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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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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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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