EHR and Health IT Consulting
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Five Ways Healthcare Data Analytics Can Help You 

Five Ways Healthcare Data Analytics Can Help You  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

A few days ago, the Human Health Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General released a report highlighting the 10 biggest management and performance challenges the healthcare industry is facing, and yet again, EHRs and health IT have made it to the list. Healthcare is complex and the challenges we face today might take years to overcome, in the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care, data analytics has a huge role to play as the building block of the healthcare industry.

Data Analytics has efficiently empowered healthcare organizations to thrive in a value-based world, and is not limited to:

  1. Real-time access to patient’s dataImagine having sorted, structured data easily accessible to physicians – this could be a game changer and save a lot of time simultaneously improving health outcomes. According to a post, many Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) see their patients at an interval of 11-15 minutes. With quick access to patients’ data like medical records, clinicians can rely on actionable insights generated after advanced analytics, and research data to treat their patients.A healthcare system based in Washington was facing the challenge of limited access to data. The process they had for obtaining patient information required them to submit a request to the department overlooking information, and after their request was processed it would present a thoroughly checked and validated data which could take two days or even stretch out to as much as a month. By using an analytics application to access real-time data, the wait time for information was reduced by 75-100%.
  2. Data-Driven Decision MakingThe traditional obstacles of compiling and analyzing data persist even with advancing technology. EHR systems are now widespread than they were in the past, with health IT providing interoperability, bigger chunks of data is processed making it convenient for providers to have all of the patient’s vital information compiled into a single record that helps drive improvements with accurate data. The aim is to share data easily.
  • Many providers have reported significant improvements in quality metrics after adopting health IT.
  • As of 2014, about 82.8% of office-based physicians have adopted EHRs, and since 2008, this number has been nearly doubled – from 42% to 83%.
  • The HITECH Act of 2009 grants $19.2 billion to increase the use of EHRs by physicians and hospitals.
  1. Better Care CoordinationData is integral to managing population health, imperative to improving population health and health outcomes. Hospitals are now turning towards data analytics to leverage the massive data and create effective treatment plans. Upcoming payment reforms and the shift to value-based care are serving as the bedrock to the healthcare paradigm shift. A Texas-based health system incorporated analytic tools and saw huge improvements:
  • Depression screenings saw a dramatic increase by 600%.
  • A 75% increment in blood-pressure screenings.
  • More than 700 patient visits were reduced, owing to analytics-empowered nursing.
  • Even though 900 patients every day are managed on an average, clinicians are able to examine the patients through their data and make a well-informed decision.

Analysis of data only takes one so far, after this comes the proper management of data, and the insight to make sense of it to make population health management truly successful.

  1. Improving Quality of Health Care Measuring data with all the quality metrics seems like a daunting task, and many providers are now adopting analytics tool to not only measure data, but to simplify the task of structuring data well enough for reporting. Lots of analytics tools being developed are now equipped with:
  • Analyzing data requirements for pre-defined quality measures
  • Providing initial data assessment and structuring it
  • Calculating quality metrics and payment adjustments
  • Tracking current performance and improving on it through advanced analytics
  • Providing considerable insight into population health

By using health information exchange, a value-focused organization was successful in reducing total office visits by 26.2% and increasing the number of scheduled telephone visits to the hospital by eight times!

  1. Making Way for Further InnovationsHealth IT has created room for innovation and focused development in healthcare, with healthcare companies inspired to adopt advanced technology, the focus is to develop something that makes the healthcare industry future-proof and focused on quality care. Some examples of innovations in the healthcare space.
  • A San Francisco-based company focused on asthma uses a GPS-enabled tracker in inhalers, that uses their location, analyzes the potential catalysts and provides them with personalized treatment plans.
  • A Silicon Valley-based company has created customizable ACO dashboards, which help providers improve their performance in healthcare services delivery using their claims data and aligning it with their goals.

As the healthcare industry moves from fee-for-services to fee-for-value, much has been done to gain the momentum, but to sustain it and grow with it demands healthcare members to tap the massive potential of data analytics. It can transform the current landscape of healthcare, and the future is dotted with several possibilities. Data analytics is still at a relatively early stage of development, but the rate at which advancements are going on, a revolution is underway. It could be the best thing since sliced bread.

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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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Tips for Fixing a Botched EHR Implementation

Tips for Fixing a Botched EHR Implementation | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Organizations face many challenges when implementing electronic health records platforms (EHR), but fixing a botched implementation can be among the most stressful.  Problems with EHR implementation can reverberate throughout a healthcare organization and must be recognized and fixed as soon as possible.

The first step of a successful remedy is to create an action plan that prioritizes the fixes that will have the most immediate impact in helping operations return to optimal performance. Once those pressing problems are solved, it’s time to address all of the other issues. Here are a few useful tips to help guide you through that process.

Establish A Task Force

It’s wise to establish a task force to deal with each particular problem. The task force should include members whose specialties overlap with the problem area. For example, someone directly involved with the revenue side should be involved with resolving all revenue issues.

The task force should closely analyze the problem, and look for the breakdowns in the system. One might start by looking at whether staff members are able to input data. If so, check to see where it ends up. By taking a systematic approach, the task force will be able to get to the root of the problem more efficiently.

Carefully Calibrate Staffing

It’s quite common for healthcare organizations to wonder whether outside resources should be brought in to help rectify problematic EHR implementations. There are a couple of different approaches that work quite well.

[Related: How “The RightFit” Process Guarantees You’ll Get the Best Quality Consultants]

One option is to remove the appropriate internal staff from their normal day-to-day duties and have them focus exclusively on fixing the EHR platform issues (staff augmentation). Outside resources would then be brought in to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of those internal staff resources until the issues are resolved and they can resume their normal duties.

Another option is to bring in third-party consultants to solve the EHR application problems and allow the internal staff resources to continue concentrating on their normal day-to-day duties.

Which option is better depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the organization, the nature of the EHR problems, and the level of expertise the internal staff resources have in regards to the EHR platform.

Ensure Sufficient Resources and Track Progress

It’s important to engage key stakeholders throughout this process. The financial side of the organization must be included in the decision-making, so that adequate support can be provided to execute the fixes. To help build trust with the financial side, it’s imperative to establish metrics for success. This not only serves to prove the business case for the implementation fixes, but also ensures the project stays on track throughout the process.

Engage with End Users

In a situation in which the EHR solution is not performing as expected, perhaps the most vital tip is maintaining some degree of buy-in among the clinicians and staff who use the application on a daily basis. It’s essential to work closely with key stakeholders and influencers, like the chief medical officer, the nursing leadership, and even the financial department to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Have them propagate the message that the problems are being worked on and will soon be fixed.

After a botched implementation, IT staff might encounter a lot of resistance, but it’s important to break through this and emphasize what the long terms benefits of the EHR project will be once it is done correctly. By making these benefits clearer, it will become easier to keep everyone on board during a period of difficulty.

By following these EHR best practices, organizations will be able to more effectively overcome botched implementations, and will be better situated to have more success once they start on their EHR optimization projects.

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Digital Health Funding On The Rise

Digital Health Funding On The Rise | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The digital health industry is continuing its growth in record-breaking ways, as funding to the industry pushed past $6.5 billion in the first half of 2017, according to a recent report by StartUp Health. This year’s numbers are already well on their way to overtaking the annual totals of previous years.


As the digital health industry has continued to mature, interest from new investors has likewise grown. This was noted in Rock Health’s comprehensive Digital Health Funding 2017 Midyear Review, a report that analyzed US deals disclosed at over $2 million during Q1 and Q2.


Pull factors, such as (but certainly not limited to) Apple’s not-so-secret work on diabetes health tech, have contributed to investors seeing the industry as a more attractive, tangible marketplace. More investors are interested in the industry, and more importantly, they’re investing much more on average: seven out of the top ten deals this year so far have involved over $100 million each. Outcome Health, the company that set the largest digital health deal on record, came out with $500 million in funding earlier this year.


The widely accepted reality is that the health industry is taking an inevitable shift towards digital health aids. And as digital health technology advances, their use becomes more widespread, with hundreds of millions of potential users in some cases. Belief in this potential can be seen in this year’s top deals in digital health. As the health industry continues its transition towards digital health aids, and as digital health companies continue to develop pertinent, breakthrough technology, the industry is poised to continue its growth undeterred.

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How to Get More Loyal Patients

How to Get More Loyal Patients | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The success of your practice is dependent on your patients. The more loyal patients you have, the better your practice’s growth. But good treatment alone is not sufficient. For loyalty, you need to build an emotional connection with your patients that makes them feel valued and cared about.

Establishing an emotional connection helps patients remain stress-free, adhere to your advice and talk about their health issues honestly. Let’s see the possible ways to create a connection with your patients when they visit your practice and after they leave.

During visit to practice

Stay calm: Off course, you have a very limited time of 15 minutes for face-to-face interaction with your patient. Being in a rush and showing impatience would look awful. Instead, you should stay calm and make your patient feel relaxed with a warm handshake or a pat on the shoulder.

Be empathic: You need to offer an empathic response, especially when discussing life-threatening diagnoses. Likely the response of patients get better and descriptive. You and your team need to develop empathy skills. Also, make conversation with patients; don’t conduct an interrogation. Along with health issues, discuss different subjects such as pets, celebrations, etc. that makes them feel comfortable and more like they’re talking to a friend. Be an active listener. It gives your patient silent support. Instead of looking at your watch or a laptop screen, nod in agreement to what your patient says. For emotional connection, it is necessary to listen to your patients, express empathy and offer personal warmth.

Follow-up plans

To ensure loyalty, you need to make efforts to stay in touch with your patients after their visit to your practice. This makes them feel cared for.

Emailer: Email is one of the best marketing mediums to interact with your patients. Connect by sharing health-related newsletters that focus on patient ailments or general health issues. Don’t send out the same mailer to everyone; rather, use segmentation. Craft each mailer to focus on a set of people based on age, gender, geography or ailment. Also, keep your newsletter crisp and concise instead of publishing long stories.

To get more leads, put a call to action (CTA) button at the top. Another major characteristic of a successful mailer is a catchy subject line. Set regular intervals for email campaigns. Too many mailers can get you dumped in the spammer list, but too few mailers can make you lose potential patients.

