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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TOP 4 MYTHS ON EHR DEBUNKED

TOP 4 MYTHS ON EHR DEBUNKED | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Electronic health records have gained popularity over the last few years as more practices use them to increase efficiency, reduce medical errors, and improve patient care. Regrettably, as with most new technology, numerous myths and misconceptions surround EHR and need to be debunked.

 

Below are common myths about EHR software and its implementation.

 

1. EHR PRESENTS A SECURITY RISK

 

Some people believe that the digitization of patient documentation poses a security risk because it is vulnerable to unauthorized access. However, this is not the case because patient data is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

 

As compared to paper documents, EHRs are more secure and data cannot be lost. EHR software has login permissions that protect patient information from unauthorized access.

 

2. ALL EHR SYSTEMS ARE THE SAME

 

Although many EHR systems are more of a one-size-fits-all solution, you don’t have to go for them if they do not meet your practice’s needs.

 

You can request your EHR vendor to design EHR software that meets your practice’s structure and needs.

 

3. EHR INTERFERES WITH PATIENT INTERACTIONS

 

Some people assume that entering patient information in the computer during an appointment eliminates the time physicians spend with patients. However, the opposite is true.

 

When medical providers have patient medical data readily available in the EHR software, they spend more time listening and talking to patients rather than sorting through paperwork.

 

4. ONLY HOSPITALS USE EHR

 

Although EHR systems are common in large medical facilities like hospitals, they can also be used outside hospitals. Small private practices can use EHR and reap its numerous benefits.

 

Private practice physicians provide healthcare to many uninsured patients and using health technology can benefit them substantially.

 

EHR systems are extremely beneficial for practices and have positive outcomes for physicians and patients.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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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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Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity

Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Everyone knows that routine maintenance is required to keep a home, car, or even a person in good shape and performing well.  The same is true in regards to our electronic health records (EHR).  To meet the requirements and capitalize on the benefits of meaningful use, the US market has seen an unprecedented amount of EHR implementations. However, many organizations aren’t seeing the expected benefits.

 

Factors such as rushed, system-focused implementations, lack of standardization or focus on workflows, end-user and physician dissatisfaction, high ticket, and request volumes, and/or sub-optimal training are major drivers for optimization needs. Routine maintenance and pro-active EHR optimization are a constant and ongoing necessity and should be treated that way from a planning, budgeting and prioritization perspective. Here are some key areas to consider in a post-EHR go live world.

 

Thorough Assessment, Prioritization, and Management of Current Issues and Complaints

 

Most organizations use a ticketing system to log EHR issues. Following an EHR activation, ticket volumes often increase to the point where an organization cannot manage the volume and cannot differentiate priority issues from common, organizational issues. This is exacerbated by the constant “pull” of resources that are now needed for other organizational objectives and projects.

 

The truth is, your EHR “project” doesn’t go away when the system goes live. Rather, a program management organization, complete with an integrated Governance structure, must remain to manage upgrades, maintenance, and optimization. A great first step is understanding issues and prioritizing ongoing efforts for your teams and your organization

 

A thorough review, cleanup, validation, and categorization of all issues should be conducted. This requires the establishment and ongoing execution of a ticket intake and review process that identifies the priority and necessity, understands the source of the problem (e.g., user proficiency, workflow inefficiency, build defects) and reconciles that against the objectives of the organization. It is critical to include operational and clinical leaders in this process and often requires time for interviewing and even shadowing clinical and operational users to fully understand and accurately document issues.

 

Categorizing, Prioritizing, Integrating and Approving Effort

 

Most issues can be categorized into four areas:

  1. Break/Fix
    • Break/fix are issues with the software functionality that need to be fixed by either the IT analysts or vendor.
  2. System Enhancement
    • Enhancement issues pertain to desired functionality that is either not yet developed by the vendor or not yet implemented by the IT department.
  3. Workflow
    • Workflow issues arise when a process or procedure is inefficient.
  4. Training
    • Training issues occur when the system is functioning as designed but the end user is unaware of how to use it properly. Training may also be needed to teach advanced functionality.

 

After categorization, issues should be prioritized. The prioritization process should be carried out through the Program Management and Governance structure and is typically not simply an “IT” process.  Understanding the issues and requests, prioritizing them against the organizational objectives and then including them in the ongoing capital and operating plans allows adequate focus, funding, and validation for the work.

 

This may be simple and quick – break/fix items, refresher training, etc. However, the focus may be more complex and cross multiple areas of the organization – new system functionality, upgrades, workflow redesign, etc.  The latter often requires the organization to move back into “project mode” with a detailed timeline, project plan and in some cases, capital funding.

