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Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Categorizing, Prioritizing, Integrating and Approving Effort

Most issues can be categorized into four areas:

 

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

 

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


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

 

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


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

 

Optimization Implementation and Ongoing Maintenance

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

 

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

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

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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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Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Categorizing, Prioritizing, Integrating and Approving Effort

Most issues can be categorized into four areas:

 

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

 

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


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

 

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


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

 

Optimization Implementation and Ongoing Maintenance

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

 

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

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

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

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The EHR Journey – Selecting an EHR Vendor

The EHR Journey – Selecting an EHR Vendor | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

As a healthcare organization, innovation and change can be a challenge. And while many changes are forced, either by government mandate, financial incentive, or patient care necessity, each organization must make a series of decisions that will dictate their technological, financial and cultural future. Though the EHR journey, from selection and implementation to maintenance and upgrades, is not easy, it is necessary. In this series, we reached out to Terri Couts, VP of Epic Application Programs at Guthrie Clinic, for her thoughts on the end-to-end EHR journey.

 

EHR Vendor Selection
The easiest part about selecting an EHR vendor is making the decision that you need one. The selection itself can be, and in my opinion, should be a challenging task. No matter what vendor you choose, you can be sure that it will be a large financial investment. In the past, organizations would tend to steer towards the “best of breed” approach. This approach can lead an organization down the path of silo systems and disjointed processes creating additional work and costs.

 

There are many vendors who deliver an excellent product, but do you understand what your requirements are of the system? Defining the scope, requirements, and the desired outcomes are all part of the first step. Many users look to the technology to address a need and ask questions like “what can Epic do for me?” However, I would challenge our users to understand their requirements ahead of time and use those requirements to drive your selection process. List out the requirements and make sure to have a rating scale for each when you meet with vendors.

 

I have found that attending several vendor demos can help you identify the requirements that you ultimately want to have in your EHR. If they are good vendors, they have already done a great deal of research for their development. Use their investment to your advantage. Participate in as many demo sessions as you need to come up with a robust and complete RFP.

 

Also, make sure you have the right stakeholders at the table when defining the requirements. Be careful not to get sidetracked by the shiny new object and focus on how it can align with the organization’s goals, value, and mission. Vendors are good at showing the functionality around the new buzzwords such as big data, population health, and the newest artificial intelligence features. However, if they cannot meet the organization’s core function needs, none of that will matter.

 

Every organization’s needs are different based on their type of patients, variation in care, location, and finances. Therefore, there is not a single checklist that all organizations can use. However, I have found that the more integration the system offers, the better. Taking away silos within departments allows for the highest level of transparency driving an increase in patient safety and outcomes.

 

Again, I believe the hardest part of selecting a new EHR is identifying what you want out of the system. Once you know that, you can make the system work for you and instead of you working for the system. The decision to implement a new EHR is one you will have to live with for a long time. It’s an investment in your organization’s future. Put the effort and work in ahead of time to be sure the investment is something you can live with and scale.

 

The EHR journey can span years and effectively dictates, at least in part, the healthcare organization’s path and culture. This series examines the experiences of healthcare leaders that have been through it. Whether you’re selecting an EHR for the first time or replacing an existing system, the EHR journey is a daunting one. These lessons learned could be priceless to you and your organization.

 

Check back soon as the next post in this series will cover workflows and their importance throughout your EHR Journey.

 

Make sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest thought leadership in healthcare IT delivered directly to your inbox. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to join the conversation. Check back for our next Center Stage feature in the coming weeks.

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

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Here we go again ... EHR Reset, Refuel, Optimize

Here we go again ... EHR Reset, Refuel, Optimize | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

At some point, we all thought the Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation lifecycle would stabilize and transition into the ever elusive “maintenance mode”. Costs would go down, patient quality and care would improve, physicians would be more efficient and effective in the care of their patients, physicians would actually “like” the system, and the world would go back to normal. Right? Well, that is partially right. And now it would seem that it’s time for an EHR reset.

 

The introduction of the integrated EHR did accomplish many of these goals. We can quote statistics of a positive move towards gaining all of these benefits. However, we can also bring to light many frustrations with physicians, clinical teams, operations teams and even patients.

 

Pro-Active EHR Optimization is a Necessity
Why is this? For one, we forgot that the expectations, the functionality, and the potential are always moving farther to the right. These expectations are supported by advancing capabilities within EHRs but are also driven by the need for data science capabilities that provide innovative, real-time solutions to deliver patient care when, where and how it is needed.

 

Vendor sponsored EHR capabilities advance on a regular basis by introducing new functionality and capabilities, by expanding their capabilities for integration, analytics, and other critical functions and by offering alternative solutions to support the changing needs of the market (e.g., Community based solutions, organization acquisitions and organic growth, lower cost solutions with rapid implementation timelines, etc.)


The healthcare market is ever changing as is the expectations of those who work in the healthcare field. Introducing an integrated EHR is the first taste that required healthcare providers and operators to open their minds about “how it could be”. Now that we have asked them to think this way, the door is open. EHR vendor capabilities and their integration with other third-party systems that support integration, analytics and even data science are now the “norm” to operate in a more global healthcare market. Users of these systems are now asking, “what if the system could do this?”


Organizations of all types and sizes are reevaluating the current structure and use of their Electronic Health Record (EHR) and deciding to not just optimize, but also completely re-implement the system. With an eye towards market growth, transformation and innovation, healthcare leaders are initiating a major program effort to re-implement their EHR focusing on leading-practice standardization, leveraged capabilities, cost-efficient support structure, decision-focused analytics and most importantly, the patient experience.

 

There are many reasons healthcare organizations are considering a complete reimplementation of their current system.

 

Function-specific EHR implementation where multiple activities may still be supported by many, disparate and/or non-integrated systems


Rapid installation timeline with minimal use of the potential system capabilities


Continuation of technology “isolation” where decisions are not driven by clinical and operational stakeholders and technology teams are still focused on the singular activities of taking care of their world


An installation that is on an outdated version with a highly customized build and non-standardized workflow components
Need for a foundation to support an organization’s market expansion through acquisitions, connect alternatives or other market growth


Whatever the reason, organizations and their leaders now understand that the initial implementation was not the end. Rather, it was only the first step in creating a technological foundation that supports the organization’s vision and strategy for continued excellence in care, growth, innovation, and viability in the market.

 

The encouraging side to all of this is:

 

You have already gone through an implementation so completing an “EHR reset” requires a similar structure, effort, and rigor, and
You get a “do-over”, or said differently, an EHR reset provides a new chance to transform your organization and establish a foundation for moving forward in the organization’s vision and strategy.
If your organization is considering an EHR reset, Optimum’s team of experts can help. Optimum Healthcare IT has a dedicated Advisory Services solution line that brings years of healthcare clinical, operational, and IT knowledge.

 

Our team brings years of healthcare clinical, operational, and IT knowledge. Using our experience and expertise, we design project plans that turn your goals from vision to reality. Working with your staff, we refine the approach, the methodology, and define the resources needed to execute on time and on budget. We work with you to make sure you are leveraging your technology to increase the safety and quality of care you provide to your patients throughout the continuum of care.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004

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Pediatric EHRs Must be Treated Differently

Pediatric EHRs Must be Treated Differently | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

When it comes to healthcare, there are many different types of facilities and settings. There are acute care hospitals, specialty care hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, ambulatory care centers, surgical centers, outpatient clients, physicians’ offices, rehabilitation centers, pediatric care hospitals, and many more. What all of these different care settings have in common is that they most certainly benefit from some form of electronic health record (EHR) software, each with their own specific needs. What they do not have in common, is the type of patients or type of care they provide. Pediatric patients and healthcare facilities require the right approach to install their Pediatric EHR.

 

An acute care hospital’s primary task is to provide short-term care for people with varying degrees of health issues. These usually stem from injury, disease, or genetics. They are open 24/7/365 and bring together physicians from varied specialties, a skilled nursing staff, technicians, and specialized equipment. Most hospitals offer a wide range of services including emergency room, labor and birth, scheduled surgeries, and lab work. Acute care hospitals utilize standard EHR software where each department has a specific module with tailored functionality to meet their needs.

 

The difference between the standard acute care hospital and pediatric care hospitals is, of course, the patients. Though it may seem obvious, teams in pediatric facilities must recognize that infants, children and those with special needs are not merely small adults and they cannot be treated as such. Caregivers must pay additional attention to how they interact with pediatric patients and their families. Bedside manner, psycho-social considerations, and family dynamics have to be considered during the course of care.  In many respects, the Pediatric EHR must be treated the same.

 

Pediatric facilities have unique requirements that dictate many aspects of their EHR software adoption.  Hardware and device placement have unique needs to facilitate documentation where the patient is – many times patients aren’t located in their bed or assigned room.  Specific attention and adherence to isolation requirements are vital. Also, close attention should be given to screen visibility to include parents or other approved family members engaged in care planning, patient teaching, and patient education.  Consideration is also given to the multi-disciplinary care team engaged with a pediatric patient – case management, social work, therapies, child life services, etc.

 

Hospitalizations are essential for both adults and children. How a healthcare organization chooses to treat them is even more critical. Pediatric organizations require special machines, special tests, special nurses, special doctors, and more importantly SPECIALIZED Pediatric EHR software systems. While the primary objective for healthcare organizations is to provide high-quality patient care, they must also make money.  Reimbursement rates continue to decrease which calls for consistent best practices for both hospitalized adults and child to ultimately reduce the length of stays.  Effective and efficient use of the EHR coupled with the power of the data it provides is crucial to patient satisfaction and improved care.  Additionally, healthcare organizations can save money and improve patient care by partnering with healthcare IT consulting companies who have the knowledge and methodologies to ensure that when an EHR is implemented, no matter the setting or patient type, it will be done correctly.