Social media: Another way to connect with your existing patients and potential ones is via social media platforms. So you need to stay active on your social media accounts. Follow a trend in your posts such as daily posts, weekly posts, etc. Showcase your thought leader personality by sharing your blog posts or webinars. You can send appointment reminders or general health tips via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Website: Your website should have a patient portal where they can post their question, check their appointment schedule, view their test reports and much more. This is a kind of communication initiator that helps you connect better with your patients.

Seminars: Last but not least, participate in local healthcare campaigns and seminars to get involve with people living around you. Participate in school and college health camps. These places help you to interact with more people and showcase your skills and knowledge to your potential patients.

A connection is necessary for building any relationship. The better connections you have with your patients, the stronger your relationships will be. Subsequently, they will do word-of-mouth marketing for you, thereby building your practice.

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EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Health Management 

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices

Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Human lives depend on how well a healthcare organization manages its EHR integration of medical devices.

The assigned project manager spearheading numerous large health system enterprise-wise medical device integration programs for over a decade, I’ve learned an essential lesson about EHR integration of medical devices.


Data captured from thousands of heart monitors, ventilators, balloon pumps, and other bedside devices must be perfectly managed, seamlessly integrated, and standardized to each patient’s electronic health record (EHR) and then made accessible to multiple providers. Once synced properly across the care continuum, connected medical devices play a critical role in the transfer of near real-time, reliable data to EHRs that improve both the safety and quality of patient care.

Otherwise, failing to do so can prove fatal.

Lessons borne out of experience

Dig Deeper

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  • How Open Source Software Benefits Health IT Infrastructure

My role in bringing together clinicians, IT experts and device vendor representatives is to achieve that goal through flawless organization of precise integration methods and over-communication. Sharing information among these three teams is paramount to our success — that is, we’re managing vital data used by physicians and nurses as analytics in making life-changing medical decisions as quickly as possible.

Additionally, I have learned other valuable lessons about EHR integration of medical devices.


Start with a clean inventory list of biomedical devices and equipment planned for the device integration project. This list should comprise the number counts of all devices and supporting equipment including firmware versions and serial ports in addition to Ethernet gateway connections.


At the project’s onset evaluate and identify devices lacking the capability to integrate. Identify older firmware versions and research feasibility of cost to update as opposed to replacement.

Conduct walkthroughs on clinical rounds to determine data points for integration in order to identify network cabling and power needs. At that time, initiate engaging device vendors and setting clear deadlines and key parameters for the EHR integration.

Ensure middleware vendors partnering with the medical facilities supply all security-related product information upfront.

Invite middleware vendors to an onsite visit to determine exactly how much hardware is needed to ensure connectivity with other devices. Also include them in weekly or biweekly team update meetings. They are oftentimes overlooked.


Be adaptable and versatile to make quick adjustments while also striving to deliver impeccable results. Since workflows are not usually established upfront, responsibilities get shuffled around and integration details quickly become overwhelming.

Find creative ways to facilitate communication among the different team members. For example, assign color-coded status levels — green, yellow and red — to flag a change in project progression to speed up problem resolution. When senior management tackles red status issues as a group, expect people to pay attention!


Organization translates to project acceleration

Finally, organization of every integration detail is imperative. Associated device hardware, such as installing mounting hardware and new monitors in each patient room, must be managed. Biomedical managers, hospital IT groups, and clinical administrators must work concurrently to coordinate every step. In my experience, managing all of these different teams is by far the most challenging aspect of device integration.


Our healthcare ecosystem is slowly but surely modernizing, and we must leverage our technologies every possible way to maximize delivery of patient care to improve outcomes and the patient-provider experience. Ultimately, the success of any enterprise-wide EHR integration of medical devices is founded on strong communication and organization in addition to data management.


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8 Best Practices for Building Better Relationships During EHR Implementation and Training 

8 Best Practices for Building Better Relationships During EHR Implementation and Training  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

New software implementations can be a high-stress scenario in the hectic and sometimes change-averse world of healthcare. End users are under pressure to adapt to new resources while continuing to tend to the high-stakes business of patient care. Instilling confidence in users’ ability to make thorough and efficient use of new technology plays a big role in successful tech adoption. Comfort with new tools is particularly important in patient-facing roles like scheduling where staff frustration can negatively influence a patient’s first impression of the facility.


As EHR consultants, project managers and trainers, one of our primary goals is to engage and encourage end-users during software transitions. We lead the charge to get projects done on time and under budget without having official authority over team members within the client organization. Throughout my years working as an Epic principal trainer one thing has consistently helped me garner buy-in with project teams: building good relationships.

Good relationships with stakeholders play a pivotal role in maintaining project momentum and getting through the inevitable stress points that arise during implementation. Here are some best practices to keep in mind to put your best foot forward when building relationships with clients and end-users.

Make communication a key priority. Make sure everyone clearly understands the objective of the project and the overall plan up front to set the tone and establish team buy-in. Demonstrate that leadership is on board.

Address team expectations openly and honestly. Clearly define the expectations you have of people involved in the project. Identify and articulate specific deliverables and due dates. Meet on a weekly basis to review plans, get progress updates and identify risks that may have cropped up. Maintain a living document that changes with every meeting.

Encourage team members to take ownership. No one likes a know-it-all. One tactic I use even when I know the answer to a problem is to pose a probing question to the team and let the group come up with the solution themselves. This boosts staff confidence, helps team members feel they are contributing and keeps you from having to micromanage.

Build trust with project staff. Teams want leaders who will act as a voice for end-users. Spend at least a couple of hours with team members each week to get to know them, their pain points and their motivators. Walk throughs offer great opportunities for engagement.

Honor individuality. Don’t expect individuals to change who they are to fit the culture of the team. Some people, for example, work better independently. Recognize that and let them go. Refrain from forcing end users too far out of their comfort zone to avoid unnecessary friction.

Leverage rewards and recognition. Make it a point to celebrate staff accomplishments big and small. Peer recognition can be a strong motivator, but not all people appreciate public acknowledgement. Different rewards work for different people. Find the trigger that works for that individual. Small things like taking people to lunch can help you celebrate achievements and further develop relationships.

Make team participation fun. Humor can help diffuse project resistance and apprehension. Open presentations with a cartoon to bring fun to team meetings. During stressful times, a cartoon slide that acknowledges the pressure staff members may be facing can remind end users that they are not alone.

Invite end user feedback. Feedback loops help project managers and trainers continually get better. All EHR trainers and classes should be evaluated by end-users. This helps reveal improvement opportunities for future client projects.

At the end of the day, EHR training is not about you and how much you know. It is about making sure that users get what they need out of class. Don’t overflood their minds on day one. Demonstrate patience as staff members acclimate. Remember that relationship building and team engagement is a great way to not only share your knowledge but to learn from others as well.

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Adopting Electronic Health Records

Adopting Electronic Health Records | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Solo and small-practice physicians and dentists have had the lowest rate of the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), in which over 50% of physicians who had not adopted an EHR cited financial difficulties as the main reason for not participating in the nation-wide push towards the goals set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA of 2009). Understanding the difficulties for small practices to invest in new technology and to adhere to new standards, the Federal Government set aside billions of dollars to award to physicians and dentists to help them achieve the goal of “interoperability”; which can only be reached if all health care professionals are using certified EHR systems.


The EHR Incentive Program is grant-like funding available to help off-set the cost of acquiring a certified EHR. Well over 1.3 billion dollars has already been distributed to physicians, dentists and other eligible professionals that chose to participate in the EHR Incentive Program. Each eligible professional that qualifies and applies for funding through the program receives $21,250 for their first year, and can receive up to $63,750 over the course of the 6-year program.


The goal of the EHR Incentive Program is to provide the financial means, especially for small practices, to meet the national goal of interoperability through the use of certified EHRs. Not only is a significant financial benefit offered for qualifying professionals, but EHRs themselves are designed to protect and expand the bottom line. EHRs are specifically designed to save you money and time- which is also money- and to encourage patient health with comprehensive digital records, prevention, drug interaction warnings, appointment reminders via text and e-mail as well as numerous additional benefits of advancing technologies embedded into EHRs.


Don’t miss your opportunity to get paid to save money and join the new age of health care. Let EHR Funding see if you qualify for Incentive Funding at no cost.

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Philips Launches EHR-Integrated Patient Monitoring Solution for Clinicians

Philips Launches EHR-Integrated Patient Monitoring Solution for Clinicians | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Philips has announced the launch of their next-generation Patient Monitoring solution, an enterprise-wide system that consists of bedside, transport, mobile and central station monitoring technology backed by a new approach of consulting, training, service and customer support.

Helping Clinicians Improve Patient Care

When patients are admitted to the hospital, they are frequently transferred between departments, which can make it difficult for clinicians to obtain complete data from monitoring systems that operate independently of one another. Incomplete data not only limits clinicians’ view into the patient’s condition, but can put a patient’s safety at risk. In a recent Philips-sponsored study, results revealed patient safety is still a top concern for physician and nurse leaders in the U.S.

In an effort to alleviate this concern, Philips designed this solution to help clinicians improve patient care, drive clinical performance and assist health systems in lowering costs, by harmonizing monitoring system updates and improved service agreements.

IntelliVue X3 Patient Monitor

The IntelliVue X3 is a highly portable, dual-purpose monitor with intuitive smart-phone-style operation. With this monitor, there is no need for caregivers to change patient cables during transport or at bedside, allowing them to spend less time dealing with equipment and more time caring for the patient. With alarm fatigue a top concern for healthcare professionals, the Patient Monitoring solution also includes IntelliVue bedside monitors with Alarm Advisor, a tool that tracks how clinicians respond to alarms and alerts them when set thresholds may be too sensitive.

EHR-Integrated Patient Monitoring

As a comprehensive system, the Patient Monitoring solution captures a steady stream of detailed patient data from monitors and medical devices, and feeds it securely to the hospital’s EMR for virtually gap-free patient records from admission to discharge, even during transport. The integrated solution fits securely into health systems’ existing IT environment, delivering vital signs, waveforms and alarms directly to caregivers.

