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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Digital Innovation & the First Mover Advantage for Health Systems 

Digital Innovation & the First Mover Advantage for Health Systems  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

t’s no secret that healthcare has long lagged other industries when it comes to the adoption of digital technology. Large, complex organizations like health systems are notoriously slow to change, but healthcare industry trends – particularly the rise of consumerism – are driving a clear urgency around digital competence. In fact, 64% of hospital and health system leaders in the latest Kaufman Hall consumerism survey identified the need to use digital tools to engage consumers as a high priority. However, less than 25% of the surveyed organizations currently have strong capabilities to do so, representing a prime first mover opportunity for those that can evolve faster than their peers.


Long–accustomed to robust information and online, self-service capabilities in other industries, healthcare consumers are increasingly demanding more from their healthcare providers and organizations. This is not lost on health systems whose leaders almost universally acknowledge the need to evolve their strategies in the face of rising consumer expectations – 90% in the Kaufman Hall study said improving consumer experience was a high priority.


Factors like convenience, ease of appointment booking, and timely access to care are increasing “must haves” for consumers, with many acknowledging that they would switch providers to get them. Underscoring this point, in a 2017 survey of 1,000 healthcare consumers, appointment availability was among the top three most important criteria in provider selection, behind only insurance accepted and clinical expertise; 82% identified it as extremely or very important and 40% said they had changed providers before to get an earlier appointment.


The ability to schedule online is also an important factor in provider selection, particularly for younger generations. While phone remained the preferred booking method for respondents overall, 40% of millennials preferred to book online. What’s more, those who preferred booking online were willing to switch providers for it, with over 60% of millennials saying they’d charge for that convenience.


Surprisingly, despite consumer demand for online scheduling and health systems’ recognition of it, only a fraction of health systems currently offer this option: the Kaufmann Hall study found that only 20% of participating organizations had fully implemented online scheduling. This high demand-low supply scenario creates a unique opportunity for health systems, especially those in competitive markets, to differentiate themselves by offering digital experiences and self-service capabilities today’s consumers seek. Perhaps even more importantly, health systems have an opportunity to engage consumers and build loyalty with rich digital experiences that encompass provider search, health education, chatbot engagement, self-scheduling, and much more.


While engaging online experiences represent only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to enhancing patient acquisition and conversion, these factors can go a long way in influencing a healthcare consumer’s decision on where to receive care. Attracting consumer attention is an increasingly difficult challenge as health systems compete not only with each other but also with alternative sites of care – such as retail clinics and urgent care centers.


The health systems that are first in a market to offer modern online experiences will stand out from the growing crowd of care options and pave the way to sustainable growth. These organizations have the potential to serve that consumer for decades – with the ability to access information and book online as a key factor preventing them from looking elsewhere for care.

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Nebraska Docs Feel Pressure of Meaningful Use Requirements |

Nebraska Docs Feel Pressure of Meaningful Use Requirements | | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Not long after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled its plans to send notices to eligible professionals to be subject to Medicare payment adjustments in 2015, stories about the challenge of meeting meaningful use requirements have once again emerged — two of which taking place in Nebraska.

Rick Ruggles (via Star-Herald) reports that some doctors in Nebraska are considering the worth of moving to certified EHR technology based on the costs associated with EHR acquisition and implementation.

“It’s a simple question of how much work for how much money, and will it help my patients,” Bob Rauner, MD, MPH, Medical Director, SERPA and Director of Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln,  told the news outlet. “The answer is now, no.”

Over the next few weeks, more than 250,000 providers eligible for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program will receive notice that they will be subject to Medicare payment adjustments beginning in 2015.

“We are getting ready to start mailing the letters to the eligible professionals who will be getting this payment adjustment and it is a number that is over 257,000,” CMS officials continued, “and these people will be paid one percent less of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule amount that would otherwise apply for all their Medicare-covered professional services that they provide.”

The chief source of pain stems from the differences between Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use such as health information exchange (HIE) and patient engagement via view, download, or transmit (VDT). Moreover, the requirement to exceed all measure thresholds in order to achieve meaningful use had some nervous about their performance.

“I was right on the brink of some of them,” Robert Wergin, MD, FAAFP, a physician and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) President revealed about his own meaningful use experience. “It was kind of painful, really.”

Others such as 80-year-old physician, MD, are simply coming to terms with the reality that meaningful use penalties are coming their way.

“We’re doing the best that we can,” he explained. “If I get fined 1 percent, which is what they’ve threatened, that’s OK. I can afford it.”

Problems with patient engagement

Regional West Health Services (RWHS) is mindful of the cost of failing to meet the patient engagement requirement of Stage 2 Meaningful Use and it is a significant. According to another Star-Herald report, the Nebraskan health system puts the figure at $280,500 in lost federal incentives for “eight specific doctors” working at Regional West Physicians Clinic.

The health system is calling on patients to help these physicians reach the goal of five-percent patient use of the patient portal.

“You are the main person who sees the information, as well as staff who need access,” RWHS CMIO Usman Akhtar, MD, told the Star-Herald. “We need the support of the community.”

The health system has not specified how many patients the five percent equates to or the number of patient who have already access their health information through the patient portal.

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