 

Optimization Implementation and Ongoing Maintenance

 

Now that a structure is in place, resources are adequately funded and work is prioritized, the organization can move forward knowing that the EHR can be properly maintained, but also leveraged for its true functionality. There will be many moving parts that may involve system configuration, system upgrades, workflow redesign, and end user training.

 

Having a dedicated optimization team and project manager that interacts and coordinates with the key operational and clinical leaders is key to ensuring success, but also aides in optimizing an EHR solution that supports the organization’s objectives as well as the patient experience.

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

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

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Reduce the Pain of Switching EHR Software with These Four Steps

Reduce the Pain of Switching EHR Software with These Four Steps | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

There are days when you have to face that monster behind the screen. EHR replacement can be a significant challenge for any healthcare executive or IT administrator. The reasons vary—from performance issues to software being discontinued by the vendor.

 

Seeking the right EMR software solution to overcome these problems is becoming more difficult as companies innovate and evolve to meet the demands of an increasingly complex healthcare environment. The whirlwind of options can be confusing as you seek the best EHR software to improve physician productivity, financial outcomes, and patient satisfaction.The following tips will help you find the solution you need to achieve your organization’s goals.

Start your search for a new EHR vendor with these steps

Here are the top recommendations for choosing an EHR vendor to make this change something you only have to do once.

Step 1: Develop a Request for Proposal (RFP)

An RFP allows you to compare potential partners. It provides a framework for providing detailed information about your practice and listing specific requirements. It’s well worth the effort in making sure prospective vendors have guidelines to prepare a proposal that clearly addresses your needs.

Step 2: Give them a wish list

A wish list of key features, functions, and reporting needs gives prospective vendors a full picture of what you expect from a partner. When they respond, you’ll have a better understanding of how their services will fulfill your goals.

Step 3: Research, research, and more research

Go online to read blogs, customer comments, and third-party review sites. Talk with your clinicians and staff to get more details about what works and doesn’t work with the current EHR system. Reach out to peers in professional organizations to learn more from their experiences.

Step 4: Go beyond the sales pitch and get to know the vendor

An EHR solution goes beyond the software. EHR replacement involves the personalities that you’ll be working with on a regular basis. You need to take time to get to know the vendors and make sure they’ll be a good fit for your practice.

Have questions ready

Similar to how a business develops interview questions for to ask a candidate for an important position, your practice needs to prepare a list of specific questions for your potential EHR partner. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Does the EHR provide robust, specialty content out of the box?
  • Will the partner be able to meet the demands as my practice grows?
  • Does the EHR vendor offer the full end-to-end solution from when the patient arrives to when the payment is collected?
  • Does the EHR vendor ensure a true continuum of care?

A partnership built on trust every step of the way

Switching to the right EHR software to yield better results requires a partner you can trust. Managing the complexity and difficulty in keeping up with workflow demand is possible with a partner who will be there every step of the way. It’s essential that they share the same amount of passion and commitment you have in serving your clinicians, staff, and patients.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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Getting the Most Out of Your EHR  

Getting the Most Out of Your EHR   | 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 trainings 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.

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

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

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Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity

Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Everyone knows that routine maintenance is required to keep a home, car, or even a person in good shape and performing well. The same is true in regards to our electronic health records (EHR). To meet the requirements and capitalize on the benefits of meaningful use, the US market has seen an unprecedented amount of EHR implementations. However, many organizations aren’t seeing the expected benefits. Factors such as rushed, system-focused implementations, lack of standardization or focus on workflows, end-user and physician dissatisfaction, high ticket, and request volumes, and/or sub-optimal training are major drivers for optimization needs. Routine maintenance and pro-active EHR optimization are a constant and ongoing necessity and should be treated that way from a planning, budgeting and prioritization perspective. Here are some key areas to consider in a post-EHR go live world.

 

Thorough Assessment, Prioritization, and Management of Current Issues and Complaints

 

Most organizations use a ticketing system to log EHR issues. Following an EHR activation, ticket volumes often increase to the point where an organization cannot manage the volume and cannot differentiate priority issues from common, organizational issues. This is exacerbated by the constant “pull” of resources that are now needed for other organizational objectives and projects.

The truth is, your EHR “project” doesn’t go away when the system goes live. Rather, a program management organization, complete with an integrated Governance structure, must remain to manage upgrades, maintenance, and optimization. A great first step is understanding issues and prioritizing ongoing efforts for your teams and your organization. A thorough review, cleanup, validation, and categorization of all issues should be conducted. This requires the establishment and ongoing execution of a ticket intake and review process that identifies the priority and necessity, understands the source of the problem (e.g., user proficiency, workflow inefficiency, build defects) and reconciles that against the objectives of the organization. It is critical to include operational and clinical leaders in this process and often requires time for interviewing and even shadowing clinical and operational users to fully understand and accurately document issues.