By incorporating these clinical decision support tools and advanced algorithms, caregivers have better visibility into a patient’s changing condition. All Philips bedside, transport, and mobile monitors share the same look, feel, and interface for consistency and to reduce complexity, accelerate care, making it easier for clinicians to provide the best quality care throughout patients’ transports around the hospital.

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Top 10 Epic EHR stories of 2017

Top 10 Epic EHR stories of 2017 | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The biggest electronic health record company made plenty of big news this past year, beginning with the scoop that it would develop new technology aimed at smaller hospitals.


Epic Systems, and its founder and CEO Judy Faulkner were the subjects of well-read news throughout 2017. Here are the top 10 Epic Systems news stories as gauged by our readers' interest:


1. Epic CEO Judy Faulkner reveals two new EHR versions are in development

"We're developing some really nifty new software," Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner told Healthcare IT News at HIMSS17 in Orlando this past February.

Epic is ready to make good on its promise to provide new versions of the EHR technology, she said, including Sonnet, which has a lower price point, and is aimed at hospitals that don't require all the bells and whistles of the full Epic EHR

"We're finding that people need different things," said Faulkner. "If you are a critical access hospital, you don't need the full Epic. The two new versions of Epic in development can provide a pathway to adding all the features at a later time."

Earlier this month, Epic announced that Sonnet would be available starting in March.


2. Epic CEO Judy Faulkner standing behind switch from EHRs to CHRs

"Because healthcare is now focusing on keeping people well rather than reacting to illness, we are focusing on factors outside the traditional walls," Faulkner told Healthcare IT News.

"'E' has to go away now. It's all electronic," Faulkner said at the company's user group meeting in late September 2017. "We have to knock the walls down whether they're the walls of the hospital or the walls of the clinic." As she sees it, the 'E' should be replaced with a 'C,' for "comprehensive."


3. Epic to jump into medical billing, currently hiring for new unit

A want ad popped up on the Epic Systems website, looking for "bright, motivated individuals to join our new billing services team as we enter the world of medical billing.

"Our goal is to simplify the payment process by helping Epic organizations with the complexities of submitting claims and posting payments," the ad read. "Attention to detail is vital as you'll be posting payments and denials; reconciling payment files, claims, and statements; resolving posting errors; and calling payers to follow up on outstanding or unpaid claims."


4. Epic sued over millions in alleged anesthesia over-billing

In November, Epic was hit with a False Claims Act suit that alleged the company's billing system double bills the government for anesthesia services. According to the suit that was made public last November, an alleged glitch in the system resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of overbilling. The company responded that the plaintiff's suit stemmed from "a fundamental misunderstanding of how claims software works."


5. Allscripts, Cerner, Epic signal more open EHRs ahead

Top executives at three electronic health record companies –  Allscripts, Cerner and Epic – revealed in March 2017 they were working to make their EHRs more open, embracing APIs as a means to enable third-parties to write software and apps that run on their platforms. Epic, for its part, was working on two new versions of its EHR and developing Kit to go with its Caboodle data warehouse (as in Kit and Caboodle). CEO Judy Faulkner said Kit "is making everything very open."


6. CVS-Aetna merger will make an even bigger giant out of Epic

While early reports in mid-December about the planned $77 billion merger between CVS, an Epic customer, and Aetna focused on massive market share in the pharmacy and insurance realms, there was also the implicit promise of a new era in analytics, interoperability and population health. Alan Hutchison, Epic's vice president of population health, said that by using Epic's Care Everywhere and Share Everywhere interoperability tools, CVS and Aetna could provide the community with information and insights to improve care.


7. Epic tops 2017 Best in KLAS awards, securing top spot for 7th straight year; see complete winners

At the end of January 2017, Epic Systems again landed the top spot for Overall Software Suite in the 2017 Best in KLAS: Software and Services report. The win marked the seventh consecutive year Epic took top honors in the report, draws from healthcare provider feedback. Epic also earned the top Overall Physician Practice Vendor and Best in KLAS awards in eight segments.


8. What happened when GE tried to buy Epic and Cerner and was shut down within 5 minutes

Former General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt revealed at the beginning of December that GE had once tried to acquire Epic and Cerner at different times. He said Faulkner told him, 'No, not interested." Immelt recalled the meeting lasting less than five minutes. (As for Cerner, the price was too high.)


9. How the Coast Guard's ugly, Epic EHR break-up played out

What began as a straightforward software contract with Epic resulted in the U.S. Coast Guard starting its entire EHR acquisition process over some seven years after it began. EHR implementations are notorious budget-busters often fraught with missed deadlines and other unforeseen complications, but for an organization to abandon the project altogether and embark on a new beginning is uncommon. Indeed, this occurrence includes some finger-pointing from both sides. So, what exactly went wrong?


10. Mayo Clinic kicks off massive Epic EHR go-live

Mayo Clinic hit a milestone this year with its $1.5 billion system-wide Epic implementation. The first 24 sites went live on July 8. The organizations said Epic will replace Mayo's existing three EHRs, which include rivals Cerner and GE Healthcare, as the hospital system's sole electronic health record platform.


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EHR Optimization, Population Health Top Priorities for Health IT Spending

EHR Optimization, Population Health Top Priorities for Health IT Spending | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Electronic Health Record (EHR) optimization and population health are high on the spending wish lists of Healthcare Information Technology executives, according to two new industry reports.

Electronic Health Records have been implemented in over 95 percent of hospitals, according to the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT. But analysis from KPMG finds healthcare organizations are still figuring out how to execute post-implementation strategies that effectively transform data analytics into valuable business outcomes and improve patient outcomes.


“[Most] EHRs – which represent thousands of resource hours and millions of dollars spent for many healthcare organizations – were implemented as one-time, factory boilerplate-style system installations,” writes Ralph Fargnoll, KPMG’s Advisory Managing Director. “With the need to realize the value of healthcare IT investments becoming apparent, healthcare leaders now acknowledge that information systems must be implemented as part of more strategic, long-term initiatives,” he states.

Over the next 3 years, 38 percent of CIOs plan to implement additional Electronic Medical Record (EMR) features and focus on system optimization, according to a survey conducted by KPMG and the College of Healthcare Management Executives (CHIME).


21 percent of CIOs anticipate making capital investments in accountable care and population health technology over the next 3 years. Other top upcoming capital investment plans include consumer/clinical and operational analytics (16 percent), virtual/telehealth technology enhancements (13 percent), revenue cycle systems/replacement (7 percent), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems/replacement (6 percent).

Healthcare CIOs are reportedly embracing the digital age of healthcare, albeit slowly. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents claim they are “currently working” on a digital business strategy. But only 1 in 2 respondents claims to have a tangible digital business vision and strategy in the works.

A new survey from Philips and HIMSS Analytics of healthcare C-suite and IT directors, also confirms the growth of population health spending.

Three-quarters of respondents already have population health programs in acute care, and nearly two-thirds of respondents in both readmissions and patient education. Priorities for future implementations included:  mobile wellness monitoring devices (58.3 percent), home monitoring devices (45.8 percent), and aging well or elderly care programs (42.5 percent).


Additional Survey Findings

  • While care coordination remains a challenge overall in population health management efforts (19.2 percent), financial investment (20.8 percent) and patient engagement and adherence (20.0 percent) are considered the biggest population health challenges in 2017.
  • Cloud-based technology is currently being used primarily for health information exchange (48.3 percent), followed by clinical data storage (34.2 percent). Health organizations plan to prioritize cloud-based technology on managed application deployment (40.8 percent) and big data analytics support (40.8 percent).
  • Community diagnostic imaging centers (68 percent), ambulatory surgery centers (61 percent) and urgent care (60 percent) have seen the highest increases in the deployment  of IT systems, compared to physician's offices in 2016.
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Medical billing software VS Electronic Health Record

Medical billing software VS Electronic Health Record | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Many EHR vendors are offering billing services as well and this tend to confuse many of the difference between an EHR and medical billing software. In order to improve their usability and functionality, many medical billing and EHR software systems are designed to have overlapping features. The main idea behind this all is to offer a “one-stop-solution” to a medical practice. This leads to people using medical billing software and EMR for reasons they are not developed for.


So, an EHR is a single, comprehensive solution that helps doctors achieve Meaningful Use by offering features such as patient scheduling, appointment reminders, diagnosis/treatments/procedures, patient information and history, clinical notes, medication/ drug allergies/prescription, e-prescribing, scans and reports, clinical decision support, electronically available results, patient education resources and full-fledged medical billing programs, all in a single software.


Specialized medical billing software is specifically programmed to keep and maintain comprehensive records of examinations, procedures, tests, diagnoses and treatments that are conducted on patients.


The software then combines all this medical information with patient’s policy details and formulates a complete medical record that is utilized to generate bills. Medical billing and coding software is also integrated in many such software to seamlessly and accurately handle all complex processes. They also cater to correspondence involved in medical billing.


So it all comes down to this. While features of an EHR are primarily focused on clinical functions, records and outcomes, specialized medical billing software focuses on a practice’s billing-related administrative and financial processes and medical billing procedures.

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9 Steps to Successful EHR Implementation

9 Steps to Successful EHR Implementation | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Healthcare organizations need an efficient way to process and share care delivery information to increase productivity, deliver better quality care, save money and ensure compliance.

Properly Switch EHR can deliver on this promise and provide most benefits associated with adopting digital technology.

Are you ready?

It comes as no surprise that technology continues to be an increasingly prominent part of our society.  Technological advancement isn’t going anywhere, but does this mean your organization needs it? Determining whether or not your practice is ready for EHR is the first step toward reaping all the benefits that information technology provides. Get together with business leaders, managers, and other key stakeholders to determine, infrastructure, people, technology and investment challenges that come with this change. Carefully consider whether or not implementing an EHR would be a step toward reaching or exceeding your business goals and strategy.

Be honest about your current status

Before implementing the new system, you must have a clear understanding of where you and your team stand. Do you have a proper infrastructure (internet, computers, printers, scanners etc.)? Does your team run efficiently? Are there any clinical or administrative process that is creating the bottleneck. How information and documentation are currently organized and processed? Is the staff proficient with computers? Are they willing and able to learn? These are important questions to assess your readiness for a successful EHR implementation. Be sure to be critical, honest, and true; inaccurate assessments will only hinder your team’s progress.