 

Whether it is a standard acute care hospital or a specialized pediatric hospital, Optimum’s expert resources recognize these needs and facilitate incorporation of the “triangle of care” – meaning patient, family and caregiver/device.  In the majority of our activations, we have provided expert support for pediatric inpatient settings, PICU settings, Leve 2, 3 and 4 NICU’s, Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Room settings while implementing their Pediatric EHR.

 

While preparation is undoubtedly a key ingredient for success, all the planning in the world can yield minimal results if you don’t have the right people in place to execute the plan. In addition to the years of experience Optimum brings to the table, we also specialize in allocating the right resources – the right people – for your project at the right time. Optimum Healthcare IT uses its SkillMarket portal to not only manage your go-live resources, but to optimize resources based on your needs, their skillset, and geo-location.

 

Our commitment to your needs ensures that your implementation will be successful throughout your planning, go-live, stabilization, and optimization. And once you make it through the arduous task of implementing an electronic health record, the challenge then becomes sustaining it and meaningfully using it. Optimum Healthcare IT has the best team in the business.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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Healthcare providers to control all clinical content of the patient record

Healthcare providers to control all clinical content of the patient record | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Turn health data into actionable, cost-saving strategies

oday’s healthcare challenges are no mystery. Hospitals and health systems are navigating the transition to value-based care while continuing to rely on traditional fee-for-service reimbursement models. Uncertainty about the future of health care in the United States is making this shift even more complex as organizations seek a path forward that conquers both known (and unknown) challenges ahead.

 

The standard advice heard across the industry is to “leverage data,” but how does a health system do this? Every healthcare delivery network in the country is rich with data, but how can this resource be applied for each of your care settings, clinicians and provider groups, payers and reimbursement models, and shifting populations?

 

Ensuring high quality patient care and outcomes while balancing financial realities in an evolving market requires a robust data analytics solution—one that can handle the breadth and complexity of health care today without an army of data analysts to make it work.


The 3M Performance Matrix Platform is a data analytics and performance management solution that combines 3M Health Information Systems’ decades of coding and risk-adjustment experience with the data processing power of Verily, an Alphabet company. The platform simultaneously analyzes performance in managing populations throughout your network across all visits, episodes of care and disease cohorts to:

 

  • Automatically identify the root causes of quality issues and excess costs to strengthen performance
  • Prioritize system-wide problem areas using advanced intelligent data processing power
    Work with experienced professionals to drive sustainable behavior change and process improvement

With Verily’s big data computing power, the Performance Matrix platform applies 3M’s risk adjustment methodologies and performance measures to all available data. It then mines this enriched data to identify and prioritize key problem areas. Rather than deploying teams of data analysts, the technology does the work for you.

 

Using Verily’s analytics engine and 3M’s real-world, proven methodologies, the platform helps improve performance by focusing on areas and interdependencies of preventable clinical and financial issues that stem from:

  • Under- and over-utilization of services or care settings
  • Avoidable care, such as readmissions and complications
  • Unnecessary costs
  • Post-acute services

 

3M Performance Matrix analyzes aggregated data against dozens of performance measures to identify and describe the most impactful problem areas. This combination of problem prioritization and analysis helps you focus on what can be fixed, and done differently, going forward. 3M Health Information Systems

Hyland Healthcare’s enterprise imaging

Hyland Healthcare’s suite of enterprise imaging solutions allow healthcare providers to control all clinical image content—including images from specialty departments. When integrated with a clinical imaging system or EHR, clinicians and staff can view medical images in the context of the patient record from within those familiar systems.

 

Eliminating departmental imaging silos improves clinical workflows, strengthens security of protected health information (PHI), enhances disaster recovery, and eases the burden of building and supporting multiple clinical imaging interfaces to the EHR. The following are core components of Hyland Healthcare’s enterprise imaging portfolio.

Acuo VNA

The Acuo Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) provides standards-based enterprise access to medical images regardless of viewing application, offering independence from proprietary archives, and streamlining clinical workflows.

 

The solution leverages technologies to support the management and sharing of medical images across the enterprise and beyond, allowing providers to assemble a comprehensive image-enabled patient record.

 

With on-site, cloud, and hybrid deployment options, Acuo VNA supports business continuity and disaster recovery strategies while providing a platform for clinical content integration, interoperability, and exchange.

NilRead

NilRead, a multi-specialty, zero-footprint enterprise viewer, provides a universal vendor-independent platform for accessing a full range of DICOM and non-DICOM image data. Integrating seamlessly with most EHR, PACS, or VNA, NilRead identifies and ingests images from virtually any departmental archiving solution—whether dermatology JPEGs, data-intensive virtual pathology slides, or radiology DICOM files.

 

This scalable solution is based on a zero footprint, web-based architecture, meaning only a browser is needed to launch the application. There is no software or plug-ins and images never reside on the workstation. NilRead runs on any web-enabled mobile device, tablet, or PC, providing clinicians with constant access to medical images and remarkable tools to enable collaboration across the enterprise.

PACSgear

PACSgear solutions complete the enterprise imaging framework by allowing providers to capture a variety of documents, film, photos, video, and other media and integrate them with any EHR, VNA, or PACS. Hyland Healthcare’s ModLink software uses DICOM Structured Report or HL7 measurement data from ultrasound, DEXA, and CT devices to auto-populate reports in voice recognition systems. Meanwhile, ImageLink worklist solution manages HL7 to DICOM MWL mappings, facilitating Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) workflow for interoperability with existing PACS.

PACSgear connectivity offerings:

PACS Scan, PACS Scan Mobile, PACS Scan Film, PACS Scan Web, EHR Gateway, ModLink, Media Writer, Gear View QC, MDR Video – Touch, ScopeCap, DICOM Box, and Image Link.
Hyland Healthcare

Alliance Community Hospital first MEDITECH customer to deploy CommonWell Services

MEDITECH, an Enterprise Health Record (EHR) vendor and Contributor Member of CommonWell Health Alliance, has deployed CommonWell interoperability services at Alliance Community Hospital (ACH). The capabilities will enable ACH, a non-profit hospital serving the residents of Alliance, OH, to exchange patient information seamlessly for improved patient care and quality outcomes.

 

MEDITECH is the first EHR vendor in CommonWell to deploy the Argonaut Project’s FHIR specifications to customers for the purpose of document exchange, providing near real-time access to a participating patient’s data. Embedded directly into the MEDITECH EHR, these CommonWell services include patient enrollment capabilities and C-CDA exchange, opening the door for more comprehensive sharing of discrete segments of data in the future, such as medication and allergy data.

 

Today, more than 9,300 provider sites are Live on CommonWell services across the nation, and more than 30 million individuals are enrolled..

 

Accelerate and improve patient care anytime, anywhere with secure mobile app AlertView

AlertView, the mobile application developed by Novarad Healthcare Enterprise Imaging, was created to accelerate healthcare by notifying physicians via text message that reports and findings are ready for review.

 

AlertView makes healthcare more efficient by eliminating unnecessary delays in the review of imaging reports. The AlertView app instantly sends a text message to referring physicians, radiologists, or cardiologists alerting them that a report is ready for review. No matter where they are, they can review with one click on the text message, and have this instantly shared with other medical care professionals. This type of mobile communication and collaboration improves patient outcomes while minimizing disruptions for primary care physicians and hospital staff.

 

The app’s features include secure login with TouchID, a dynamic patient list to enable quick searches, extensive filtering including modality and time filters, a convenient basic report view along with an in-depth full report view, display of all key images in the study, and enhanced data security through deep linking

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Become an EHR Super User

Become an EHR Super User | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

When I visit clinics to help them optimize EHR use, there is a clear difference between the super users and other users. While the super users may still have complaints about the system, they are nowhere near as frustrated as the other users. This is because they have invested the time in understanding how to leverage the EHR to significantly speed up their everyday workflow.

 

Most EHRs have built-in "accelerators," tools and shortcuts similar to what you find in Microsoft Word or Excel, for greater efficiency. The problem is most physicians don't bother to learn them because they've either exhausted many systems in their career or there is not ample time in the day to do anything other than "survive" in the clinic. But taking the time to learn to use something you use for hours a day every day pays off, and investing as little as an hour each week learning to better use your EHR has been shown to increase physician satisfaction.

 

Three tips to get you started


1. Make sure you understand and spend some time loading your system's "macros." You want to make checking off boxes or typing a rare, unique action, not a routine one. One rule of thinking is that if you are doing the same thing the third time, you should spend a moment to save it, memorize it, macro it or whatever your system calls it.

 

2. Get a good tool for finding diagnosis codes. I recommend Problem IT Plus. Try it and you'll thank me if you are doing this now without it.


3. Make sure you understand how your system enables team-based care. Allowing everyone to practice at the top of their license and contribute to the delivery of care is crucial. Empower the care team to create notes and use automated tasking and messaging within the EHR whenever possible.


It is an exciting time for healthcare IT: leverage tools such as the EHR and allows them to help you refocus on the business of medicine instead of the business of administration. It takes an extra hour or so a month, but allows you to focus on the three things that matter most: your patients, your practice, and yourself.

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Are Medical Practices Taking Advantage of Cloud-Based EHR?  

Are Medical Practices Taking Advantage of Cloud-Based EHR?   | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In today’s medical field, technology is a big player. With regulations dictating that even independent practices attempt to make the jump to a dedicated EMR/EHR. An EMR/EHR, or electronic medical record/electronic health record interface, provides physicians and patients a way to connect to promote efficient healthcare delivery and organizational profitability. Today, we will look at how smaller healthcare providers are utilizing EMR/EHR solutions that are hosted in the cloud, bucking the trend of hosting their patient information locally.