 

Categorizing, Prioritizing, Integrating and Approving Effort

Most issues can be categorized into four areas:

 

Break/Fix
Break/fix are issues with the software functionality that need to be fixed by either the IT analysts or vendor.

 

System Enhancement
Enhancement issues pertain to desired functionality that is either not yet developed by the vendor or not yet implemented by the IT department.


Workflow
Workflow issues arise when a process or procedure is inefficient.

 

Training
Training issues occur when the system is functioning as designed but the end user is unaware of how to use it properly. Training may also be needed to teach advanced functionality.


After categorization, issues should be prioritized. The prioritization process should be carried out through the Program Management and Governance structure and is typically not simply an “IT” process. Understanding the issues and requests, prioritizing them against the organizational objectives and then including them in the ongoing capital and operating plans allows adequate focus, funding, and validation for the work. This may be simple and quick – break/fix items, refresher training, etc. However, the focus may be more complex and cross multiple areas of the organization – new system functionality, upgrades, workflow redesign, etc. The latter often requires the organization to move back into “project mode” with a detailed timeline, project plan and in some cases, capital funding.

 

Optimization Implementation and Ongoing Maintenance

Now that a structure is in place, resources are adequately funded and work is prioritized, the organization can move forward knowing that the EHR can be properly maintained, but also leveraged for its true functionality. There will be many moving parts that may involve system configuration, system upgrades, workflow redesign, and end user training. Having a dedicated optimization team and project manager that interacts and coordinates with the key operational and clinical leaders is key to ensuring success, but also aides in optimizing an EHR solution that supports the organization’s objectives as well as the patient experience.

 

Optimum Healthcare IT provides optimization services that are customized to meet our client’s needs whether a full assessment and plan are needed or just hands on resources. An example of our streamlined methodology is shown below:

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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EHRs and the Problem of Efficiency

EHRs and the Problem of Efficiency | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Some doctors worry about how EHRs slow them down. I worry about how fast they let us go. Too much dropdown makes documentation too easy.

 

And when it comes to doctors and their EHRs, there’s a fine line between efficient and lazy.

 

Seeing the line is important because when it comes to workflow the drive to completion typically overpowers the obligation to showcase thinking and care. I know because I dance the line every day.

 

Four things I do to fight the downside of efficiency:

  1. Recognize that documentation is hard. Good clinical documentation takes work. When it becomes too easy I’ve typically crossed the line.
  2. Build narrative. My HPI and impressions represent an identifiable stream of thought. I don’t use smart phrases in my HPI or impression.
  3. Consider the end-user. How does what I create after a clinical encounter serve those who need to see my thinking?
  4. Stay aware. All of this is a struggle for me. But my discussion and thinking around this make me aware of it. And that’s the first step to staying on top of it.

 

All of this discussion is cause celebre for those interested in going back to manilla folders and clipboards. But don’t be fooled. Take any doctor from the analogue age, give him two glasses of wine and he’ll tell you it was easier to take shortcuts on paper. Illegibility and senseless scribbling was our analogue pulldown.

 

Perhaps most importantly, the problem of efficiency needs discussion among medical trainees who are preoccupied with the drive to completion.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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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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Epic Systems Wins Big in “Best of KLAS” EHR Rankings

Epic Systems Wins Big in “Best of KLAS” EHR Rankings | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Epic Systems Wins Big in “Best of KLAS” EHR Rankings

A number of Epic Systems products have achieved top marks in the annual Best of KLAS health IT and EHR rankings, including best overall physician practice vendor and best overall software suite in addition to other awards for acute care, ambulatory care, health information exchange (HIE) and patient portals.  The recognition signals a return to dominance for the health IT giant, which temporarily lost its top title to athenahealth in 2013.

“We are honored to be able to continue to work with talented healthcare providers to create the annual Best in KLAS report. Their feedback is beneficial as vendors strive for excellence,” said Adam Gale, CEO and president of KLAS Research in a news release announcing another winner, Phytel, which was named the top population heath management vendor. “We also look forward to expanding our global research initiative to evaluate additional products/services that impact both provider and vendor success.”

Other familiar names featured frequently in the latest report, including Impact Advisors, winner of the overall IT services firm category, Cerner Corporation for best small ambulatory EHR, and athenahealth for small and mid-sized practice management.  Epic, however, snagged the ribbon for large ambulatory practice management.