Set goals

Goal setting is almost always a constructive pursuit, and when setting goals for your team it is crucial to consider what factors will drive EHR success. Goals should be relevant, specific, measurable, achievable, and deadline oriented. Work with members to brainstorm a set of realistic and attainable goals with a time limit and budget to achieve them. If you haven’t already, assess and fully understand the time needed to complete tasks and work with team members to set standards and requirements. Determine what actions are benefiting your organization and those that are not; identify processes that can be improved and work with your team to strategize and redesign standard operating procedures.

Assign Roles

Delegating clear positions and responsibilities to allow for a smooth and productive transition. Be certain that those in charge fully understand why changes are being made and have the resources and time available to effect such change. Having clear objectives established will help drive the team ownership and productivity. Ensure that team members understand their duties, how to best execute them, and who they can reach out to for assistance, questions, and collaboration. Communication is key in any group environment, especially one undergoing significant change.

Find the best tools for your organization

Tools are only as useful as you make them. Expand your perceptions and be fully aware of all available resources. Your Regional Extension Center (REC), IT and EHR vendors should be able to provide you with the tools necessary to ensure a smooth transition.

Consider cost

$12,000 is the average cost of an EHR system. This includes software, hosting, maintenance, support, and upgrades. Connecting with health information exchange (HIE), customized reports, and premium features may be more. Before jumping in, consult a legal or financial counsel to determine costs and contract terms. Medical associations provide many open source templates and checklists to help.

Pick a certified EHR

It is helpful to pick an EHR that will customize to support the way your organization runs and help achieve your objectives quicker. Take careful consideration of other products such as practice management software, patient portal, text messaging, business intelligence tools, and public health interfaces.

Implement and train

Designate a leader to manage the transition and work closely with them to create a clear plan. Figure out what technological elements will be needed in converting data and paper charts into your new EHR, and what sorts of limitations you may encounter. Consider the value of information such as patient demographics, insurance, and appointments. Familiarize yourself with how HIPPA and business associate regulations will impact your patient services process. In evaluating your current and future workflows, be sure to create a backup plan for problems that you might come across.

Revise and improve

During and after implementation, meet your team and consider whether or not your goals have been met. If so, is there a way to improve efficiency? Do not overlook the need for further training, as efficiency can be compromised if you don’t know how the new system works especially shortcuts. Adjustments often do not go as planned, the continuous evaluation will help reassure the team and fix problematic issues.

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Why does EHR customization Matter?

Why does EHR customization Matter? | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Electronic health records shouldn’t be frustrating. However, many providers are finding themselves disappointed or aggravated by EHR systems that don’t provide the tools they need to support the very best care for their patients.

In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians has noted a 30 percent decrease in physician satisfaction with EHRs within the past five years. Reasons for this dissatisfaction include inefficient systems, deluges of tools that don’t apply to their practice or even generic modules that lead to inaccurate documentation.

Fortunately, customization presents a key solution to these issues and much more.


Your Practice, Your EHR

Every practice is unique, and this should be reflected in each health records system. An EHR system for a small practice will need to operate differently than that of a large practice. Layouts, prescriptions, scheduling, patient education, and countless other EHR tools should reflect the needs of providers and their patients. Customized EHR systems impact not only the efficiency of providers and their staff but also the experiences and health outcomes of patients.


The Impact of EHR Customization

Tailoring electronic health records to the unique needs of an individual medical practice impacts all parties involved, from the physicians and their staff, to administrators, to patients. For physicians, EHR customization can result in improved specificity and accuracy of data, whether with a patient or reviewing records outside the exam room.

EHR customization examples can include setting dosage parameters, accommodating in-house test results, or even modifications to make the system mimic familiar and intuitive paper charts.

A system that is carefully tuned to the needs of a specific practice is far more efficient for users, and saves time for both providers and patients alike. And those specific needs are naturally different across varying specialities. An ophthalmology practice, for example, would likely benefit from a very different EHR layout than a physical therapy practice or an urgent care clinic.

Not only can the speed and ease of utility improve with the adoption of a customized EHR, but also the quality of that data and accuracy of the information. A 2006 study illustrated that after customizing EHRs, more than 50% of surveyed practices reported improved accuracy and quality of records. More accurate records and data means better patient care and ultimately better health outcomes.


Configuring the Best EHR

Determining the configuration of a system to maximize its usefulness and alignment with best practices requires careful planning. Resources who can help a medical practice ideally customize their systems include EHR vendors and third-party consulting firms, and of course, in-house experts such as providers and administrators who understand the practice’s needs and challenges best.

Customization of an EHR system is an effective method of improving practice efficiency, accuracy, and communication for a medical practice.

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EHR Adoption: Benefits and Challenges

EHR Adoption: Benefits and Challenges | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are rapidly becoming an integral component of any efficient healthcare system.  Professional doctors and hospitals are required to demonstrate the meaningful use of certified electronic medical records. Meaningful use criteria in this regard refers to capturing electronic health information in a standardized format, using this information to track key clinical conditions, putting in place a care coordination process, report clinical quality measures and public health information and to use this information to engage with patients and their families. More sophisticated systems would also have the capability of enabling health information exchange, incorporating lab results, e-prescribing, transmit patient care summaries across multiple settings, provide patients access to self-management tools and improve the overall population health.  


Approximately, 78.4% of office-based physicians use EHR systems while 48.1% of those work with a basic level EHR system. According to findings of a patient experience survey with EHR systems, it was reported that physicians with EHR systems that meet meaningful use criteria felt that it provided time savings and resulted in enhanced confidentiality and less disruption in doctor-patient interactions. In addition, properly implemented EHR systems also provided greater financial and clinical benefits as compared to basic systems.


It is important to remember that electronic health record systems are not a novelty. In one form or another, healthcare providers have been using EHRs for many decades. In the past, doctors used standalone workstations to store patient data. However, with advancement in information technology, data storage as moved to the cloud and has become more efficient, portable and rapidly transferable.  


EHR systems have made the healthcare system more efficient in following ways:


−    Ability to transfer medical records across geographic borders, to another hospital or department. This enables access to complete and accurate information at the point of care.

−    Help improves patient management and engagement. With just a few clicks providers can not only access patient medical records anytime and anywhere but also coordinate care with their peers to improve the quality of care delivered.

−  Lower operational costs with less labor expense to maintain paper records and reduced need for transcription services. Once a medical record has been added in electronic format, it requires almost no management which directly impacts operational cost.

−   Safer and reliable workflows with EHRs to enable e-prescribing, laboratory, and X-RAY ordering and reporting. An efficient EHR-based workflow can reduce chances of error and eliminate lost records to deliver effective and safer care.

−  Enabled Increased patient engagement between patient and providers. Electronic records allow patients to participate in their own care and let provider-patient to work on delivering better patient care collectively.


Even with these benefits, implementation of EHR systems has proven to be a significant challenge for healthcare organizations.


−  EHR adoption substantially increases the effort needed to manage the privacy and protection of the patient records. Over the years,  there have been numerous incidents of security breaches and stolen patient health information. Although, healthcare organizations invest heavily in creating secure and compliant solutions but securing and managing connected electronic records is a dynamic process and requires constant monitoring and auditing to track down threats and flaws before they happen.

−   Higher start-up and maintenance cost of transitioning to electronic medical records – larger the organization, greater the cost. Resource training, culture change, new workflows adoption and constant need for support make EHR adoption an intimidating task for any organization.  The higher start-up costs for smaller practices make it difficult for them to recoup.

−    Delivering education & continuous training on the usage of the EHR is another challenge faced by organizations. Healthcare staff needs to be trained for compliance, maintenance, confidentiality, and various workflows on effective use of the system. Without a proper training program, user do not understand the system completely which directly impacts the quality of care.

−   Perceived depersonalization of provider and patient relationship as providers feel that they are spending more time interacting with the computer than with the patient.

−   Extensive data capturing hampers the clinical workflows of physician. Not only data entry is both cumbersome and time-consuming but providers are also put-off by UI/UX to manage  their workflows. Although keeping everything electronic gives them an ability to remain connected to their patients but unnecessary alerts and notifications also create an alert fatigue on both patient and provider side.


While the general dissatisfaction remains with adoption of EHRs, the fact remains that addressing above mentioned challenges as per your organizational goals can definitely lead  better, coordinated and cost-effective care.

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The Limits on Healthcare Learning From the Business World 

The Limits on Healthcare Learning From the Business World  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

A favorite criticism of EHRs is that they are glorified billing platforms, rather than clinical tools.


Despite being sold to — and subsequently, by — the federal government as being healthcare’s ticket into the modern age, and to leveraging big data, EHRs haven’t so far facilitated the kinds of analytics initially touted as the new standard in medicine.


Part of the shortfall in realizing the potential of EHRs may be fairly ascribed to overselling; new technology and new applications of existing technology tantalize imaginations. In an industry with as many challenges and problems to solve as healthcare, it is understandable that advocates got carried away with silver bullet thinking about EHRs and let development and implementation — not to mention security — fall behind.


But part of the problem is also an overextension of the analogy that what works for the business world, ought to also work for healthcare. Even outside of EHRs and questions of technology, the assertion that business leaders, models, systems, and tools have pedagogical value for healthcare leaders, and practical value for clinics, has become so popular that for many it sounds indistinguishable from conventional wisdom

That may have its merits, but the reality (all too familiar for those actually working in healthcare) is that business lessons very often don’t apply to the health sector.


Are EHRs Failing to Deliver Analytics?

When big data doesn’t work, it isn’t necessarily a failure of information, but a user error; a failure to properly organize information, or to ask the right questions of that information. In other words, big data doesn’t just happen by virtue of keeping digital records or even hiring data scientists to get things in order. There has to be a compelling use case, a specific goal associated with the data to turn raw information into something actionable. This is where business and healthcare diverge most dramatically.

