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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Ensuring a Smooth Transition to the Cloud - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers

Ensuring a Smooth Transition to the Cloud - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Moving to the cloud is a smart business move for many medical providers these days. The security, convenience, and scalability are attractive attributes for busy practices that don’t want the hassle of attempting to handle all their IT needs in-house. Plus the mandated move to electronic health records (EHR) is causing many enterprises to rethink their entire IT strategy.

While there are many benefits to moving to the cloud, reaping the rewards takes some serious preparation. Following best practices for pre-migration planning is key to ensuring the success of cloud operations. Sure, planning the move sounds simple, but it’s so simple that many firms fail to do it. The result of inadequate preparation is often lost data.

Check the Paper Trail

First, it’s important for medical practices to look closely at the service-level agreements (SLAs) they have with existing vendors. And then look at them again.

Practice groups should make sure the answers to the following questions are clear:

  • What constitutes an outage: Is it lack of access to service or to data?
  • What does the contract cover in terms of storage, data transfers, metadata functions, and copying and deleting files?

Have an Itinerary

It’s important for practitioners to know where data will “live” during the entire process. There should also be a plan spelling out who is responsible for maintaining the data during the migration. For businesses that can’t afford a lot of downtime, it might be a smart option to replicate data rather than doing a straight transfer.

Then, it’s critical to consider every operation the data touches and how those systems will communicate after the move.

Consider Security

Obviously, testing security is key in any case. But when migrating to the cloud it’s important to test it twice. Security should be checked both before porting the data and again after it resides in the cloud. Keep in mind that some aspects of security may need to be reconsidered after the data is refactored for cloud optimization.

Practice groups should also work with their service providers to formulate a porting plan so they can ensure they have a plan for retrieving data.

The upshot: Working with an IT partner that can understand the critical needs of practices’ data integrity and business continuity is key to ensuring a smooth transfer with minimal interruption.

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What Is A Medical Grade Computer? -

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

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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Scanning Medical Records and Keeping Your Practice Digital - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers

Scanning Medical Records and Keeping Your Practice Digital - HITECH AnswersHITECH Answers | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

In my previous scanning post we discussed the important role scanning documents plays in a successful EHR implementation. Moving from paper to electronic medical records takes a plan to know what you want to migrate from your files to your computer. But what about after your implementation and now in your daily workflow? Does scanning have a new role? Practices and hospitals alike find that while going digital helps to lessen the paper flow it still doesn’t eliminate it. There will always be something that might be acquired on paper. And when that happens, it is important to scan the document and be sure it gets included in a patients record.

Having scanning stations that are available and easily accessible for use will help integrate scanning needs into your workflow. If the scanner is off in a workroom or administrative office, it is more likely the task will be overlooked or put off in a to-do pile. Consider more than one scanner depending on your physical layout and system workstations.  Here are some areas where you might continue to see documents for patients in paper form and should be included in a patient’s electronic record. Where is this paper being collected and how can it get scanned into your system most efficiently?

  • New patient admissions and history forms
  • Capture ID and insurance card images
  • Referrals sent from other physicians
  • Medical Orders
  • Patient submitted history records
  • Patient submitted lab or procedure results
  • Consent forms
  • Payer EOBs or denial and resubmit documentation

Practices should also remember their overall business and consider digitizing all areas not just patient records. Human Resources is a big paper department with employee records and files. There are a lot of forms that start on paper for the simple fact of collecting signatures. Are you still keeping all this information in file cabinets? Consider digital employee files and scan the documents for electronic retrieval and storage.

Is your practice still using paper log sheets for medication dispensing and inventory reconciliation? Are you still using a paper sign-in sheet for patients when they arrive? Are you still receiving paper faxes for business or patients? Evaluate all the paper processes and consider a solution to convert to electronic or continue and store by scanning the documents. Benefits to electronic documents range from ease of ability to retrieve and share to simply eliminating the physical storage needs of paper documents.

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