 

EMR/EHR


For the modern healthcare provider, the EMR/EHR is a major piece of software. The EMR/EHR is an interface that physicians, healthcare providers, and insurers use to update the information on each patient. As the patient has access to their own EMR/EHR file as well, it makes it a very useful guide for all parties involved to manage an individual patient’s care.

 

Major Considerations
With the massive cost of health care, it isn’t much of a stretch to say that there are some very serious considerations that have to be made to the way that doctors and health organizations utilize cloud-hosted technologies. Many providers, however, are reluctant to do just that as there are serious questions about the viability of cloud computing for regulation-covered information such as electronic protected health information (ePHI). One such consideration is the massive incentives offered to organizations who implement “meaningful use” EMR/EHR technology. In order to meet the “meaningful use” criteria, however, many separate variables have to be met, including:

  • Engaging patients in their own care
  • Improving quality, efficiency, safety, and reducing health disparities
  • Improving care coordination
  • Improving public health and health education
  • Meet HIPAA regulations for the privacy of health records

 

So while many of these variables seem to be common sense, there are additional costs that go along with this kind of comprehensive use of EMR/EHR functionality, which, for smaller medical practices, can be enough of an impetus to not meet those qualifications. Cost usually supersedes most other qualifications, even in a high-stakes, results-based business model like healthcare. That means that even though utilizing cloud technology will cut costs, there is no guarantee that a practice will meet the necessary criteria for “meaningful use”.

 

That said, cloud computing has more resources available to maintain data security than ever before, and organizations can still move to an EMR/EHR solution that will benefit their users, and their staff. If you are looking for a solution to help your medical practice cut costs, get dynamic web-based functionality, or get your technology in a position to meet industry regulations, contact the experts

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Fix the EHR!

Fix the EHR! | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

After a blizzard of hype surrounding the electronic health record (EHR), health professionals are now in full backlash mode against this complex new tool. They are rightly seen as a major cause of professional burnout among physicians and nurses: Clinicians are spending almost half their professional time typing, clicking, and checking boxes on electronic records. They can and must be made into useful, easy-to-use tools that liberate, rather than oppress, clinicians.

 

Performing several tasks, badly. The EHR is a lot more than merely an electronic version of the patient’s chart. It has also become the control panel for managing the clinical encounter through clinician order entry. Moreover, through billing and regulatory compliance, it has also become a focal point of quality-improvement efforts. While some of these efforts actually have improved quality and patient safety, many others served merely to “buff up the note” to make the clinician look good on “process” measures, and simply maximize billing.

 

Mashing up all these functions — charting, clinical ordering, billing/compliance and quality improvement — inside the EHR has been a disaster for the clinical user, in large part because the billing/compliance function has dominated. The pressure from angry physician users has produced a medieval solution: Hospital and clinics have hired tens of thousands of scribes literally to follow clinicians around and record their notes and orders into the EHR. Only in health care, it seems, could we find a way to “automate” that ended up adding staff and costs!

 

As bad as the regulatory and documentation requirements are, they are not the largest problem. The electronic system's hospitals have adopted at huge expense are fronted by user interfaces out of the mid-1990s: Windows 95-style screens and drop-down menus, data input by typing and navigation by point and click. These antiquated user interfaces are astonishingly difficult to navigate. Clinical information vital for care decisions is sometimes entombed dozens of clicks beneath the user-facing pages of the patient’s chart.

 

Paint a picture of the patient. For EHRs to become truly useful tools and liberate clinicians from the busywork, a revolution in usability is required. Care of the patient must become the EHR’s central function. At its center should be a portrait of the patient’s medical situation at the moment, including the diagnosis, major clinical risks and trajectory, and the specific problems the clinical team must resolve. This “uber-assessment” should be written in plain English and have a discrete character limit like those imposed by Twitter, forcing clinicians to tighten their assessment.

 

The patient portrait should be updated frequently, such as at a change in clinical shifts. Decision rules determining precisely who has responsibility for painting this portrait will be essential. In the inpatient setting, the main author may be a hospitalist, primary surgeon, or senior resident. In the outpatient setting, it’s likely to be the primary care physician or non-physician provider. While one individual should take the lead, this assessment should be curated collaboratively, a la Wikipedia.

 

This clinical portrait must become the rallying point of the team caring for the patient. To accomplish this, the EHR needs to become “groupware” for the clinical team, enabling continuous communication among team members. The patient portrait should function as the “wall” on which team members add their own observations of changes in the patient’s condition, actions they have taken, and questions they are trying to address. This group effort should convey an accurate picture (portrait plus updates) for new clinicians starting their shifts or joining the team as consultants.

 

The tests, medications or procedures ordered, and test results and monitoring system readings should all be added (automatically) to the patient’s chart. But here, too, a major redesign is needed. In reimagining the patient’s chart, we need to modify today’s importing function, which encourages users indiscriminately to overwhelm the clinical narrative with mountains of extraneous data. The minute-by-minute team comments on the wall should erase within a day or two, like images in SnapChat, and not enter and complicate the permanent record.

 

Typing and point and click must go. Voice and gesture-based interfaces must replace the unsanitary and clunky keyboard and mouse as the method of building and be interacting with the record. Both documenting the clinical encounter and ordering should be done by voice command, confirmed by screen touch. Orders should display both the major risks and cost of the tests or procedures ordered before the order can be confirmed. Several companies, including Google and Microsoft, are already piloting “digital” scribes that convert the core conversation between doctor and patient into a digital clinical note.

 

Moreover, interactive data visualization must replace the time-wasting click storm presently required to unearth patient data. Results of voice searches of the patient’s record should be available for display in the nursing station and the physicians’ ready room. It should also be presentable to patients on interactive whiteboards in patient rooms. Physicians should be able to say things like: “Show me Jeff’s glucose and creatinine values graphed back to the beginning of this hospital stay” or “Show me all of Bob’s abdominal CT scans performed pre- and postoperatively.” The physician should also be able to prescribe by voice command everything from a new medication to a programmed reminder to be delivered to the patient’s iPhone at regular intervals.

 

Population health data and research findings should also be available by voice command. For example, a doctor should be able to say: “Show me all the published data on the side-effect risks associated with use of pembrolizumab in lung cancer patients, ranked from highest to lowest,” or “Show me the prevalence of postoperative complications by type of complication in the past thousand patients who have had knee replacements in our health system, stratified by patient age.”

 

AI must make the clinical system smarter. EHRs already have rudimentary artificial intelligence (AI) systems to help with billing, coding, and regulatory compliance. But the primitive state of AI in EHRs is a major barrier to effective care. Clinical record systems must become a lot smarter if clinical care is to predominate, in particular by reducing needless and duplicative documentation requirements. Revisiting Medicare payment policy, beginning with the absurdly detailed data requirements for Evaluation and Management visits (E&M), would be a great place to start.

 

The patient’s role should also be enhanced by the EHR and associated tools. Patients should be able to enter their history, medications, and family history remotely, reducing demands on the care team and its supporting cast. Patient data should also flow automatically from clinical laboratories, as well as data from instrumentation attached to the patient, directly to the record, without the need for human data entry.

 

Of course, a new clinical workflow will be needed to curate all of this patient-generated data and respond accordingly. It cannot be permitted to clutter the wall or be “mainlined” to the primary clinical team; rather, it must be prioritized according to patient risk/benefit and delivered via a workflow designed expressly for this purpose. AI algorithms must also be used to scrape from the EHR the information needed to assign acuity scores and suggest diagnoses that accurately reflect the patient’s current state.

 

Given how today’s clinical alert systems inundate frontline caregivers, it is unsurprising that most alerts are ignored. It is crucial that the EHR be able to prioritize alerts that address only immediate threats to the patient’s health in real time. Health care can learn a lot from the sensible rigor and discipline of the alert process in the airline cockpit. Clinical alerts should be presented in an easy-to-read, hard-to-ignore color-coded format. Similarly, hard stops — system-driven halts in medication or other therapies — must be intelligent; that is, they must be related to the present reality of the patient’s condition and limited to clinical actions that truly threaten the health or life of the patient.

 

From prisoners to advocates. The failure of EHRs thus far to achieve the goals of improving healthcare productivity, outcomes, and clinician satisfaction is the result both of immature technology and the failure of their architects to fully respect the complexity of converting the massive health care system from one way of doing work to another. Today, one can see a path to turning the EHR into a well-designed and useful partner to clinicians and patients in the care process. To do this, we must use AI, vastly improved data visualization, and modern interface design to improve usability. When this has been accomplished, we believe that clinicians will be converted from surly prisoners of poorly realized technology to advocates of the systems themselves and enthusiastic leaders of efforts to further improve them.

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Electronic Health Records Consulting 

Electronic Health Records Consulting  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

For most health systems, investment in an electronic health record (EHR) is inevitable—and possibly one of the largest expenditures they will make. To achieve the clinical, financial, and operational return on investment, you need to be strategic in your selection, implementation, and utilization.

 

Why the EHR life cycle is just like raising a child 

 

No matter where you are in your journey, our services are designed to produce results that improve efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of health care for patients.

 

Our clinically-experienced IT consultants can support you through the entire EHR lifecycle, including:

 

  • Implementation strategy and planning: We guide clients through everything that goes on behind the scenes before the “go-live,” including a full assessment of current capabilities and workflows to determine what functionalities to look for in an EHR. From there, we lead the selection process for new EHR platforms by vetting qualified vendor options, identifying the initial vendor selection pool, orchestrating product demonstrations, and assisting in the negotiation process.

 

  • Go-live: To increase the usability of the EHR, we give clinicians the ability to learn about and personalize the technology before the go-live date, with items such as common procedures or prescriptions. Once we launch, we provide around-the-clock project management at every level and work to address any challenges that may come up during the process. 