Accenture Health may be getting a few more phone calls in the next few months after being named best ICD-10 consulting firm, while Optum’s computer assisted coding (CAC) expertise won the category for the in-demand technology.  For clinical documentation improvement (CDI), another critical ICD-10 competency, KLAS awarded first prize to Navigant.

Overall, Epic received eleven recognitions from the independent research company, which indicates how deeply and widely the company has been able to integrate itself into the healthcare industry’s IT needs.  In contrast, Cerner received three nods and athenahealth bagged two, while McKesson and MEDITECH had one apiece.  Last year, athenahealth had five honors to its name, with Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush claiming that his company’s victory over Epic for ultimate prize was a triumph of “nimble, innovative models” over the “old guard of HIT leaders.”

Putting aside Epic’s runaway dominance – and athenahealth’s slip from the spotlight this year – Bush may have been correct in saying that new contenders are challenging the big names that seemed so solidified in the early days of the EHR Incentive Programs.  The large number and diversity of winners shows that the marketplace continues to be fragmented, giving new companies a chance to offer the intuitive, user-friendly, feature-rich EHRs that healthcare organizations are clambering for.

With EHR replacement still a very strong force in the marketplace, vendors have a strong incentive to claw their way past their competitors onto EHR ranking lists that give them visibility and credibility in an environment of weary mistrust.

“We are all part of a community of care,” Gale said of the 2013 winners list. “From the vendors that provide services and advance healthcare technology, to KLAS, who produces insights on vendor performance, to the providers who administer care, our joint efforts can make a difference in the lives of the patients.”

“To the healthcare providers, your effort to be heard and counted is critical. It is your voice, amplified by KLAS, that can drive improvements to healthcare technology and services. To the healthcare vendors who diligently seek to align with provider needs, we thank you for your unwavering determination to deliver excellence with passion. We commend your efforts to truly be Best in KLAS.”


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Survey: Physicians See Benefits, Drawbacks in EHR System Switches

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

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

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

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

Survey Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Benefits of Electronic Health Records

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

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

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

Financial Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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HIMSS Analytics Announces eClinicalWorks as Certified Educator of the EMR Adoption Model

HIMSS Analytics Announces eClinicalWorks as Certified Educator of the EMR Adoption Model | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

EMRAM is an eight-step process that allows healthcare provider organizations to analyze their level of EMR adoption, chart accomplishments, and benchmark progress against other healthcare organizations across the country. Each of the stages is measured by cumulative capabilities and all capabilities within each stage must be reached before progressing.

“We’re happy to be able to confirm eClinicalWorks as an EMRAM Certified Educator,” said Blain Newton, COO, HIMSS Analytics. “EMRAM allows organizations to align IT initiatives and overall business strategy, which is essential to shaping future direction and moving the industry forward.”

Vendors achieving HIMSS Analytics Certified Educator status must pass an annual certification exam and commit to an annual educator program. This ensures they stay current with trends within the model and are equipped with the necessary knowledge to help their clients advance through the various stages.


“A major goal is having our customers utilizing the EMR the most beneficial way possible for both providers and patients,” said Girish Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. “This certification will benefit organizations looking to analyze their adoption of EMR technology. We welcome being part of the program.”


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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.

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Operational Involvement in EHR Adoption

Operational Involvement in EHR Adoption | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Among many reasons why EHR implementations fail, one that comes up repeatedly is the perception that the project was an IT-driven project – a system chosen and implemented without significant input from those who would be using it most.

 

A lack of operational involvement. Three things are key to establishing governance, involving the operational team and gaining acceptance of the world that new EHR users will be expected to live and thrive in:

 

Getting the right people into the proper roles


The best physician champions are not ‘picked’ at the start of the project, the surface as the project begins to move forward. There are some people who not only have an interest in and aptitude for these types of projects, but their natural energy and positive excitement can conjure up the same enthusiasm in others.

 

Those are the people, or influencers, who you want leading and running these projects. In many instances, multiple application team members can excel at their jobs for very different reasons. You may have one that is exceptionally knowledgeable about the intricacies of the build while the other who came from Operations and possesses a detailed understanding of the workflow.

 

Later in the project, when a principal trainer needs to be chosen, which will make the better trainer? The decision may ultimately come down to a variety of factors including application or workflow knowledge, but the communication skill set and which one resonates better with end users and will help them adopt the technology better may be the deciding factor.

 

Empowering people to make and take responsibility for decisions


It’s imperative to find people who are not only empowered to make decisions but can accept the responsibility and accountability for those decisions. Create a culture where there is an acceptance of the concept that sometimes a decision is based on the best information available at the time to move forward, but that it may need to be revisited at a later date when more and better information is available.

