those factors can have an enormous impact on an individual’s health.

 

Epic continues to increase its footprint with the addition of Sonnet; aiming to capture a market segment which KLAS research identified in 2016 as the most significant buyers of EHRs in the U.S. accounting for nearly 80% of all sales. This portion of the market has historically been dominated by Athena Health, e-Clinical works, NextGen and the like.

 

It will be interesting to watch how Sonnet is received in the market and if Epic can successfully move into the community hospital space. It can be argued that Epic is the undisputed leader in the healthcare IT market with Cerner a close second as it pertains to healthcare organizations over 300 beds. The ultimate question is if a scaled-down Epic EHR can garner the same level of success in this space? If Epic can balance the functionality needs to support the complexity of healthcare, while maintaining a light-version of Epic that is easy to maintain and satisfactory to providers, then they will be successful.

 

Still, with an implementation of this size, there is a lot of complexity. As with all implementations, it is vital to have a structured plan in place that includes how to most efficiently manage the retirement of legacy systems, an effective communication and change management strategy, resource allocation, and the proper training of your current staff. Getting it right the first time is the differentiator of a successful install.  Engaging with the right advisory partner can be the key to managing costs. The right partner can aide in making decisions regarding how to best approach an installation from a best practices/”lessons learned” perspective. Often, a new install is the largest investment many hospitals of this size will make in a fiscal year. Doing it right can have great reward, but missing the mark, can have costly implications.

 

As a community hospital, if the implementation of your EHR isn’t correct, the future care of your patients and the financial stability of your organization could be in jeopardy. Optimum Healthcare IT has the people, the expertise, and the experience to ensure that your EHR is implemented correctly and smoothly.

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Alen Smith's comment, October 26, 2018 7:49 AM
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Sharing What You Know for EHR Consultants

Sharing What You Know for EHR Consultants | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In the world of Healthcare IT consulting, it is important to share what you know. HIT Consultants work long hours to get the job not only done but won.  They know how to put their thinking to work.  These rock stars stay focused longer than others to push the success needle forward for their clients.  But, before their work is done, there is one more win that can add tremendous value – knowledge sharing.  It’s the next best step that can lift the lid of consulting services to higher levels.  Here’s how.

 

Four questions that EHR Consultants can ask themselves:

 

What do I know?
There are a plethora of skills that consultants bring to the table that range from core functional skills to having a good knack for people, talent development, and team building.  A general thought among consultants is that their knowledge is common knowledge.  Everybody knows this, right?  Think again. What’s common to them may not be so common to their peers or their clients.  Plus, their experience and knowledge may have paved a different road from other consultants so knowledge sharing is a definite gain.

 

Who can benefit from my knowledge?
Without question, consultants add value to the clients by knowledge sharing.  They can also add value to their peers by passing on their proven record of how to’s, quick wins, best practice solutions and lessons learned.  Their peers can share their added value with their clients.

 

What do I need to know?
It’s always a good rule of thumb to place ourselves between teaching and learning.  And even the most knowledgeable consultant can benefit from learning. In addition to sharing your knowledge, ask your peers what they have learned.  A proactive approach to knowledge sharing will ensure success for everyone.

 

Who do I need to know?
Get to know peer consultants who know more and whose experience has exceeded yours.  It’s great to be able to have this person handy for quick huddles to field any questions you have.

Creating intentional opportunities for high performers to collaborate is a big deal.  It gives consultants with all levels of skills and experiences a forum and space to both learn and share the sharpest innovative tools in the market with their clients.  Everybody wins.

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EHR Market Needs Competition & Innovation

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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


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

 

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

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