The business use case for big data is, first and foremost, about competition. A forensic look at marketing initiatives, supply chains, tax planning, even compensation, all serves to make businesses more lean, more efficient, more profitable, and ultimately, more resilient in the face of stiff competition. McDonald’s managed it before “big data” was a buzzword, by simplifying its menu and streamlining its kitchen. Today, it is synonymous with “fast food” not because it is holistically the best, but because it led the pack in turning analysis into a competitive advantage. And it continues to use technology, analytics, and big data to further hone everything from sandwich assembly to locating new franchises around the world.


It should hardly require saying so, but healthcare has no McDonald’s model to follow.


Healthcare data analytics — carried on the backs of EHRs — are not necessarily intended to support competitive improvements or advantages. By and large, major clinics and hospitals have a virtual monopoly, if not geographically, then often in terms of insurance networks, or both. So the idea that competition drives innovation, optimization, or introspection is a non-starter.


The Profit Motive

Businesses are looking for improvement opportunities not just to aid the bottom line, but to boost profitability. The majority of clinics in the United States are, at least on paper, nonprofits (or government-operated). So in these hospitals, that “bottom line” under scrutiny by CEOs and data scientists often has more to do with volume, sustainability of operations, and especially coordinating with insurers in order to remain solvent.

Big data in business enables corporations to minimize the costs of their own operations, and to pass on some measure of savings to customers. That boosts profitability not just by making the cost of business lower, but by incenting consumers to buy more, or at least, to elect to buy from the optimized company. Everyone along the supply chain is looking for the best, for the least.


Healthcare is never so straightforward. Prices are hopelessly opaque in healthcare, and the relationship between the many stakeholders along the supply chain — from universities to providers, clinics to insurers, consumers to pharmaceutical companies — is all but impossible to optimize because there are so many different motives, inputs, and contradictions involved. People are looking for the best, but seldom have any way to judge quality, or have no access to competitive alternatives, or to balance quality with cost, or to hold anyone along the way accountable for quality or, for that matter, setting prices.


What this all amounts to is a limitation on the ability of healthcare organizations to make use of their data in the same way their business sector counterparts have been doing with any hope for success, insight, or actionable conclusions. That the finances of free market corporations and health systems are different is itself not an especially novel observation, but the fundamental difference of motivation extends further than price-setting and value-shopping.


Optimizing for Engagement

Although broadly similar, and often looked for in the data, the effect of “engagement” in a normal business setting is critically different from the sort of engagement providers and health systems are trying to achieve with patients.


Engagement in marketing is a matter of driving conversions; the more consumers hang out on your site or are exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to convert to buyers. This kind of engagement takes shape as funnel: get the widest possible audience to begin engaging, then optimize every node, webpage, or conversation to drive them all toward one destination: purchase.

In the business world, you see this driven by big data in the form of things like A/B testing to maximize webpage performance. Optimizing ecommerce or brand websites, targeting marketing messages, streamlining design for user experience and ease of navigation — it all funnels down to that old bottom line. When a given consumer’s experience seamlessly and pleasantly flows from landing on a website to buying a product or service, the engagement effort has worked. Engagement for business, in other words, is discrete.


Engagement in healthcare has a very different connotation, with extremely different end goals: engagement is about adherence, first and foremost. Getting patients engaged with their care is a function not of encouraging brand loyalty or making a sale, but of trying to optimize the value of the care they have already received. In other words, engagement after the sale is more important than leading up to the sale, because what happens after a visit to the hospital can be more critical to patient health than the limited encounter they have with providers.


In medicine, engagement is continuous, and more a matter of perpetual relationship-building, of exchanging feedback, than of driving everyone to one universal outcome. Individual patient health goals are unique; sales goals are easily generalized. A/B testing a patient portal may help improve general user experience, but the substance of a patient’s chart, or conversation with a provider, can’t be optimized the same way a product page can. While a specific retailer or brand can optimize experiences to their specific consumer demographic, healthcare organizations have the impossible challenge of optimizing all patient engagement pathways to anyone and everyone who needs medical attention.


Redesigning Health Data

The other example of A/B testing in healthcare, of course, is the control study for medications, new procedures, or determining best practices. This is where the real value, the maximum return on investment, from adopting EHRs should be sought. The big data EHRs deliver can only do so much to highlight wasted revenue, inefficiencies, or optimized patient experiences in the sense that the business world so often makes use of. But outside of the profit motive, or of engaging consumers to make a sale, big data in healthcare can begin to reveal population trends, problems with current standards, pathways of disease, and where health resources are needed most.


The best use case for data in healthcare is not a matter of competition as it is in the business world. It is a matter of learning, of monitoring populations not to take advantage of trends, but to anticipate and prevent disaster or outbreaks. The best use of the data is not presenting it to leadership or business-minded members of the C-suite, but making it accessible to the academic community, to researchers and scientists who can turn it into a competitive advantage against death and disease, rather than the marketplace.


Achieving this takes standardization, interoperability, and some amount of relief for providers feeling taxed by the need to play data scientist and doctor at the same time. All easier said than done; what’s worse, interoperability among legitimate and authorized users is lagging behind security failures and vulnerabilities across the healthcare industry. But progress can start with recognizing that EHRs don’t need more help from the business world to fulfill their promise. EHRs, like scalpels or stethoscopes, don’t belong in the boardroom, and their use and design is best left not to administrative types, but to medical professionals.

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Is an Automated EHR Data Conversion Right for You?

Is an Automated EHR Data Conversion Right for You? | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

EHR data conversion is the process of taking data from a legacy electronic health record system and transferring it to a new system. EHR data conversion can either be performed manually or through an automated process. Manual data conversion carries a significant risk of data manipulation. As a result, many healthcare organizations choose automated EHR data conversion when working with large sets of data.


Determining if an automated data conversion is right for your healthcare organization can be a difficult challenge. Below you will find the types of questions you should ask your in-house team when considering if an automated EHR data conversion fits your organization’s needs.


In an automated conversion, source values are extracted from both the legacy (source) system and new (target) system to create a conversion map. That map is entered into a conversion utility software. Data from the legacy system is run through the conversion utility and transformed to meet the needs of the new system. While it is being transformed, the conversion utility is monitoring for errors and success rates. After the data has met the standards, it is then loaded into the new system.


  • Have we acquired or do we plan to acquire facilities with disparate EHRs?
  • Are we going to continue to acquire new practices or hospitals?
  • Are we struggling with a plan for handling and storing the data?
  • Do our providers and staff function out of more than one system?
  • Does our EHR have capacity we are not using?
  • Does our legacy system require internal experts?
  • Do we have specialties, such as Obstetric Gynecology or Pediatrics, that are required to store data for longer periods of time?
  • Do we have more than 30,000 records we need to convert?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, an automated EHR data conversion might be a good fit for your healthcare organization.

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Preparing Health IT Infrastructure for Artificial Intelligence

Preparing Health IT Infrastructure for Artificial Intelligence | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Artificial intelligence requires much health IT infrastructure planning to support the storage and computing power needed for a successful solution.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been working itself into health IT infrastructure as organizations need more advanced technology to handle the growing amount of healthcare data.


As AI becomes more of a reality, organizations have to realistically work AI solutions into their IT infrastructure. This can be a challenging process because AI requires a significant amount of computing power and skills to manage the new layers of technology.


Organizations are finding that it’s challenging to integrate AI into their operational processes, according to a recent Tractica report.

Dig Deeper

  • How Artificial Intelligence Can Shape Health IT Infrastructure
  • Artificial Intelligence Uses EHRs as Smart Analytics Tools
  • Artificial Intelligence Adds Pressure to Health IT Networks

AI was created to emulate the human mind and working processes, and can independently solve problems without needing to be programmed to do so. AI can accept new information and learn from it without human intervention.


The computing power behind AI allows it to process information exponentially faster than a human could, fixing problems or drawing conclusions that the human mind would never be able to achieve.


“Enabling AI at the enterprise scale is not a plug-and-play proposition,” Tractica Principal Analyst Keith Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “Significant time, resources, and capital must be deployed, and in most cases, internal company teams are not experienced enough with AI, nor do they have the cutting-edge data science skills to adequately embark upon a truly transformational AI implementation.”


Entities need to decide how they’re going to handle the infrastructure changes needed to process and store data. Organizations must also find the staff needed to manage and monitor the AI solution.


AI is one of the more robust technologies that’s part of the digital transformation, and can be applied to analytics and cybersecurity.

Healthcare entities having a broad surface area is one of the biggest IT infrastructure security challenges facing organizations today. The wider surface area means there are more potentially vulnerable places cyberattackers can take advantage of.


With more ground to cover, IT security staff can be stretched thin and legacy network security systems might not be able to catch evolving security attacks.


Applying AI to cybersecurity solutions will help organizations find gaps in their security infrastructure and prevent future attacks.

AI is also used heavily in healthcare analytics. A computer with AI can look at an image of a healthy brain scan and an image of a brain scan with tumors. The device could then recognize the difference between the two images by breaking them down into machine-readable patterns.


The machine can remember and reference these patterns, then apply them to future images to determine which patterns indicate that a brain tumor is present.


Most healthcare organizations cannot afford to deploy an AI solution on-premises or have the space to accommodate the required hardware.


Cloud-based AI solutions and cloud storage are good options for healthcare organizations.


Cloud-based storage is a flexible storage solution, and often provides healthcare organizations with a more cost-effective storage strategy over traditional on-premise deployments.

When organizations begin to consider the future costs of scaling up based on the increased amount of data, budget concerns come to the forefront of the decision-making process.


On-premise storage solutions require organizations to purchase hardware and only offer a finite amount of space available before additional hardware needs to be added. Cloud services act as a utility with organizations paying monthly or yearly fees based on what they are using.


As organizations need more space, they scale up their cloud service requirements and increase payments accordingly.

AI is still a young technology when it comes to enterprise IT infrastructure implementation, but it is expected grow significantly worldwide over the next several years.


As healthcare organizations look to implement an AI solution in the near future, ensuring the organization’s health IT infrastructure can support it is key to deploying a successful AI analytics solution.

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Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices 

Lessons Learned from EHR Integration of Medical Devices  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Human lives depend on how well a healthcare organization manages its EHR integration of medical devices.

As the assigned project manager spearheading numerous large health system enterprise-wise medical device integration programs for over a decade, I’ve learned an essential lesson about EHR integration of medical devices.