 

  • Optimization: Whether after the “go-live” or as a standalone engagement, we work to develop strategies that optimize the EHR’s capabilities and produce results that drive value and profitability in the healthcare delivery model. We often optimize EHR platforms for:
    • HCC Capture
    • Medicare Annual Wellness Visit
    • Evidence-Based Guidance

 

  • Meaningful use attestation: Attesting meaningful use requires effort from many directions—from navigating regulatory changes to overcoming operational challenges. We take some of these tasks off clients’ plates by tracking federal updates, sending actionable alerts, and validating every aspect of the attestation plan. 

 

  • Life sciences support: To support customers and grow health system partnerships, life sciences firms are leveraging EHR strategies that align with industry trends and consumer priorities. Our experts help these firms determine high-yield, value-add strategy for implementing health IT resources into the EHR. 

 

And while we use these processes to guide our clients through the EHR lifecycle, we also support any IT platform using similar methodologies.

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A prescription for EHRs and patient engagement 

A prescription for EHRs and patient engagement  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Most physician practices and hospitals in the U.S. have installed electronic health records. In a classic Field of Dreams scenario, we have made patients’ medical records digital, but people aren’t asking for them or accessing them en masse.

 

“How do we make it easier for patients to request and manage their own data?” asks a report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT-Improving the Health Records Request Process for Patients – Highlights from User Experience Research.

 

The ONC has been responsible for implementing the HITECH Act’s provisions, ensuring that healthcare providers have met meaningful use criteria for implementing EHRs, and then receiving the financial incentives embedded in the Act for meeting those provisions.

 

Now that the majority of healthcare providers in the U.S. have indeed purchased and implemented EHRs, it remains for patients, health consumers, and caregivers to take advantage of them. In my post on the EHR Field of Dreams effect, I highlighted research from the U.S. General Accountability Office that explored the question of how the Department of Health and Human Services should assess the effectiveness of efforts to enhance patient access to EHRs.

 

The ONC team conducted in-depth interviews with 17 patients to understand their health IT personae and personal workflows for accessing their personal medical records. The research also considered medical record release forms and information for 50 large U.S. health systems and hospitals, and interviewed “insiders” – healthcare stakeholders inside and outside of ONC – to assess how patients request access to medical records data and look for solutions to improve that process.

 

Why is it so important for people to access their medical records? By doing so, patients and caregivers can better manage and control their health and well-being, ONC notes, by preventing repeat tests, managing clinical numbers (like blood pressure for heart or glucose for diabetes), and sharing decision-making with doctors and other clinicians – together, the process of patient and health engagement, which boosts health outcomes for individuals and populations.

 

The general process of a patient requesting their health data works like this, illustrated by the patient journey of Melissa and Ava Crawford, a mother and toddler daughter portrayed in the ONC report:

  • A patient/consumer makes an initial inquiry
  • The consumer requests the records, which can be done via a paper authorization form (that is then completed and either mailed or faxed to a provider) or sent online via the portal. Sometimes a consumer must write a letter to request the provider.
  • The consumer waits for a response, which ONC calls “a bit of a black hole for consumers.” This can be as long as 30 days under the HIPAA law.
  • The health system receives and verifies the request, then verifies the patient identify and address.
  • Health systems then fulfill the records request, often a printed copy of the medical record that can be faxed or mailed, PDF files, or a computer disk – CD.

 

ONC conducted research into the consumer journey through this process to identify opportunities to improve the patient experience of requesting and receiving personal health information.

 

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Most Americans see their doctors entering medical information electronically, and most people say accessing all kinds of medical information is important, the Kaiser Family Foundation learned in a health tracking poll conducted in August 2016. However, there are big gaps in the information available to U.S. patients online, such as prescription drug histories and lab results – two very popularly demanded information categories. And through the consumer-patient demand lens, 1 in 2 U.S. adults said they had no need to access their health information online, as the chart from the KFF poll attests.

 

How to bridge the chasm between self-health IT, providers, and patients? The most effective patient engagement technologies are biometric measurement devices like WiFi scales and glucometers, apps, texting, and wearables – with portals ranking last – according to physicians and clinical leaders polled in a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) survey published earlier this month.

 

The top benefit of engaging patients with these technologies is to support people in their efforts to be healthy and to provide input to providers on how patients are doing when not in the clinic, this research found.

 

My friend and collaborator Michael Millenson wrote in the BMJ in July about patient-centered care no longer being “enough.” In this era of technology-enabled healthcare, and rising consumerism among patients, three core principles must underpin the relationship between patient and provider:

  • Shared information
  • Shared engagement
  • Shared accountability.

 

Michael quotes Jay Katz from his book, The Silent World of Doctor and Patient, who talked 35 years ago about the concept of “caring custody.” Jay explained this as, “the idea of physicians’ Aesculapian authority over patients'” being replaced with “mutual trust.”

 

It is not enough to build and offer a technology “meant” for patients and people to use for their health and healthcare. Trust underpins all health engagement and must be designed and “baked” into the offering. Today, that trust is built as much on consumer retail experience (the last-best experience someone has had in their daily life, exemplified at this moment by Amazon) as in a new social health contract between providers and patients.

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The EHR and Rage Against the Machine

The EHR and Rage Against the Machine | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The EHR is the latest focus of our rage against the machine. Case in point: Chrissy Farr’s poke at the EHR in today’s Fast Company. Red meat for angry old doctors.

 

What might be interesting is to take a bunch of millennial doctors and make them work for a month with clipboards, fax machines, mailed letters and emulsion films on view boxes? Then we could write a story about the joy and efficiency of manilla folder medicine.

 

I suspect it would put things in perspective.

We fancy ourselves as victims of our technology. But while EHRs have a long way to go, it’s a long way back to paper.

 

I was in an elevator at Texas Children’s Hospital this weekend where there were a number of people looking at their smartphones.  An older gentleman in the elevator remarked shaking his head, “I remember a time when people used to talk.”

 

Actually, no one talked in elevators.  We’ve always stood the same direction and stared at the numbers at the top of the door.

 

It’s easy to blame technology on our human shortcomings.  It’s been suggested that the adoption of EHR has us ignoring patients.  But in the old days, we scribbled on paper.  Irresponsible resident and medical student conduct with social media are blamed on the platform.  But trainees have always done and said stupid things.

Blame it our chauvinistic human bias:  “It’s not me, it’s the machine.”

 

While there are those of us who share a perverse relationship with our tools, it’s important to remember that the world wasn’t necessarily rainbows and unicorns before [insert technology of choice] appeared.

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EHR and Challenges of the Modern Medical Note

EHR and Challenges of the Modern Medical Note | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

There was a time when documentation was an almost inconsequential process. After seeing a patient, the doctor would scratch a note, close the folder, and file it on a shelf until the next visit.

 

Things are different and the medical note has evolved. As it’s evolved, electronic health records (EHR) have brought efficiencies to the medical note while introducing new challenges. And like the cognitive biases that impact patient care, the problems inherent in documentation need attention.

 

Thinking about these challenges becomes important in documenting care and training the next generation of health professionals. Here are a few that I think about

Auto Documentation

One of the powers of the EHR is that it allows users to auto-populate the medical record with chunks of pre-fabricated text known as smart phrases. But these personally created building blocks of the medical note create the potential for one-clip-fits-all documentation. As I’ve said in the past, the smart phrase is not new technology.

 

I work to keep smart phrases out of my history of present illness and impression where individualized narratives show what’s unique about a case. Free text keeps me real.

Replicability

While smart phrases represent the dropping of self-created language, we have the ability to clip and paste information from other parts of the chart. This may include bits and pieces from notes penned by another medical professional.

 

While we all lift bits of language from places like CT and biopsy reports, issues arise when the origination of our language is that of another health professional. Epic now allows visualization of a phrase’s origin when not created by the author.

 

I’m careful about what I copy. I’m twice as careful with what I paste as a representation of my own thinking.

Size and absence of constraint

While smart phrases are limited only by our imagination, a digital note with no constraints predisposes to note bloat, one of the looming threats to modern medicine. Pre-digital notes were constrained by writer’s cramp.

 

I’ve laboured through notes where every single lab drawn on a complicated patient is dumped into the note. Pages and pages of marginally abnormal CBC and metabolic panels create a scenario where it’s difficult, if not impossible, to discern what data is relevant to the decisions made.

 

I try to consider the needs of the end user of the note. Of course, this is challenging when our opinion of what constitutes a ‘good note’ varies from that of the note read.

Ambiguity of purpose

This is the most remarkable phenomenon of the modern medical note. Medical notes have traditionally had pet purposes. Medical students learn early on that ‘the right way to write a note’ varies not only by speciality but by the whim of the individual physician responsible for the note. Physicians with firm views regarding what constitutes the purpose of a note may even morph their perspective depending upon the nature of an individual case.

So if you ask 3 physicians the purpose of a medical note and you’ll get 5 answers ranging from billing and quality documentation to legal coverage and professional communication. Over time the medical note has morphed into all of these things at once.

 

The problem with an ambiguity of purpose is how to manage the expectations of the end user. A physician who feels compelled to paste three months worth of blood results into the data portion of a note will be at odds with someone like myself who believes that a note serves to offer nothing other than concise support for what I’m thinking and planning.

 

As notes become more visible to more folks we can expect ambiguity of purpose to become more pronounced. Digital notes and their capacity for customization amplify this divergence of purpose.

Scaling visibility of the EHR

Once restricted to the shelves of offices in big buildings, medical documentation has traditionally been siloed. This was fine because notes existed for the doctors who occupied those individual offices.  The medical note is now enjoying new freedom in its electronic shape. More notes are more visible to more professionals. This is evident within consolidated health systems where networks of offices connect to big hospitals.

 

Beyond professionals, patients are watching and, in some cases, editing their own notes. OpenNotes is a related program based in Boston’s Beth Israel hospital. Regular patient review and revision represent a revolutionary move in medical documentation.