 

When people are in decision-making roles, they must be experienced, knowledgeable and decisive with conviction. Some people are fit for that role while others are not. It is the responsibility of project leaders to determine which individuals possess the necessary leadership and decision-making skill sets to keep the project moving forward successfully.

 

Communicating with and ensuring operational involvement in project activities including, but not limited to, workflow design, content development, and standardization, testing, and training.


Involving operations in project activities is one of the most critical pieces to a successful EHR implementation. While IT team members may know the ins and outs of the system, operational team members are the folks who will be using it daily to do their jobs.

 

Who better to ask when it comes to workflow decisions and content development? When the time comes to create test scripts and training materials, involving the operational folks will ensure that you are testing the most relevant ‘day in the life’ scenarios and using examples for training that is relevant to their practice — cross-functional planning and vetting help to ensure success in both.

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Why an Integrated EHR Improves Patient Relationships

Why an Integrated EHR Improves Patient Relationships | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The doctors we know say there are never enough hours in the day. Sound familiar? Well, we’re here to help. As integrated EHR systems are adopted in the industry, doctors seem to peel off a few more hours each day. And more time means a better doctor/patient relationship. Here’s why:


Time is of the essence.

 

It’s no secret that physicians are strapped for time and patients value efficient, yet, thorough appointments. Balancing productivity and quality care is a task, but very manageable with the right tool.

 

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

 

Some integrated EHR systems even have 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 determine how to capitalize on these analytics.


We are living in an on-demand world.

Integrated EHR solutions provide physicians instant access to patient information and billing. They will also be involved in every aspect of a practice without switching between software, which saves them precious time. 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.

 

An integrated EHR also helps enable a transparent process. Patients are now getting answers to their healthcare questions online and on-demand. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 72% of the U.S. adult population looks online for health information. Thankfully, doctors can now meet this new wave of patient behavior in stride.

 

Your patients will appreciate a workflow that allows them to pay any outstanding charges on-demand, and this will help you build trustworthy relationships with your patients.

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Benefits of an EPCS Certified EHR

Benefits of an EPCS Certified EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In response to the nation’s climbing prescription drug abuse problem, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) finalized a rule in 2010, permitting electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS). Today, e-prescribing is legal in all 50 states, and becoming increasingly popular. According to SureScripts’ 2015 National Report, the number of e-prescriptions have doubled since 2012.

 

So why is EPCS becoming more and more of a standard practice? EPCS is a step in the right direction to fighting fraud and abuse of controlled substances and provides numerous benefits for physicians and their patients, outlined below.

 

Benefits of EPCS for Small Practices

  • Makes prescribing more efficient and secure - With EPCS, physicians can send prescriptions for patients directly to the pharmacy from within the EHR at the point of care, instead of having to handwrite a prescription that could potentially get lost or stolen or prompt a phone call from a pharmacist needing further clarification.

 

  • Reduces medication errors, fraud and abuse - By eliminating the need for paper prescription pads, EPCS ensures prescriptions are getting into the right hands. EPCS has also been proven to improve prescription accuracy by preventing drug to allergy interactions, incorrect dosing, illegible prescriptions, etc. With EPCS, long gone are the days pharmacies receive scripts they can’t read.

 

  • Added convenience and safety, for physicians and patients - With EPCS, physicians can confidently and seamlessly e-prescribe controlled substances to their patient’s pharmacy. EPCS ensures the prescription reaches the pharmacy and the patient can easily pick up their medication, also improving patient medication adherence.

 

EPCS has proven to be beneficial for physicians and although legal, EPCS has not been mandated nationwide with the exception of four states. The following have passed legislation, mandating electronic prescriptions for controlled substances:

 

  • Virginia
  • New York
  • Minnesota
  • Maine


Interested in EPCS?

Many small practices realize the benefits of EPCS and want to partake, even if not required by their state. To begin e-prescribing for controlled substances there are a few initial steps: (1) use an EPCS certified application (EPCS certified means the application has completed testing and certification through a third party auditor, required by the DEA) and (2) complete the provider authentication process.

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How to Choose the Right EHR Vendor for your Practice

How to Choose the Right EHR Vendor for your Practice | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Electronic Health Records (EHR) Software has gained considerable attention from practices worldwide due to its innumerable advantages. EHR’s are built to provide an organized, accurate, and cost-effective documentation process. Using one saves time and reduces paper work drastically, thereby enhancing productivity. But, finding the EHR system that best suits your practice and also installing it correctly are two major challenges that you are likely to face before reaping the real benefits of an EHR. So, before you go further with your EHR planning, let’s first have a look at some important pointers to keep in mind while looking for the best EHR vendor.