Data captured from thousands of heart monitors, ventilators, balloon pumps, and other bedside devices must be perfectly managed, seamlessly integrated, and standardized to each patient’s electronic health record (EHR) and then made accessible to multiple providers. Once synced properly across the care continuum, connected medical devices play a critical role in the transfer of near real-time, reliable data to EHRs that improve both the safety and quality of patient care.

Otherwise, failing to do so can prove fatal.

Lessons borne out of experience

My role in bringing together clinicians, IT experts and device vendor representatives is to achieve that goal through flawless organization of precise integration methods and over-communication. Sharing information among these three teams is paramount to our success — that is, we’re managing vital data used by physicians and nurses as analytics in making life-changing medical decisions as quickly as possible.

Additionally, I have learned other valuable lessons about EHR integration of medical devices.

Start with a clean inventory list of biomedical devices and equipment planned for the device integration project. This list should comprise the number counts of all devices and supporting equipment including firmware versions and serial ports in addition to Ethernet gateway connections.

At the project’s onset evaluate and identify devices lacking the capability to integrate. Identify older firmware versions and research feasibility of cost to update as opposed to replacement.

Conduct walkthroughs on clinical rounds to determine data points for integration in order to identify network cabling and power needs. At that time, initiate engaging device vendors and setting clear deadlines and key parameters for the EHR integration.

Ensure middleware vendors partnering with the medical facilities supply all security-related product information upfront.

Invite middleware vendors to an onsite visit to determine exactly how much hardware is needed to ensure connectivity with other devices. Also include them in weekly or biweekly team update meetings. They are oftentimes overlooked.

Be adaptable and versatile to make quick adjustments while also striving to deliver impeccable results. Since workflows are not usually established upfront, responsibilities get shuffled around and integration details quickly become overwhelming.

Find creative ways to facilitate communication among the different team members. For example, assign color-coded status levels — green, yellow and red — to flag a change in project progression to speed up problem resolution. When senior management tackles red status issues as a group, expect people to pay attention!

Organization translates to project acceleration

Finally, organization of every integration detail is imperative. Associated device hardware, such as installing mounting hardware and new monitors in each patient room, must be managed. Biomedical managers, hospital IT groups, and clinical administrators must work concurrently to coordinate every step. In my experience, managing all of these different teams is by far the most challenging aspect of device integration.

Our healthcare ecosystem is slowly but surely modernizing, and we must leverage our technologies every possible way to maximize delivery of patient care to improve outcomes and the patient-provider experience. Ultimately, the success of any enterprise-wide EHR integration of medical devices is founded on strong communication and organization in addition to data management.

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EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage 

EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

During EHR implementations, trainers are frequently the first to introduce end-users to the new technology. Users often come to EHR training frustrated about the change and nervous about acclimating to a new system. Adding to the pressure they feel, EHR training may only entail a one-time training class that delivers an immense amount of information in a short period of time—unless the healthcare organization offers on-site interim training opportunities, users often never touch the EHR again until after go-live. Under those circumstances, trainee resistance and fear are understandable.

What I’ve discovered in my years as a trainer is that successful EHR adoption is not just about the technical training. The biggest part of my job is to give end-users encouragement and confidence that they will be able to adapt to the EHR even though they may forget some of what is taught during training. People learn the best when they feel personally engaged and know that the trainer cares about them. Trainers play a key role in promoting not only technical EHR know-how, but cultural buy-in.

Given the right training environment, EHR trainers can help healthcare organizations diffuse negativity and push-back while bringing end-users up to speed on new EHR workflows. A trainer’s ability to successfully empower users truly does come down to training delivery. Here are some of the best practices that I’ve cultivated over the years to help maximize staff acceptance of the EHR.

Little things matter when creating a welcoming learning environment. When EHR users come to class, stand by the door and greet them. Smile, ask trainees their name and introduce yourself. Don’t just sit behind the desk. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile to make people feel comfortable. Remind trainees that you are there as a resource for them.

Address end-user frustrations head-on. As part of class introductions, ask trainees to comment on how they are feeling about the EHR migration. If necessary, purge EHR transition angst and negativity by letting users briefly share how they feel at the very beginning of class. After that catharsis, implement a strict “no complaining” policy and start working to shift end-user thought patterns. I encourage users to change their internal talk track from one of resistance to one of acceptance.

Employ compassion and empathy to understand where end-users are coming from. Trainees may come to class with feelings of nervousness, fear and anxiety. This is particularly true among non-computer natives, who are pervasive in healthcare. I like to share my personal story of being hired to be a trainer based on my background as a speaker and a nurse, and having to learn the technical aspects of training along the way. Shared experience and understanding go a long way in establishing rapport.

Build a sense of safety and community among end-users. To avoid trainee feelings of inadequacy, I offer patience to those in the class and work to foster a growth mindset. In peer training settings, clinicians often feel they are expected to know everything. Actively work to make end-users feel comfortable asking questions. Remind them that just because they don’t know something yet does not mean they can’t learn it.

Create a different training environment than people expect. Infusing unanticipated elements into the training program can make it more memorable. I like to bring laughter to the training program because if people are laughing, they are learning. Humor can help diffuse tension and put people at ease.

Always opt for words of encouragement. Remind EHR trainees that they can all do it and they will succeed, regardless of age or technical aptitude. Point out that people often learn the same thing in very different ways and warn against comparing one’s learning speed to that of others. All end-users will inevitably forget a portion of what is covered in training but, with the right mindset, they will be able to learn it again.

I can’t say enough about the need for words of affirmation in healthcare. A lot is expected of staff members during an EHR implementation. The stress of training while managing the day-to-day work of patient engagement can be overwhelming. If nothing else, give them hope. We all feel the strain of change in healthcare and we could all use an encouraging word!

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Health IoT creates huge opportunities for public health and software companies 

Health IoT creates huge opportunities for public health and software companies  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

It was evident from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month that there’s a great deal of interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) in general and for Health IoT in particular. Given that interest I thought I would reach out to a couple of experts to help explore the IoT landscape. Murali Kurukunda is Director of IT and Lead Architect at Medecision and Dr. Peter L. Levin, is CEO at Amida, director of ConversaHealth, and a father of the BlueButton initiative (which he helped launch as CTO of VA). Murali and Peter (along with Medecision and Amida) are right in the middle of intersection of data, interoperability, hardware, software and services for IoT in healthcare; they were kind enough to share with me what they’re seeing as the major opportunities in the space.


Here’s what they think, in their own words:


Connecting smart biological sensors to the internet is not a new idea. There are already dozens of products in the market that continuously monitor blood glucose and heart function, for example, and enable secure remote management for clinicians and caretakers. The safety of life implications are enormous, and the commercial opportunities untold. Some analysts predict a $100 billion-plus market for the healthcare segment of the “internet of things” (IoT).

What is new and emerging is the physical scale of the devices on the one hand, and the need to aggregate, reconcile, and consolidate those data streams for downstream clinical care services. Advances in semiconductor device manufacturing will relentlessly drive down the price and the size of these electro-physiological sensors, literally to nanometer scale, which will ultimately be able to do more than detect, they will be able to intervene. At the same time, our ability to make sense of the torrents of information is catching up to our ability to create them.

We believe that these are tremendous opportunities for public health and software companies like ours. It is why we are investing so much of our own resources to promote the open design, secure exchange, and value-added analysis of health data systems. Perhaps the largest inhibitor to a promising future of longer, healthier, less expensive life are the software merchants and device manufacturers who still and astonishingly insist on keeping data closed, isolated, and trapped in proprietary systems. We believe this is about to change too.


The interoperability troubles with electronic medical records are legion, and we won’t waste our page space or your attention lamenting the deeply ignorant and the nearly criminal. The immortal words of Forest Gump’s assessment about doing dumb things finds purchase here.


What we can do, however, is find clever ways leverage of IoT as yet-another, and maybe decisive, fulcrum of connected care. For what is today true in isolation – progressive plans, concerned parents, engaged patients – will soon-enough be more the ubiquitous standard of coordinated care; that coordination will reach deeply into pocketbooks as well as bodies.

We know that there are legitimate concerns about individual privacy and device safety, and that some people would literally rather die than compromise on either. We respect that, even as we actively promote more automation and digital services in health care.


Some of us believe that the existential benefits of independence and longevity outweigh the potential risks of intrusion and malfunction, some of us don’t. The point is that everyone should have the choice, and that no one should be coerced or manipulated into choosing one side of the argument. Fear mongering (about privacy) and fabrication (about intrusion) are forms of manipulation. In the case of health care they cost lives and money.


Let’s, instead, imagine a world of seamless, secure, and reliable health data interoperability. Let’s find a better way to safely liberate data at its source – labs, pharmacies, hospital and clinics, insurance claims, as well as implantable and wearable devices – pass it through hygienically sealed pipes, and receive it in places where it does the most good. That may be during a clinical care or remote telemedical encounter (to give you the best possible advice based on evidence and your personal health history), it may be when you pick up your medicines (to check for interactions with other medicines), or it may be to help your insurance company help you (because they have always had a bird’s eye view of your services, and they can’t kick you out for pre-existing conditions anymore).


Because of changes in the law, it may be with a loved one or trusted caretaker. It may be you.


The data could be as simple as a reminder message about an upcoming appointment, a warning message that a clinical value seems out of range, or an answer to a securely-texted question to your doctor. We have imagined that future and it is, as Ray Kurzweil likes to say, near.


There are two challenges, and they are slowly receding.


The first is that the data holders are still reluctant to share, even though it isn’t “their” data.  This will become less of a problem, as forward-looking providers like VA and DoD have shown, as well as payers like CMS, Aetna, and HCSC among many others have demonstrated.  All are outspoken supporters of the Blue Button program, now in its fifth year, and still growing.


The second falls squarely on our shoulders:  we need to make the user experience attractive, convenient, and useful.  The health IT community has made terrific strides recently – we-two have worked on the InCircle and a soon-to-be announced medication management app, for example –  and there are many companies that target data-driven patient-provider interactions, including AmericanWell and ConversaHealth.