This scaling visibility of the modern note brings greater scrutiny for what we do or don’t do.

 

This idea of the medical note and its evolution gets little attention yet it represents the core medium of all documentation by medical professionals. It deserves more thorough attention and study.

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EHRs and the Problem of Efficiency

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Four things I do to fight the downside of efficiency:

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

 

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

 

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

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Don't Overlook EHR Communication

Don't Overlook EHR Communication | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Through all of the planning and preparation that goes into an Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation, EHR communication is often overlooked and undervalued. With everyone focused on delivering the system, building applications, testing hardware and validating workflows, end user preparedness, outside of training, can be overlooked.

 

Sure, they’re going to be trained on the system, but it’s important to remain engaged with end users in the months and weeks leading to go-live, but also beyond go-live. In many aspects, post-live communication is more vital to day-to-day operations throughout the organization.

 

In this post, we’ll discuss the primary types of communication that must be considered, carefully planned for and thoughtfully executed to serve end users best as they prepare for and live in the new world of the EHR.

 

Types of EHR Communication

 

Internal Marketing, pre- go-live
Transitioning to an EHR is daunting for everyone. It’s exciting and new, but it is scary. It’s a daunting task for leadership and project teams, but for end users, this new technology will completely disrupt their professional lives – especially those that have never used the technology.


The merits of the new system, how it will help them in the long run, and how it will benefit patients must all be sold to end users who, in most cases, have always worked a certain way – without technology. The system must be sold to them because there will be resistance, some kicking and screaming, all the way through go-live.


Change Communications
Don’t listen to anyone that tells you that you’ll be able to relax once the system goes live. If anything, the importance of clear, concise communication escalates exponentially after go-live.


Technology, by its nature, evolves. And electronic health records are not exempt. One of the primary features of the technological age we live in is that the systems we use can, and will, be updated.
When changes are made to the system, there must be a coordinated Change Management procedure featuring robust communication to all impacted employees.


System Updates/Downtime Messaging
EHR’s and the infrastructure they run on are fallible. No matter how well the system is designed and built, there will be issues and downtimes that negatively impact end users, and if not planned for accordingly, patients.


System Update (SU) and Downtime procedures must be carefully developed and communicated throughout the organization to ensure that employees know the protocols that are in place in the event of a system outage.


Additionally, communications processes and protocols must be installed throughout the organization to ensure that vital information can be delivered to end users crisis situations – and that end users can communicate what’s happening on the ground with leadership and IT.


Ultimately the goal here is to ensure that clinicians can continue to care for their patients in the event of a system outage and proper communication is key.


Targeted Messaging
This comes down to a simple realization – clinicians are extremely busy people that don’t have time to wade through waves of content to find what pertains to them.
Messaging designed with a specific user group in mind that includes a concise, actionable message works best. Think providers or nurses.


This audience also benefits from a well-known or trusted sender. They don’t pay attention to mass emails from generic inboxes. Their bosses, Chief Medical Officers, Chief Nursing Officers, or a department head usually garner the most respect, and the most attention, in clinical circles.


Patient Communication
This change is disruptive for patients as well, especially during go-live. Taking the time to thoughtfully communicate the change to patients will help ease the transition for them as well.
They’ll have questions. Why is my doctor on that computer so much? Is my medical information online? Is it secure?
Without going into the minutia around the EHR, device integration, real-time data, secure servers, firewalls, data centers, etc. – take the time to explain the change to patients, at least at a high level. They will appreciate it.


myChart & Meaningful Use
On the surface, Meaningful Use and MyChart communication don’t immediately come to mind when thinking of the EHR communications plan. They should, though. Soon after go-live, the focus shifts to stabilization and optimization, which includes myChart and Meaningful Use.


While they’re paired together here because they’re add-ons that don’t necessarily fall under the initial communications scope, these two are very different and need their own comprehensive communications plans and delivery methods as the content, audience, and implications are drastically different.


While not explicitly responsible for building or activating the EHR system that will revolutionize your organization, it’s important to have a person or team dedicated to communicating with your end users – at all stages of the system’s life cycle. Uninformed end users are disgruntled end users, and it pays to have communications people that have experience with IT and EHR delivery as it is a world unto itself.

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Workflow Analysis, Ease of Use & Best Practices

Workflow Analysis, Ease of Use & Best Practices | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

As a healthcare organization, innovation and change can be a challenge. And while many changes are forced, either by government mandate, financial incentive, or patient care necessity, each organization must make a series of decisions that will dictate their technological, financial and cultural future. Though the EHR journey, from selection and implementation to maintenance and upgrades, is not easy. It is necessary. In this series, we reached out to Terri Couts, VP of Epic Application Programs at Guthrie Clinic, for her thoughts on the end-to-end EHR journey.

 

Workflow Analysis, Ease of Use & Best Practices
A major part of any EHR installation is workflow analysis. Every organization practices, functions, and cares for patients a little differently largely due to training, culture, and patient demographics that they serve. Knowing all of this, there is still an unrealistic expectation that healthcare technology is plug-and-play. Being trapped in this misconception can lead to end-user frustration, delays in care for patients, delayed revenue or revenue loss, and an overall mistrust of the product and the IT implementation team.

 

Workflow analysis should start the day you sign your vendor contract. Of course, during the implementation, each vendor will have suggested workflows but most only consider the technological use of their product. They do not address any policies or procedures established by your institution. They do not include any State or local regulatory requirements that your organization is bound to. Finally, they do not consider the culture of your organization including the providers’ independence of practice. When I state providers’ independence of practice, I am not suggesting that standard tools and workflows should not be implemented and encouraged. What I am suggesting is that identifying workflows at your organization and having the tools to support those workflows is the first step to a successful go live and sustainability.

 

To accurately collect and document workflows, your IT team will need to heavily engage the subject matter experts. These include registration staff, transporters, nursing, physicians, surgeons, back office staff, medical records, pharmacists, radiologists, and the list goes on. Once the analyst understands how each of the users practice within the organization, they can start to configure the technology to support the workflow.

 

Technology should never define the workflow. But it should support and enhance the work, drive patient outcomes, and increase patient safety.


While performing workflow analysis, ease of use and best practices should always be considered. Most electronic health record (EHR) early adopters implemented their systems with the driving desire to fill the Meaningful Use agenda to ultimately receive incentives and avoiding penalties. Thankfully, those days are behind us and there have been many lessons learned. Physician burnout is one effect stated to be caused by EHR requirements and we have all heard the complaint about “too many clicks”. The role of the provider should not be defined by the number of clicks in the EHR. Be careful to design technology for ease of use, clean and intuitive workspaces, and to not take away from the patient experience.

 

In my opinion, users should not only be involved in the definition of the workflows and design of the product, but also the testing of the design. Usability testing is just as important as the initial workflow analysis. This gives us the chance to identify gaps in the design and user adoption before implementation.

 

The product and documentation that comes from the workflow analysis should also serve as the foundation of training for the system. I have found that EHR training cannot just be about the technical aspects of the system. It should also include relevant scenario-based training to include policies, and procedures held at the organization. End users want to know how this affects them personally. They also need to know the effect of not completing or performing a particular workflow. For example, if the system is built to drop a high dollar charge only if a particular box is clicked, how would the clinician know the downstream impact of revenue loss if they are not educated on the entire workflow. Finally, build the scenario training to include scenarios that the providers can relate to. If something does not seem realistic to a provider, he or she will be lost in that concept and not focused on learning the system.

 

The EHR journey can span years and effectively dictates, at least in part, the healthcare organization’s path and culture. This series examines the experiences of healthcare leaders that have been through it. Whether you’re selecting an EHR for the first time or replacing an existing system, the EHR journey is a daunting one. These lessons learned could be priceless to you and your organization.

 

Check back soon as the next post in this series will cover change management and governance and their importance throughout your EHR Journey.

 

Make sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest thought leadership in healthcare IT delivered directly to your inbox. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to join the conversation. Check back for our next Center Stage feature in the coming weeks.

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Epic Launches Sonnet with Rhyme and Reason

Epic Launches Sonnet with Rhyme and Reason | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The long-anticipated launch of Epic’s new scaled-down Electronic Health Record (EHR), known as Sonnet, took place in March at HIMSS18 with tremendous excitement. Sonnet is intended for smaller to mid-sized hospitals, critical access hospitals, post-acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, and physician practices, who either do not require all of the functionality of a full version EHR or don’t have the budget or the resources needed to implement the full version of Epic. Through the use of Sonnet, these smaller systems will have access to a scaled-down version of Epic which falls at a more competitive price point and with a significantly quicker implementation timeline.  “It’s still the same Epic, it has a fully integrated inpatient-outpatient, rev cycle, and patient portal,” Adam Whitlatch, Epic’s research and development team lead, told Healthcare Dive in February. Additionally, Sonnet will allow smaller hospitals a clear and attainable add-on/upgrade path with the ability to adopt different features of Epic as they expand.

 

It’s an exciting move for Epic on the heels of Epic CEO Judy Faulkner’s call for a shift in collective thought when she announced she would now refer to the EHR as CHR.  To Judy, and I believe many of us, the letter change represents the bigger picture. “Healthcare is now focusing on keeping people well rather than reacting to illness. We are now focusing on factors outside the traditional walls,” Faulkner told Healthcare IT News.  In the future, the CHR will include more types of data, such as social determinants, sleeping patterns, diet, access to fresh foods, exercise, and whether they are lonely or depressed because all of those factors can have an enormous impact on an individual’s health.

 

Epic continues to increase its footprint with the addition of Sonnet; aiming to capture a market segment which KLAS research identified in 2016 as the most significant buyers of EHRs in the U.S. accounting for nearly 80% of all sales. This portion of the market has historically been dominated by Athena Health, e-Clinical works, NextGen and the like.