 

There are so many EHR vendors waiting for a chance to gain your business. They all offer attractive service packages and discounts to make their product seem the most attractive. But, they can’t all be the best in actuality, so it’s important that you consider some critical questions. These questions will equip you with sufficient information about the vendor and will help you make an informed decision. Below are the primary items we’d recommend you think through before going forward:

Tips for Choosing the Right EHR Vendors for your Practice

  • Compatibility and Reliability

If you are used to evaluating vendors on a regular basis, then you would be aware of the requisites of the vendor selection process. But for those not accustomed to this, the first step is to determine that the EHR system in question is compatible with your company’s infrastructure. For that, a trusted and reliable vendor should be chosen who has a solid history, including an impeccable service record. Customer reviews say a lot about a product or a service and are worth looking into.

  • Meaningful Use (MU) Criteria

There are certain criteria that’ll help you shortlist a vendor. The EHR incentive program has set the meaningful use criteria specifically for the EHR systems, so look to this as a priority. It is a common feature found in EHR systems, but the latest one is the MU3 category.  We would recommend that you make sure your new one has this.

  • Aligned Core Values

You want an EHR system made specifically for the management of healthcare-related information and organized for proper documentation. But, it should also align with the needs and values of your practice (a.k.a. customization options). The vendor should be willing to design a unique service package that suits your core operations, too.

  • Impressive User Experience

Although this is not the number one priority list, it’s still important to keep in mind when picking the right EHR system. A system with a confusing workflow that isn’t intuitive won’t work. Ignoring this would be a mistake. Make sure you and some team members of your practice try it first to confirm whether it’s the right fit from a usability perspective.

 

These are some of the key characteristics to think through. Before stepping into the market, do some homework and shortlist all the potential EHR vendors that seem to carry potential. Then, conduct some research on each one of them to narrow down your list. These steps will save you time while guaranteeing, to a great extent, the trustworthiness of your vendor and effectiveness of your decision.

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Physician viewpoint on How to remove 'stupid stuff' from EHRs 

Physician viewpoint on How to remove 'stupid stuff' from EHRs  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

It's time to cut unnecessary work from the EHR, according to a perspective in The New England Journal of Medicine by Melinda Ashton, MD, a physician with Hawaii Pacific Health in Honolulu.

 

In the article, Dr. Ashton describes a program she and her colleagues launched in October 2017, called "Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff." In an effort to engage clinicians and reduce burnout, the program team asked all employees at the healthcare network to review their daily documentation practices and nominate aspects of the EHR they thought were "poorly designed, unnecessary or just plain stupid."

 

Along with fielding nominations from physicians and nurses, the team also conducted its own review of documentation practices, and removed 10 of the 12 most frequently ignored alerts the EHR pushed to physicians. The team also removed order sets that had not been used recently.

 

Dr. Ashton acknowledged the specific changes likely aren't relevant for other hospitals, but she advocated for the shift in mentality the "Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff" program initiated. "It appears that there is stupid stuff all around us, and although many of the nominations we receive aren't for big changes, the small wins that come from acknowledging and improving our daily work do matter," she wrote.

 

Here are four of the categories Dr. Ashton and her colleagues deleted from the EHR as part of the program:

 

1. One nurse who worked with adolescent patients asked to remove a physical assessment row labeled "cord," meant to reflect care of the umbilical cord remnant in newborns. The row, which was supposed to be suppressed for those older than 30 days of age, had still been present for other ages.

 

2. A nurse who cared for newborns said she had to click three times whenever she changed a diaper, as a result of EHR documentation for incontinence requiring the clinician to indicate whether the patient is incontinent of urine, stool or both. The team created a single-click option for children in diapers.

 

3. Multiple nurses highlighted the frequency of "head-to-toe" nursing assessments, which they are expected to complete upon assuming care of each patient. However, in some units, the EHR prompted nurses to document several of these assessments during a 12-hour shift.

 

"We sought to identify standards in the literature and found that some of our practices were in keeping with those standards," Dr. Ashton wrote. "In other units, we reduced the frequency of required evaluation and documentation."

 

4. An emergency medicine physician questioned why the EHR prompts employees to print an after-visit summary before scanning it back into the system. He hadn't noticed the patient was expected to sign the summary, which was stored in the record.

 

"His question led us to query other health systems and our legal team about the value of the signature, and we were able to remove this requirement," Dr. Ashton wrote. "The physician was delighted that he had been able to influence a practice that he believed was a waste of support-staff time."