The beautiful thing is that IoT fits so neatly into this conversation. The goal, of course, is to help us achieve our best-possible health. The best way to do this is with data. And the best data is coming at us in ever more granular packages, from patient-hosted sensors that monitor, detect, interact, and intervene. Weaving those into the tapestry of your personal health history is the next vanguard of coordinated and managed care.

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6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care 

6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

The fact that technology is rapidly transforming health care should come as no surprise to anyone. From robotic arms that perform surgery tonanorobots that deliver drugs through the bloodstream, the days of being tended to by the human country doctor seem to have fully given way to machines and software more in keeping with the tools of Dr. McCoy from “Star Trek.”


However, technology’s evolutionary impact on health care isn’t all shooting stars and bells and whistles. Some of health care’s most important changes can slip beneath the radar due to their more pedestrian presentation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as revolutionary as mini robots zipping through veins. Take the burgeoning field of health informatics, for example. A specialization that combines communications, information technology, and health care to improve patient care, it’s at the forefront of the current technological shift in medicine. Here are six ways it’s already transforming health care.


1. Dramatic Savings

Health care isn’t just expensive; it’s wasteful. It’s estimated that half of all medical expenditures are squandered on account of repeat procedures, the expenses associated with more traditional methods of sharing information, delays in care, errors in care or delivery, and the like. With an electronic and connected system in place, much of that waste can be curbed. From lab results that reach their destination sooner improving better an more timely care delivery to reduced malpractice claims, health informatics reduces errors, increases communication, and drives efficiency where before there was costly incompetence and obstruction.


2. Shared Knowledge

There’s a reason medicine is referred to as a “practice,” and it’s because health care providers are always learning more and honing their skills. Health informatics provides a way for knowledge about patients, diseases, therapies, medicines, and the like to be more easily shared. As knowledge is more readily passed back and forth between providers and patients, the practice of medicine gets better — something that aids everyone within the chain of care, from hospital administrators and physicians to pharmacists and patients.


3. Patient Participation

When patients have electronic access to their own health history and recommendations, it empowers them to take their role in their own health care more seriously. Patients who have access to care portals are able to educate themselves more effectively about their diagnoses and prognoses, while also keeping better track of medications and symptoms. They are also able to interact with doctors and nurses more easily, which yields better outcomes, as well. Health informatics allows individuals to feel like they are a valuable part of their own health care team, because they are.


4. The Impersonalization of Care

One criticism of approaching patient care through information and technology is that care is becoming less and less personal. Instead of a doctor getting to know a patient in real time and space in order to best offer care, the job of “knowing” is placed on data and algorithms.


As data is gathered regarding a patient, algorithms can be used to sort it in order to determine what is wrong and what care should be offered. It remains to be seen what effects this data-driven approach will have over time, but regardless, since care is getting less personal, having a valid and accurate record that the patient and his care providers can access remains vital.  


5. Increased Coordination

Health care is getting more and more specialized, which means most patients receive care from as many as a dozen different people in one hospital stay. This increase in specialists requires an increase in coordination, and it’s health informatics that provides the way forward. Pharmaceutical concerns, blood levels, nutrition, physical therapy, X-rays, discharge instructions — it’s astonishing how many different conversations a single patient may have with a team of people regarding care, and unless those conversations and efforts are made in tandem with one another, problems will arise and care will suffer. Health informatics makes the necessary

coordination possible.  


6. Improved Outcomes

The most important way in which informatics is changing health care is in improved outcomes. Electronic medical records result in higher quality care and safer care as coordinated teams provide better diagnoses and decrease the chance for errors. Doctors and nurses are able to increase efficiency, which frees up time to spend with patients, and previously manual jobs and tasks are automated, which saves time and money — not just for hospitals, clinics, and providers, but for patients, insurance companies, and state and federal governments, too.  


Health care is undergoing a massive renovation thanks to technology, and health informatics is helping to ensure that part of the change results in greater efficiency, coordination, and improved care.

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A secret shopper’s perspectives on the EHR and clinical workflow 

A secret shopper’s perspectives on the EHR and clinical workflow  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

As someone who has practiced medicine using both paper and electronic records, and someone who's been focused on the health tech scene for the past 20 years, you might think I've seen it all. Indeed, during my 35 year career in medicine and tech I've traveled the world and learned a lot about healthcare, clinical practice and the intersection between medicine and technology. However, there's nothing like being a secret shopper to get a little reality check on where things stand with electronic health records and clinical workflow.


For the past couple of months, and likely continuing for most of the next year, I am charged with helping a family member through treatments for an all-too-common medical problem--cancer. That means I am accompanying my family member through diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and eventually medical monitoring and follow-up. Let me tell you, there's nothing like being in the trenches of a patient care experience to see how far we've come, and how far we still need to go to fix healthcare.

The hospital and health system we are visiting uses one the major EHR solutions. However, even within the same institution, departments seem anything but connected. When we have multiple appointments on the same day in different departments, we are still filling out paper forms asking the same questions in every department we visit. Worse yet, even when we make our second or third visits to those departments we are again presented with forms to fill out. Wouldn't it be better to fill out that information on a tablet device or kiosk and make it available to all departments at once? Wouldn't it be better on subsequent visits for us simply to review the information on an electronic screen and edit or update it as needed? Where's the single version of the truth?


In the exam room I've noted how much time clinicians and support staff are spending in front of the computer, rather than with the patient. The only doctors not doing this are the super-specialists who foist most of that burden on scribes or other members of their support staff. Furthermore, the computers in the exam rooms are mounted to a wall or sitting on a counter, often forcing the user to have his or her back to the patient. Clinicians must assume a kind of sideways posture with head bobbing back and forth between the machine and the patient. Where are the mobile devices--the laptops, tablets, and smartphones? Has anyone really given a thought to the importance of mobility in clinical workflow?

Then there's the clinical user interface that looks like it came from the dark ages. It took one of our providers about ten minutes just to key in an order for a durable medical supply and print it out for our insurance company. The user interface to the institution's patient-facing portal is equally bad. A web-savvy teenager could likely do better. Today's portals need to look and work more like Facebook or LinkedIn than something from the dawn of the Internet.

Another inefficiency I have observed isn't so much about bad tech as stupid billing mandates. Even when visiting different physicians in different departments on the same day, during each visit staff enter the exam room to take and document vital signs. Over and over again the thermometer and blood pressure come out, even though vital signs were just taken and documented 30 minutes ago in a different department. I finally asked why this was necessary only to be told that unless it is done the physician will not be paid. Has anyone considered what this totally unnecessary and duplicative workflow is costing our hospitals and health systems in wasted staff time? Let's stop the insanity.

By now, I'm sure you are thinking I've grown old and crotchety. I probably have. But please future generations of software developers, EHR vendors, regulators, and others; can't we do better for our clinicians and patients? I'm sure we can.

If you would like to become more familiar with the work Microsoft is doing in health and the healthcare industry (in cloud computing, mobility and devices, productivity and collaboration, and advanced analytics) please contact your account executive or visit Microsoft in Health.

Bill Crounse, MD      Senior Director, Worldwide Health         Microsoft 

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Pros and Cons of Patient Access to Electronic Medical Records

Pros and Cons of Patient Access to Electronic Medical Records | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Doesn’t it seem faintly ridiculous that patients have to jump through hoops to get access to information that, since it is in digital format, would be so readily available to them? Today’s patients are quite accustomed to being able to access data on demand, from whatever location on Earth, as long as they have Internet access and a mobile device or laptop computer.


They can, for example, log into their financial institution’s website to check their latest details. Parents of school-aged children routinely access a portal developed by their school to get information about upcoming tests, new requirements, and so on.

Furthermore, the advent of email, text messaging, and social media updates has lead to people becoming accustomed to easy communication with one another. But think about how much of an effort it is for patients to communicate with a medical practice (waiting on hold on the phone to leave a message for a nurse practitioner, for example, and then having to wait more for a reply that might not come until the following day).


You may have already deployed a patient portal for your organization, but are not quite sure about the protocols for sharing information. Or, you are somewhat familiar with patient portals, but you’re still not sure whether it’s a good idea to even have one and you would like more information before making an investment in this software solution.


Familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of patient access to electronic medical records is essential before you pull the trigger and launch a patient portal at your organization.

Modern medical practices that have forward-thinking leaders will already have electronic health record or EHR software installed or are about to deploy it. An EHR is a database of all the records for your patients. It’s much more efficient than an antiquated, paper-based method for organizing charts in your practice. The EHR lets you keep track of all important information, from medical history, current diagnosis, details of the treatment plan and any medications that have been prescribed.

One feature of Electronic Medical Records software that medical professionals should be aware of is the patient portal, along with its benefits and potential drawbacks.

Pros of Allowing Patients to Have Access to their Electronic Medical Records

A major pro of patient portals is that they improve patient engagement. Engaged patients are more likely to stay loyal to a practice as compared to other organizations that don’t make much of an effort to connect.

Your staff can easily receive messages from patients over the portal, in a process that’s as easy as email. This cuts down on a lot of wasted time on both ends (patients forced to stay on hold to leave a message by phone, and staffers having to write down the message).


A patient portal reduces the total amount of time spent on the phone and can cut down on unnecessary visits. What’s more, it has been proven to reduce the number of no-shows.

Patients will be happier, since they can access their medical information using their own electronic devices, even when on the go.

They will also appreciate being able to check prescription information and request refills online. When patients need to schedule an office visit, they simply sign into the portaland make a request. This makes things easier for them as well as for your staff.


Finally, a patient portal eliminates one of the great drudgeries of modern medicine: patients having to fill out a big stack of paper intake forms before they have their first meeting with the doctor.

You can let them input their information through the portal (such as at a kiosk in your waiting area, or from the patient’s computer). They won’t have to fill in their address or list of allergies more than once, and your staff won’t have to transcribe information from potentially messily handwritten documents.

Cons of Allowing Patients to Have Access to their Electronic Medical Records

While there are a number of clear benefits to using a patient portal with your EHR or EMR, there are also some drawbacks to be aware of, so you can address them head-on.

For example, when you enable outside access to your EHR information via a portal, data security concerns will naturally come up. The system must use strong passwords and should include the latest encryption and other protections. Otherwise, patient data could be compromised, leading to fraud and identity theft.