 

It will be interesting to watch how Sonnet is received in the market and if Epic can successfully move into the community hospital space. It can be argued that Epic is the undisputed leader in the healthcare IT market with Cerner a close second as it pertains to healthcare organizations over 300 beds. The ultimate question is if a scaled-down Epic EHR can garner the same level of success in this space? If Epic can balance the functionality needs to support the complexity of healthcare, while maintaining a light-version of Epic that is easy to maintain and satisfactory to providers, then they will be successful.

 

Still, with an implementation of this size, there is a lot of complexity. As with all implementations, it is vital to have a structured plan in place that includes how to most efficiently manage the retirement of legacy systems, an effective communication and change management strategy, resource allocation, and the proper training of your current staff. Getting it right the first time is the differentiator of a successful install.  Engaging with the right advisory partner can be the key to managing costs. The right partner can aide in making decisions regarding how to best approach an installation from a best practices/”lessons learned” perspective. Often, a new install is the largest investment many hospitals of this size will make in a fiscal year. Doing it right can have great reward, but missing the mark, can have costly implications.

 

As a community hospital, if the implementation of your EHR isn’t correct, the future care of your patients and the financial stability of your organization could be in jeopardy. Optimum Healthcare IT has the people, the expertise, and the experience to ensure that your EHR is implemented correctly and smoothly.

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Sharing What You Know for EHR Consultants

Sharing What You Know for EHR Consultants | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

In the world of Healthcare IT consulting, it is important to share what you know. HIT Consultants work long hours to get the job not only done but won.  They know how to put their thinking to work.  These rock stars stay focused longer than others to push the success needle forward for their clients.  But, before their work is done, there is one more win that can add tremendous value – knowledge sharing.  It’s the next best step that can lift the lid of consulting services to higher levels.  Here’s how.

 

Four questions that EHR Consultants can ask themselves:

 

What do I know?
There are a plethora of skills that consultants bring to the table that range from core functional skills to having a good knack for people, talent development, and team building.  A general thought among consultants is that their knowledge is common knowledge.  Everybody knows this, right?  Think again. What’s common to them may not be so common to their peers or their clients.  Plus, their experience and knowledge may have paved a different road from other consultants so knowledge sharing is a definite gain.

 

Who can benefit from my knowledge?
Without question, consultants add value to the clients by knowledge sharing.  They can also add value to their peers by passing on their proven record of how to’s, quick wins, best practice solutions and lessons learned.  Their peers can share their added value with their clients.

 

What do I need to know?
It’s always a good rule of thumb to place ourselves between teaching and learning.  And even the most knowledgeable consultant can benefit from learning. In addition to sharing your knowledge, ask your peers what they have learned.  A proactive approach to knowledge sharing will ensure success for everyone.

 

Who do I need to know?
Get to know peer consultants who know more and whose experience has exceeded yours.  It’s great to be able to have this person handy for quick huddles to field any questions you have.

Creating intentional opportunities for high performers to collaborate is a big deal.  It gives consultants with all levels of skills and experiences a forum and space to both learn and share the sharpest innovative tools in the market with their clients.  Everybody wins.

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Medical Billing and Coding Trends for 2018

Medical Billing and Coding Trends for 2018 | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

According to the New York Times, disease-classification systems originated in 17th-century London to help doctors prevent the bubonic plague from spreading to populations that didn’t speak English.

 

French physician and statistician Jacques Bertillon (the 1890s) introduced the first medical coding system when he developed the Bertillon Classification of Causes of Death. In the 20th century, the codes encompassed not only causes of death but also the incidence of diseases.

 

These days, medical coding translates the content of a patient’s health records into a universal standard medical code so it can be billed properly. Let’s take a closer look at the landscape to see how things stand, and identify the medical billing and coding trends you should look for in 2018.

 

The medical billing and coding landscape

 

Between 2015 and 2020, Deloitte predicts worldwide spending on health care will increase anywhere from 2.4 to 7.5%. Despite this extra spending, many healthcare delivery organizations are facing increased operational costs, which are eating into their returns.

 

One source of increased operational costs is the ever-expanding complexity of medical billing. The same Times piece cites in-office earwax removal and vaccinations as examples; there exist unique codes for the method used as well as each injection. On top of that, not every payer uses the same coding system.

 

Administrative costs account for a full quarter of U.S. hospital spending; for comparison, those costs sit at 16% and 12% in England and Canada, respectively.

 

While medical billing and coding are ever-changing, there is the general movement toward efficiency. Here are three medical billing and coding trends you should be watching in the coming year; they’ll only get more important as 2018 gets underway

.

Three trends to look for in 2018

 

1. Computer Assisted Coding (CAC)

 

  • Uses natural language processing (NLP) to read and interpret text-based clinical documentation from patient charts.
  • Identifies potentially relevant ICD-10-CM diagnoses, ICD-10-PCS and CPT procedures, and present on admission (POA) indicators to provide suggested codes and corresponding documentation for coders or CDI specialists to review and approve.

 

CAC software is proliferating, particularly for coding inpatient claims. According to a report available through Research and Markets, the global market for computer-assisted coding software is projected to reach $4.75 billion by 2022.

 

According to CareCloud, coding specialists are afraid that the CAC built into EHRs could replace their jobs within a decade. This concern, however, is likely overblown. CAC is a huge help to human coders. According to one study, CAC increased coder productivity by over 20% and reduced coding time by 22% relative to their peers who didn’t use CAC, all without reducing accuracy.

 

2. EHR alignment


Poor record keeping—from not capturing the chart data you need to code correctly to capturing the data but making it hard for a coder to find later—can lead to a variety of problems for reimbursement. Already, most providers spend too much time searching for the right diagnostic codes for their patients rather than looking at and listening to them.

 

If your EHR and medical billing software are integrated, especially if your medical billing offers CAC, the process can go much faster. For example, your software can offer coding suggestions at the point of documentation, making codes more accurate from the get-go.

 

When your EHR has integrated CAC, it can automatically populate patient demographic data into a bill instead of wasting time by requiring staff to re-enter it and introducing the opportunity for errors. Fewer errors increase your first-pass claim acceptance rate, can improve data abstraction, and offer more robust reporting than standalone EHR and billing and coding software.

 

This reporting can include a robust set of financial data, such as units billed per visit, days sales outstanding (DSO) to accounts receivable, net revenue per visit (NRV), staff productivity, referral numbers, appointment cancels, and no-shows.

 

3. Blockchain
In 2016 ONC called for white papers on how the blockchain can improve healthcare. Researchers submitted more than 70 papers, and ONC awarded 15 papers covering everything from precision medicine clinical trials and research to a decentralized blockchain-based record management prototype for EHRs.

 

“Blockchain is booming in clinical trials right now; it is a big favorite of the pharmaceutical sector,” Maria Palombini, director of emerging communities and initiatives development at the IEEE Standards Association, said. Palombini predicts that blockchain has an especially intriguing promise in EHRs.

 

In early 2017. EHR Intelligence’s Kate Monica wrote: “Blockchain is becoming increasingly common as a way to improve the standardization and security of health data.”

 

In September, HealthcareITNews published “Why blockchain could transform the very nature of EHRs.” And Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana, described blockchain as the next big healthcare technology innovation.

 

There are three primary reasons EHRs should consider adopting blockchain data storage:

 

  • It can offer better privacy protections
  • It can make information exchange easier and more efficient
  • It can increase patient control over their data

 

With blockchain, it could be as simple as a patient giving their doctor a token to access their records. “Using blockchain technology to reconfigure EHRs makes sense,” Elizabeth G. Litten, partner and HIPAA privacy and security officer at Fox Rothschild, recently wrote.

 

Dave Watson, a chief operating officer at SSI Group (an RCM and analytics company), sees tremendous potential for the blockchain to improve revenue cycle management and claims processing.

 

By recording tests, results, medical billing, and payments in an immutable ledger, the blockchain could reduce fraud and even save money by decreasing the time and labor currently used to track that information through various systems.

 

On Medium, strategy, design, and development consultancy Sidebench wrote that the three areas where the blockchain could impact healthcare with the clearest path forward to providing significant ROI through cost savings are developing better health exchanges, protecting patients and practitioners through supply chain accountability, and reducing fraud in billing and claims.

 

Palombini’s “Holy Grail” is when patients own and control their own complete health histories, from the hospital, stays to outpatient visits to data from wearables. A blockchain is a tool that could help get us there. But it’s not the only way.

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Smaller Practices are Choosing Cloud-Based EHR 

Smaller Practices are Choosing Cloud-Based EHR  | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

The medical field has spawned all kinds of new technology that takes patient care to the next level. Regulations demand that even smaller practices need to make the jump to electronic medical record systems (also known as electronic health records). These EMR/EHR solutions provide an interface that gives providers and patients a way to keep themselves connected to each other--a tool to promote a more efficient delivery method for these services. We’ll take a look at these EMR and EHR solutions that are hosted in the cloud, giving your organization more information to make an educated choice on implementing this software.

 

EMR/EHR


EMR/EHR is a critical piece of software for any modern healthcare provider. EMR/EHR is an interface that gives physicians, healthcare providers, and insurers access to updated information about their patients, all at a glance. Since the patient has access to their own file, it can help to promote transparency and collaboration between healthcare providers and patients to improve the quality of their care.