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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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The Changing Healthcare IT Consulting Landscape

The Changing Healthcare IT Consulting Landscape | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The last several years of healthcare IT consulting, specifically around EHR implementations, has been busy and fruitful. For a period of time there, it seemed that anyone who could both breathe and type would be hired on, trained, and thrown into the fire, working at a feverous pace to digitize our Nation’s medical records. Largely, this onslaught was driven by the financial incentives of Meaningful Use – get up on an approved medical record system, hit specific targets, by specific dates, and reap large financial rewards. The incentives were highly effective and as a result the vast majority of US hospitals are now utilizing some form of electronic health record solution. But there is a murmur out there: “what’s next?”

To begin, two significant dates come to mind. The first date was May 25, 1961, when President Kennedy committed to having a man on the moon by end of the decade. To many it was an impossible goal. Something that seemed so absurd considering we had only just witnessed the first American to orbit the Earth some 20 days prior. The next 8 years were filled with collaboration, heavy investments, long hours, and much ingenuity, which all culminated to the first human to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.

 

The second date was January 20, 2004, when President Bush, during his State of the Union address, announced his vision for the majority of American enjoying the benefits of computerized medical records within 10 years. Here we are, 10 years later, and the majority of Americans are provided care at a facility that utilizes an Electronic Health Record. The parallels between the two announcements and efforts are apparent – unbelievable amounts of money were invested and an innumerable number of people were involved in realizing the vision, similar amounts of time were allotted, and both meant accomplishing something that seemed impossible. In both cases we were successful. We successfully landed on the moon by the end of the 60’s and today the majority of Americans are provided care at a facility that utilizes an EHR.

 

We’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do. Sure, not all facilities are utilizing an EHR yet, and not all that are using an EHR are yet meeting “meaningful use guidelines”, but for the most part, the big push is complete. The big question that looms is: what’s next? And this question is one that riles many who were involved in this great undertaking. It’s alarming and concerning to know that what you’ve become accustomed to will be changing – demands of great effort and great ingenuity working tirelessly to discuss, plan, build, configure, test, train, implement, and support, and then repeat and repeat again – this will be changing. But this is the nature of IT. Without successfully completing our mission, would be akin to Neil Armstrong not taking the first step onto the Moon. But as with NASA, that first step wasn’t the last one either, but the beginning of what would become its greatest era with the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope, Space Shuttle, and Rover programs.

 

I believe that this is just the beginning of a more exciting time for healthcare IT. That the real bread and butter, the real pleasure from the work we do, and the real benefit to patients is just beginning. Now that the majority are utilizing an EHR, we can now leverage the efforts and investments through optimization, integration, and interoperability. Through optimization, we can make the experience more effective for both the clinician and the patient. Through integration with other health software, we can extend the capabilities of the EHR further using the EHR as the jumping off point. And through interoperability it’s easier to share patient information when it’s needed the most; no more burning CDs with images or faxing results.

 

About the only tangible benefit of utilizing an EHR over a paper based documentation system is legibility; it’s not having an EHR that matters, rather it’s how the digital bits of information are used and leveraged that makes the difference. Walking on the moon did very little for us, it’s what it took to get there, what it represented, and its ability to make us realize our potential that mattered most.

It’s important that we never stop progressing, that we never settle down and accept status quo. We must continue to innovate.

 

Moving to an EHR from a paper based documentation system should never be the end goal but rather the means to getting there. As a healthcare IT professional, your continued success will be in driving this progress forward. Continuing to look for opportunities – by recognizing issues when they present themselves and developing solutions, continuing to develop yourself through continuing education and certifications, and networking with other professionals. The possibilities are endless really, and now is the time when we get to see the real benefit of this investment. Now is the time for leverage.

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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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Functional Limitation Reporting in Your EMR

Functional Limitation Reporting in Your EMR | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
There are a lot of myths, misconceptions and fears about functional limitation reporting. The bottom line is that clinicians who see Medicare patients after July 1, 2015 must use functional limitation codes on their documentation for the initial evaluation, at least once every 10 visits, and at the time of discharge or they won’t get paid.

All practitioners need is an EMR system that prompts them to select one of the functional limitation measures and the goal codes at the appropriate time. It’s then a simple matter of sending the claim to the clearinghouse and on to Medicare for approval and payment. Functional limitation reporting is essentially a goal-oriented process.

 Clinical Judgment

The judgment of the physical therapist is critical in meeting functional limitation reporting requirements. Therapists will need to document the patient’s condition at the initial visit, the selected treatment plan, severity of the client’s limitation and the expected outcome when therapy is completed.

In Touch EMR™ provides clinicians with prompts for all the information, G-codes and modifiers needed and at the appropriate times to remain within compliance. The data automatically goes into the patient file for transmission.

Supporting Evidence

Documentation to support every decision, measure taken and treatment is critical. Therapists must maintain a record of the patient’s level of function upon their initial visit using their best clinical judgment, combined with the information obtained from the patient.