A portal can be tough for some patients to comprehend, especially if they have been used to doing things the old-fashioned way. However, you can educate and acclimate patients to the portal when you explain the benefits to them.

There is also the issue of patients being exposed to more medical jargon then they are used to, including acronyms and strange Latin terms for body parts. But they can always look up terms they are unfamiliar with, or simply ask a member of your team for an explanation.


Your older patients may not be very tech-savvy, which could hinder their efforts to log in and access data through the portal. But portals interfaces can be easily simplified and a simple training brochure or online video could make a big difference in getting more patients used to the idea of using the system.

It’s natural to have a number of questions about installing an EHR and activating a patient portal for your practice. Once you have a better idea of how patient portals can empower your staff as well as your patients, you’ll be on your way toward deploying one in your organization.

Key Takeaway:

  • Electronic health record or EHR software enables you to activate a special patient portal.
  • A patient portal is a great way to let patients access their own information on demand.
  • One con to keep in mind with patient portals is that some patients may not have much experience with computers, preventing them from getting the most out of it.
  • Another drawback is the potential for data breaches, so you’ll need to work with a vendor that provides robust, secure EHR software.
  • Patients will appreciate being able to check into the system to set an appointment or request a prescription refill.
  • Your staff will waste less time because patients can leave them electronic messages via the portal, instead of having to stop what they are doing to respond to a call.
  • Patients find it liberating to gain more access to their lab test results through the portal, rather than waiting for the report to come by surface mail or a phone call from the physician.
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EHR vs EMR: What are the Key Differences?

EHR vs EMR: What are the Key Differences? | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Any given industry will tend to develop its own particular vernacular, with inside terms that outsiders typically do not need to understand but are essential for key players to be aware of. Jargon serves to separate professionals from the non-experts and members of the public, and its use also saves time when writing and speaking about various concepts.

A case in point is the healthcare industry, where many people in medical practices have heard the terms “EHR” and “EMR” being bandied about but are not quite sure what they refer to or what the differences are between the two.

The first step in understanding EHR vs EMR is to know that EHR stands for electronic health records and EMR stands for electronic medical records. They are similar applications but have different capabilities that you should become aware of.


About Electronic Medical Records

Essentially, EMRs are digital versions of paper charts and are maintained at the doctor’s office. In the early days of digital medical information, clinicians were focused on medical diagnosis and treatment, which explains why they used the term “Medical” in EMR. (By contrast, the “Health” in EHR refers to a patient’s overall health situation and not just medical questions as revealed by diagnosis and lab test results.)


Key benefits of an EMR include helping the physicians keep track of data over time and identify which patients need to come in for a checkup, screening, or appointment.

EMRs also help practitioners get a quick glance at the patients’ basic vitals, such as blood pressure and weight. Finally, an EMR enables you to get a better view of the state of the practice and how it is doing in treated patients.


However, there are also some disadvantages when it comes to using electronic medical records. For example, you cannot share information about your patients outside of the office.

Consider what happens if you run a family medical practice and you are referring a patient to see a specialist, such as an endocrinologist. Your practice needs to share information with the specialist, but since the EMR is only designed for internal use by one practice, your staff would probably need to print out the patient’s chart and mail it.


This means that your EMR files are pretty much the same as paper records at this point. And when the specialist has information to add, the details cannot be transferred back to your EMR without your staff first typing them in from the specialist’s faxed or mailed documentation.

About Electronic Health Records

An EHR contains all of the things an EMR does, but offers much more. EHRs are designed to collect all medical information from all healthcare sources, including multiple physicians, hospitals, and the patient themselves.

Benefits of switching to an EHR system include:

  • Secure when compared to paper records: You can designate specific members of your team to access and change records, as well as conduct audits to detect when people try to gain unauthorized access.

  • Also secure to send and share information with others: The data that you share with other parties, such as a specialist, must be safeguarded so that criminal hackers cannot make off with patient information and commit identity theft and fraud.

  • Important information available in emergencies: The EHR allows patient information to be made present to emergency room doctors immediately with the full medical history and details on any allergies or other issues.

  • Patient portal: A patient portal lets patients enter their own information from the comfort of home using an internet-connected computer, instead of having to fill out stacks of paper forms that your staff will later have to input by hand.

  • Access to advanced tools: An EHR will include tools and various features to help you make better decisions and work more efficiently. For example, you can useanalytics to detect emerging patterns of patient behavior, such as more no-shows to appointments in a certain population or ZIP code.

  • E-prescribing: Electronic versions of traditional prescriptions made by signing a piece of paper from the physician’s Rx pad are more convenient for the doctor, who just needs to transmit the details to the pharmacy. Patients don’t need to wait, since the medicine will be processed while they travel from the doctor’s office.

  • Voice-to-text data entry: Typing in patient details takes longer than speaking. You can activate speech recognition in your EHR to automatically transcribe what the nurse or doctor says, and the text appears on the screen in real time.

  • Reporting: Each report that you need to generate for your practice, such as revenue projections or how many patients have failed to pay their bill after the second notice are much easier to generate, thanks to templates that you customize in the EHR application.

It’s Essential That a Modern Medical Practice Uses Some Form of Electronic Records

Any modern practice needs some form of electronic records. Trying to get by using a paper-based system will simply not do.

What’s more, your practice is eligible to receive financial incentives from Medicare and Medicaid, but only if you are using certified EHR software that allows you to communicate details about patients electronically to insurance providers and public health researchers.

Paper records secured by a mere filing cabinet and a reliance on your staff to only access the details when authorized make for bad business practices in this day and age. With electronic records, you can maintain security by keeping unauthorized individuals from seeing patient information.


Electronic records also make for better patient engagement, especially when you consider how much time they save in the clinical setting, allowing your nurses and doctors to spend more time on treatment and less time on record keeping.

A patient portal activated in your electronic records will further boost engagement, since patients can access the system to check on things such as lab results, request an appointment, or send a message to a member of your staff. The more engaged patients are, the better chance you have of retaining them for the long term.

Key Takeaway

  • For professionals working in the healthcare industry, it’s good to have an understanding of EHR vs EMR.
  • EHR stands for Electronic Health Records.
  • EMR stands for Electronic Medical Records.
  • While EHR and EMR might seem to be referring to the same thing, an EHR is more flexible, because it lets you gather information from multiple sources while an EMR only handles local data.
  • Any medical practice that is still relying on antiquated systems based on paper to keep track of patient records will need to upgrade to some form of electronic records in order to remain competitive.
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9 Best Practices For Choosing EMR Software 

9 Best Practices For Choosing EMR Software  | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Selecting an electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) for your medical practice is a challenging, but very important task. Purchasing and installing a new EMR system require a lot of research and time. The best EMR software for your practice will fit in with your practice’s workflow and increase efficiency, but a bad EMR will halt your workflow and cause frustrations.

The following best practices should be considered before selecting and implementing a new system, to ensure you select the best EMR for your practice. 

1. Create a list of requirements.

Make a list of EMR software requirements based on the needs of your practice. This list may include the need for e-Prescribing software, automatic billing, scheduling features, and others. Also map out your ideal practice workflow and usual patient visit flow to determine how potential EMR software could complement your workflow instead of hindering it.

It is important to involve all the physicians and staff in your office in the development of this list, ensuring that all aspects of the practice have been considered. However, a physician should be in charge of the decision, not the back-office or IT staff. This decision requires leadership and an understanding of the medical requirements.

2. Analyze your budget.

Purchasing and integrating an EMR system into your practice workflow can be costly. However, the benefits of EMR systems can be worth the financial investment and may even help your practice save money in the long run. Besides the initial EHR / EMR costs, there are hardware, implementation, training, and maintenance costs to consider when purchasing a new system. Find our more about what EMR costs you can expect with a new EMR system.

3. Only consider specialty-specific EMR systems.

EMR software that is designed for your particular specialty is customized to deal with the unique characteristics associated with your specialty. The customization includes specialty-specific features and templates. It is crucial that you only consider software that is designed for your specialty, not software that you need to make adjustments to in order to use. This will help your practice workflow tremendously.

4. Systems architecture.

There are many factors of the EMR system to consider, including the system architecture of the software: web-based or client/server. One type of system architecture is not better than the other, however, one may be better for your particular practice. When choosing EMR software, you will need to decide which type of system architecture is best suited for the needs of your practice and will complement your workflow. Read more about web-based vs client/server EMR.

5. Ensure the EMR System has been certified

Any EMR system you are considering for your practice should be tested and certified by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”). The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) is the responsible agency for establishing EMR certification standards and certifying vendor EMR products. ONC-ATCB certification assures that your EMR has met required Meaningful Use (“MU”) objectives and measures. This is a prerequisite to obtaining MU Medicaid (up to $63,750) and Medicare (up to $44,000) incentives for adopting an EMR, and avoiding penalties for not adopting one.

6. Get advice from other physicians and staff.

The best way to understand how an EMR system will fit in with a practice’s workflow is to witness it first hand. You may want to visit a practice that currently using the EMR software you are considering implementing. Talk to physicians and the staff about the EMR software to find out if the software would be suited to your practice and what issues you may face with usage or installation.

7. Decide how much support you will require.

Most vendors will offer 24/7 support, but you need to make sure you understand what sort of support you will be receiving. You may need nighttime or weekend support if your practice is open beyond normal office hours. You may also need on-site help instead of help from a call center. Lastly, understand the extent of the support you will be receiving. Instead of just technical assistance, you may want additional assistance installing new features and upgrades, and fixing bugs. Be sure to ask these questions before purchasing from a particular EMR vendors.

8. Have a lawyer review the purchase agreement.

Since purchasing an EMR software is a big commitment, have an attorney review the purchase agreement to make sure the software is what was promised and includes the right features. Also be sure you understand all the costs and additional fees associated with the EMR software purchase.

9.  Spend time installing the EMR system.

Transitioning to electronic medical records takes a lot of time, so do not underestimate the time and effort you will need to put in. Apart from installing new hardware and software, you will also need to manually scan or input existing paper records into the system. Be prepared to hire additional help during this process, as it can be time-consuming and disruptive to your workflow. It is also recommended that physicians schedule fewer appointments during the transition time.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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