 

Major Considerations


Healthcare is expensive for both patients and providers, which should prompt them to consider a cloud-hosted solution as a viable strategy to minimize costs associated with this industry. Unfortunately, many providers are somewhat reluctant to implement cloud-hosted solutions, even in the face of regulatory compliance laws. There are many serious questions that need to be considered by any organization hoping to take advantage of electronic records--particularly those who store electronic protected health information (ePHI). One of the many considerations any practice needs to consider is the incredible incentive offered to businesses that implement “meaningful use” EMR/EHR technology. To qualify as “meaningful use,” the following variables need to be met:

 

  • Engaging patients in their own care
  • Improving quality, efficiency, safety, and reducing health disparities
  • Improving care coordination
  • Improving public health and health education
  • Meet HIPAA regulations for the privacy of health records


Some of these might seem like common sense, but the costs associated with meeting all of these requirements might be used as an excuse to not invest in these qualifications. Cost is one of the most important factors to consider, and in a high-risk market like healthcare, industry providers generally don’t want to spend more than they have to. The end result is that an organization might utilize cloud-based technology to cut their costs, but there is no guarantee that they will be able to sustain “meaningful use” as it’s defined above.

 

With that said, cloud computing has really come into its own over the past few years, providing even more great services (including security) than ever before--services that EMR/EHR can really benefit from. If you want to implement a solution that can help your medical practice reduce costs and improve functionality, or if you just want to meet the changes in industry regulations, look no further. SouthBridge Consulting can help your business implement high-quality technology solutions designed to increase profits and efficiency. To learn more, reach out to us at (281) 816-6430.

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EHR Market Needs Competition & Innovation

EHR Market Needs Competition & Innovation | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

I spend a fair amount of my days engaged in conversations with family physicians and policymakers on how to improve our nation's health care system. These conversations and the feedback they generate are the engines that drive the AAFP's advocacy. There are dozens of pertinent issues impacting family physicians and their patients, but there are two themes that emerge in every conversation. The first is the disdain family physicians, really all physicians, have for electronic health records. The second is how the EHR industry, to date, has failed in its core mission.

 

On Jan. 20, 2004, President Bush made the following statement as part of his State of the Union Address: "By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care."

 

On April 26, 2004, the Bush Administration formally launched the Promoting Innovation and Competitiveness campaign(georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov), which was aimed at accomplishing the goals outlined in his SOTU address. The campaign made several observations and had several goals, but I would like to highlight three:

 

A patient's vital medical information is scattered across medical records kept by many different caregivers in many different locations – and all of the patient's medical information is often unavailable at the time of care.


Innovations in electronic health records and the secure exchange of medical information will help transform health care in America -- improving health care quality, preventing medical errors, reducing health care costs, improving administrative efficiencies, reducing paperwork, and increasing access to affordable health care.
Within the next 10 years, electronic health records will ensure that complete healthcare information is available for most Americans at the time and place of care, no matter where it originates.
Within the next 10 years?

 

Guess what? Time's up, and none of this happened. It is reasonably safe to say that in the 14 years since President Bush issued his call to action, the promise of EHRs has failed epically to meet the expectations outlined in the SOTU speech -- avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs and improve care. Some would argue that we have digressed in each of these areas.

 

I struggle to find an articulate and elegant way to describe what is so frustrating about electronic health records, but I think I have found a way to do so succinctly -- they suck. They suck as products, and they suck the life out of everyone that uses them.

 

Ponder this, since President Bush issued his 2004 challenge, the following innovations hit the market -- Facebook (2004), Reddit (2005), Twitter (2006), iPhone (2007), Airbnb (2008), Thumbtack (2008), Rent the Runway (2009), Uber (2009), Instagram (2010), Pinterest (2010), Snapchat (2011), Alexa (2014), Bumble (2014), and dozens of others targeted at specific industries or activities. Each of these platforms changed an industry or changed the way we communicate and share information with each other. They have made positive contributions to our economy and our lives.

 

It is a shame that the efficiencies realized from these platforms have not translated to health care via EHRs. Instead of streamlining the healthcare industry, EHRs have created a plethora of cottage industries and consultants; required physicians to incorporate "workaround;" and, most sadly, the EHR has contributed significantly to the onset of an actual epidemic -- physician burnout.

 

A few weeks ago, I was in San Francisco and had the opportunity to meet Andrew Hines(canvasmedical.com), an engineer who has spent his professional career working in and around the technology industry, including work for a major EHR company. During our conversation, he said something that really stuck with me, both for the boldness of the statement and the fact that, deep down, I think we all know it may be true. He said, "I used to think we could improve the electronic health record from within, but now I realize the only way to truly improve electronic health records is to start over."

 

A Harvard professor known for his work in disruptive innovation, describes this as sustaining versus disruptive innovation. Incumbents focus on incremental improvements in their products whereas new entrants succeed with disruptive innovations. The problem with healthcare and EHRs specifically, is that incumbents have all the market power.

 

Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the AAFP Alliance for eHealth Innovation, summed it up as follows: "The reason EHRs suck is not due to a lack of innovation in technology but rather in a lack of innovation in health care. It seems that the health care industrial-complex, unlike other industries, is insulated from such innovative challenges from new players."

 

Waldren summarized his thoughts in a simple statement, "Without competition, we will not see the technology innovations in health care we have seen in other industries."

 

There are no easy solutions in health care, and improving EHRs is no different. However, we desperately need innovation and meaningful competition in the health information technology and EHR space. The following are three objectives the AAFP is pursuing to increase competition and spur innovation:

 

Make it easier for new companies to enter the health IT marketplace -- The AAFP continues to work on expanding interoperability to allow appropriate access to data stored in EHRs, in a timely manner. The AAFP is aggressively advocating for policies that force EHR vendors and other health IT products to be interoperable based on a defined set of standards. We also believe that all data in the EHR should be available for use by third-party vendors, of course with appropriate privacy.


Make it easier for innovators to design smarter health IT products -- One of the differences between health care and the general IT space is the complexity and fuzziness of the semantics of clinical data. The AAFP is committed to working with others to model clinical data in standard ways that allow developers to make health IT systems that can reason about clinical data and therefore help automate tasks physicians must perform.
Eliminate or reduce administrative requirements placed on health IT products -- The poor usability of EHRs is often due to external requirements established by regulators and payers, such as clinical documentation, which does not add clinical value. The AAFP is actively promoting policies that eliminate or, narrow, those requirements. We believe a reduction in administrative burden will help physicians, and also allow health IT developers to focus on features and functions that add clinical value.
Closing Thought


As you can tell, I am frustrated with the performance of current EHRs and the negative impact they are having on our health care system and each of you personally. The dominant companies in the market have produced products that have largely failed at the core goals established in the early 2000s. As I have noted, technology in every other industry tends to result in rapid improvements to function and efficiencies. Health care simply hasn't seen the same improvements, and the companies that make these products have seen windfalls in the billions, yet their products continue to underperform and fail to meet expectations of patients, physicians, and policymakers.

 

I remain a strong supporter of the broad use of EHRs in our health care system. The EHR still stands to improve the aggregation and distribution of medical information, which would improve our health care system. Without a doubt, the ability to access and transmit medical information among care sites and physicians would improve care and result in efficiencies for patients and the system overall.

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From EHR to Paper to EHR .. to Paper??

From EHR to Paper to EHR .. to Paper?? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

I can’t help myself from telling patients how things really work in health care. But I feel they have a right to know.

When I see new patients their jaw usually drops when I sit down with them next to the computer with a stack of papers held together with a rubber band or a gigantic clamp and with yellow sticky notes protruding here and there with words like a LAB, ER, and X-RAY.

 

Patients always assume that medical records transfer seamlessly between practices. They don’t, even between clinics that use the same EMR vendor. The stack of papers gets scanned in, as images or PDFs, but they don’t appear in the searchable, tabular or report-compatible form. Often, they don’t each get labeled, but are clumped together under headings like “Radiology 2010-2017”.

 

In one of the clinics I work in, a Registered Nurse enters patients’ medical history in the EMR before each new patient’s first appointment. In the other, it is my job. In both cases, only a fraction of he information is usually carried over from one EMR to the other, and the patient’s life story risks getting diluted, even distorted.

 

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why things work this way:

 

Once upon a time, the Rulers of a great country handed out money to all the medicine men so they could start using computers to document what they did (and what they charged for, which was the real reason the Rulers handed out money the way they did).

 

This was a gift, not only to the medicine men but also to a lot of computer companies, who quickly geared up and made EMRs that the medicine men needed to buy before the deadline the Rulers had imposed.

 

Soon the medicine men gave all their newfound money to the computer makers. One of the things they thought they remembered hearing about was “interoperability”, but the computer makers were no fools. By making it just about impossible to transfer data between EMRs, the computer companies figured they could keep their respective customer's hostage because no matter how much they hated the slapped-together systems, it would be too costly to start over with another system.

 

Eventually, each vendor secretly hoped they would end up with the most users and thereby becoming the industry standard when the medicine men and the Rulers caught on to the lack of interoperability.

 

That, I explain to those of my patients who were around for it, is like the early days of VCRs – Betamax or VHS – more than 100 times over or, think about it, 100 times worse.

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Moving into post-EHR era

Moving into post-EHR era | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Consultants weigh in on what hospitals should expect from them as healthcare moves beyond digitization and into the age of consumerism.

 

Healthcare information technology is evolving in many ways, and quickly so. That means health IT consulting has to change with the times, to evolve alongside the technology consultants help healthcare provider organizations, master.

 

Consultants from top firms across the health IT consulting spectrum have various ideas about what firms must do next to successfully aid provider organizations with technology. Call them next-generation health IT consulting goals.

 

For example, health IT consultants must move beyond prediction, said Jeff Geppert, a senior research leader at Battelle, an independent research, consulting and development organization that applies science, technology, and engineering to challenges in various industries, including healthcare.

 

“The current narrative on health IT consulting services is becoming commonplace,” he said. “The focus is on data science and applications that leverage large and connected datasets, powered by predictive analytics and artificial intelligence/machine learning running in the cloud.”

 

However, there is nothing very transformative about prediction, he cautioned.