Listen closely to what the client says and observe their range of movement to accurately select the level of severity under which they’re functioning. Meticulous records are necessary to document the condition of the patient at each treatment session and when the patient is discharged from further therapy. The process begins again if further treatment is required.

The EMR clinicians choose should have the ability to prompt them at the three major checkpoints of functional limitation reporting – initial evaluation, the 10th visit, and at discharge. In Touch EMR™ provides practitioners with that functionality, making it easy to remain in compliance and get paid.


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Direct Reimbursement Solutions's curator insight, June 29, 2015 1:22 PM

Make sure your biller knows the ins and outs of FLR!

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Docs urge big changes to health records program

Docs urge big changes to health records program | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

A coalition of 35 medical societies is urging federal regulators to make major changes to the Meaningful Use electronic health records (EHR) program.

Led by the American Medical Association, the coalition wrote Wednesday to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology arguing that Meaningful Use could harm patients if allowed to continue in its current state.


"We believe the Meaningful Use certification requirements are contributing to EHR system problems, and we are worried about the downstream effects on patient safety," the groups wrote.

"Physician informaticists and vendors have reported to us that MU certification has become the priority in health information technology design at the expense of meeting physician customers’ needs, patient safety, and product innovation," the letter stated.

The coalition called on regulators to decouple the certification of electronic health records from Meaningful Use, which imposes a timetable for EHR adoption and a series of penalties and incentives based on doctors' compliance.

The groups also asked the Office of the National Coordinator to reconsider alternative software testing methods and to incorporate stakeholder feedback on a variety of technical matters related to Meaningful Use.

The healthcare world has been struggling with the migration to digital records, arguing that the Meaningful Use standards are hampering their ability to deliver good care.

Advocates for Meaningful Use argue it is helping speed the transition to EHRs, which will ultimately boost care and prevent deadly medical errors.

The program has undergone several delays as doctors and hospitals fail to attest to its various stages.


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Latest MU Results Offer Something to Ponder

Latest MU Results Offer Something to Ponder | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

When is a surprise not a surprise? That might be a question to ask some of the Doubting Thomases in healthcare and healthcare IT these days. Because, honestly, when the initial meaningful use Stage 2 attestation numbers came out late last fall, the sense of “I told you so” was fairly strong among many in healthcare. As our Senior Editor, David Raths, reported in November, a number of healthcare association leaders noted that the fact that only 840 hospitals had attested to Stage 2 at that point, and many were ready to declare the entire meaningful use process a failure.

And many had very legitimate concerns, given the level of challenges providers have been facing going into and through Stage 2. But I will say that I, for one, had always trusted the industry observers who had expected most attestations to come at the very last moment. And that is exactly what’s happened.

As David Raths reported on Jan. 14, “With one month left in the 2014 reporting period, 77 percent of hospitals eligible to attest to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program have already done so, according to figures presented at the Jan. 13, 2015, HIT Policy Committee meeting.” As he further reported, “Concerns about low attestation rates earlier in 2014 may have been mitigated by two factors, explained Elisabeth Myers from the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. First, most eligible hospitals tend to attest after their fiscal report year closes, and that held true this year… Second is the fact not all hospitals and providers are eligible for Stage 2 in 2014.” And as Paul Tang, M.D., the committee’s co-chair, noted, the phenomenon of hospitals waiting until the end of the fiscal year is tracking with a pattern from previous years.

So the plain fact is that more than three-quarters of the hospitals eligible to attest in 2014 have now done so. And that’s a good thing. Are they facing an uphill battle going into 2015? Absolutely. Will some fail to make it successfully to and through Stage 3? Quite possibly.

But it’s important to consider that, in the context of this arduous journey of meaningful use, this 77 percent statistic is significant, and should not be minimized.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that only 200 hospitals will see payment adjustments as of this moment, and the number set to get adjustments of more than $5,000 is going to be quite small.

So as challenging as everything looks right now, there is definitely reason for a very cautious flavor of optimism. While this is no time for early victory laps, perhaps things in MU Land are not as dire as some of the Debbie Downers might have led us to believe, either.

And then of course, Stage 3 is now very much on the horizon. As Jeff Smith of CHIME noted earlier this week, “Stage 3 proposed rules are currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—the last step before being released for public comment.” And, Smith noted, “The Stage 3 Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (PRM) process is the most likely vehicle CMS and the Office of the national Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) could use to make changes that CHIME and other stakeholders have been advocating. This is the best chance,” he added, “to make substantive changes to meaningful use and revive an ailing program.”

So we’ll see what happens. Doubtless, the next several months will be pivotal for the meaningful use program going forward. So stay tuned. And keep your powder dry.


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