 

“It is by necessity short-term and event-driven,” he said. “Healthcare provider organization CIOs should be looking for health IT consultants with a compelling long-term and goal-driven vision, and a plan to work with them to bring that vision about.”

 

"The focus [of health IT consulting] will shift to extracting more value from investments and identifying which new investments are necessary to drive competitive advantage for the system."

“Health IT consulting today seems like the auto industry a hundred years ago with multiple companies competing to build the most technologically advanced car,” he said. “Somewhere out there is the Henry Ford of health IT who will build something inexpensive, standardized, aligned with the needs of people, and scalable from individuals to the federal government.”

 

Healthcare provider organization CIOs should be looking to partner with health IT consultants with demonstrated longevity across multiple industries, he added.

 

John Curin, vice president of innovation at Burwood Group, a healthcare consulting firm that focuses on direct acute care, physician workflow and health IT, said he sees healthcare CIOs watching consulting services expanding beyond the EHR.

 

“The vast majority of the health IT consulting space has been overwhelmingly EHR-centric up to this point,” he contended. “Today, EHR and revenue cycle systems migration is largely complete or well-understood. The focus will shift to extracting more value from those investments and identifying which new investments are necessary to drive competitive advantage for the system.”

 

Further, consultants will offer services to help healthcare providers transition – the shift will be toward internally developed interdisciplinary strategies with a focus on systemwide financial and clinical outcomes improvement, Currin said.

 

“For example, to make IT more successful, CIOs will stop reacting to external plans and timelines, such as regulatory compliance introduced by meaningful use or vendor roadmaps based on product lifecycle and implementation schedules,” he said. “Instead, they will start building frameworks to drive better financial and clinical performance.”

"The time is now for CIOs to embrace consumerism and create a digital strategy that becomes a competitive advantage"

On another note, consumerism is significantly affecting healthcare today, forcing healthcare provider organizations to meet changing patient expectations. Along with receiving the best medical care available, today’s health care consumers also expect a first class experience across every touchpoint at an organization.

 

“With expectations becoming increasingly ‘consumerized,’ executives are realizing that their healthcare organization will be judged on how patients rate their overall experience,” said Rob Barras, executive leader, health solutions, at CTG Health Solutions, a clinical and financial IT consulting firm that serves healthcare provider, payer and life science organizations. “This means that meeting these demands needs to be front of mind for CIOs.”

 

This trend toward a consumerism approach will accelerate significantly, and health IT consultants will have to be on top of it to successfully assist healthcare provider organizations, Barras said. Soon, Amazon, Wal-Mart, CVS, and Apple will consider themselves care providers, he added. And while most traditional health systems are doing business as usual, smart CIOs will plan ahead to match the future expectations set by these retail giants in yet another industry, he said.

 

“Many of these major players believe there is an opportunity to capitalize on what they believe traditional providers have been slow to do – provide easy access and quality care at a reasonable and transparent price,” he said. “The time is now for CIOs to embrace consumerism and create a digital strategy that becomes a competitive advantage, and for consulting firms to rush to assist with this stage in the planning process.”

 

And Barras said that moving forward, health IT consultants have to be getting healthcare provider organizations implementing the latest healthcare information technologies now, not later.

“For the past couple of years, many healthcare organizations have treated emerging technologies as somewhat of a luxury and not as something with immediate business value,” he said. “However, technologies have matured quickly and already are being implemented to meet business needs, meaning organizations without structured plans to roll out the latest in analytic, AI and IoT solutions are in danger of falling out of step with competitors.”

This means that health IT consultants must focus on becoming innovation hubs – as opposed to internal caretakers – of technology to provide true value to healthcare clients, Barras added.

 

“The right CIO can help change the mindset of an organization, but that change must be supported from the top down,” he advised. “A key to this is working with consulting partners who understand that using technology is a way to create a competitive advantage for the future. Providers should engage partners who can clearly articulate the value of their work and the vision.”

 

 

 
 
 
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Getting the Most Out of Your EHR - Healthcare IT Consulting

Getting the Most Out of Your EHR - Healthcare IT Consulting | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

No matter how much your organization has invested in an EHR, there will always be opportunities to improve its performance—especially when considering the ways individuals interact with and are impacted by it. If you are interested in learning how to ensure your implementation goes well or to better leverage your current EHR, check out four popular blog posts about getting the most out of your system.

 

8 Best Practices for Building Better Relationships During EHR Implementation and Training
EHR implementations and training can be highly stressful for end-users, especially those in patient-facing roles. Minimizing that stress can result in more engaged training sessions and better long-term retention, which is why in this article an experienced principal trainer shares how to streamline these processes through relationship building.

 

EHR Training: How to Help Users End Frustration, Overcome Fear and Engage
EHR training should include more than technical skills instruction—it should instill in end-users confidence that they will be able to adapt to a new system (even if they forget a few details post-training). In this blog post, an experienced training consultant explains how to create an environment of positivity conducive to learning.

 

EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Management
Healthcare organizations already analyze patient data to identify savings opportunities, but what often goes overlooked is how the configuration and use of the EHR can make a significant impact on cost and care. This article examines how organizations maturing their population health and value-based care programs can use their existing technology to meet their goals.

 

Quality Reporting: What Your Healthcare Organization Needs to Know About Measure Selection and EHR Configuration
For healthcare organizations with limited resources, participation in pay-for-performance plans like MACRA’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) is challenging. They often lack the time and expertise to retool their EHR implementation to document new metrics and recognize when a measure has been met. In this post, we discuss important data management issues and the repercussions of waiting to address them.

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When Doctors Choose a Job Based on the EHR

When Doctors Choose a Job Based on the EHR | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

I recently had lunch with a young doctor new to our community. The conversation wandered on to how she settled on her new position and the EHR was identified as one of her key selection criteria. She heavily favored positions with institutions running EPIC.

 

Interesting, I thought. Because when I took my first job, the brand of manilla folder used in the patient chart played no role in my decision. Clearly, times have changed. And so have the doctors.

What does this tell us about doctors and technology?

 

Not everybody hates electronic health records. The generation that never felt paper has officially entered the clinical workforce. And despite the popular press and their drive to perpetuate anti-EHR sentiment, not everyone hates EHRs.

 

Our experiences are increasingly defined by our tools. The clinical tools that surround us go a long way in determining our quality of life. So the EHR is likely to shape how we view a position. I’m working on my second EHR system in a decade and my day-to-day life is very different.

 

Technology can draw or repel talent. The technology we use and the systems we choose are likely to impact the docs we recruit and the talent we retain. Hospital systems that use dated and/or dysfunctional EHR systems are likely to feel the impact at some point.

 

An isolated case you might think. But the truth is that millennial physicians see the world and the workplace through a very different lens.

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

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

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EHR and the Failure to Communicate

EHR and the Failure to Communicate | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Clinical workflow in my early career included the ritual of phone messages. Every day, at least once and usually in the afternoon, I would sit with my clinic nurse and a pile of manila folders to discuss phone calls. Details were discussed, recommendations were made, triage assessments were cosigned and I would hold the charts of those patients needing a callback. The ritual began with the daily call to action, “Let’s do calls.”

EHR and the disruption of the nurse-doctor interaction

About 15 years ago when our first EHR, Logician (evolved as Centricity), came along the process of handling calls changed. It was Texas Children’s first venture into EHR and with it we began the long calculation of how electronic records fit our clinical flow.

My nurse at the time was a pediatric nurse with years of experience. Seasoned and crusty, her capacity for laser-sharp phone triage was impeccable. She was a stickler for tight documentation.

 

As we grew comfortable with Logician, the ritual of call review evolved. While we began doing calls around the screen, my nurse began to insist that our daily rendezvous was no longer necessary. “It's’ all in the message. Just read the message, Dr V,” she would crow from her cramped desk. “And the documentation is better. Trust me.” Despite my insistence, she ultimately became an unwilling partner in a clinical dance for two.

 

Our digital phone messages involved a back and forth of queries and replies through the EHR. Documentation was tight. But something was missing.

Not all media are created equal

When it comes to communication not all media are created equal. The assumption on the part of my nurse was that communication through the EHR was the same independent of how it was transmitted. A message, in the end, was just a message.

As it turns out, there are different ways for patients and health professionals to exchange information with one another. All bring different affordances to a human encounter.

 

  • In person (mano y mano)
  • Asynchronous text (Epic MyChart, email)
  • Synchronous text (Live texting)
  • video stream (Skype)
  • audio transmission (phone)
  • And there are lots more.

 

All represent ways for us to exchange health information. As I have written, different problems call for different media depending on the type of problem at hand. Text works well for simple problems. But the text isn’t always enough. A video is an overkill for simple issues. And as inconvenient as it may be for both the patient and the doctor, sometimes a patient needs to be seen, heard or touched in person.

The EHR and the subtle dimensions of the human experience

So when my nurse stopped talking to me about my understanding of what was happening with my kids fell off significantly. The notes were impeccable and the transmission instant. But something was missing.

 

So what was missing from the EHR? As it turns out in human exchange there are subtle elements that get lost in the type. There are critical bits of information during a phone exchange that get picked up by an experienced pediatric nurse. Often there are subtle contextual elements of a social situation that are never properly documented. Some of these things can’t be documented.

 

Sometimes these details only come to my attention when face-to-face with my staff. And there are things that come from the gut that we don’t share in the record.

 

Paper charts didn’t solve this problem with the EHR. Written messages are exactly the same. They just forced us to sit at a table because there was no way to send a paper message across the office and easily back again.

 

Humans are messy. They rarely fit the constraints of the technology we create. The dimensions of the human experience are rarely felt through typewritten messages. Consequently, the accurate exchange of information and documentation of human interaction is potentially more challenging than we think.

 

Communication through and around the electronic health record is an inevitable part of medical practice. But we have a long way to go with regard to capturing the subtle elements of human engagement.

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

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

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