Tag: electronic health records

Why Your Practice Needs Electronic Health Reporting

As technology evolves and there’s more emphasis on streamlining business practices, there’s an increasing reliance on electronic health records. In 2014, private healthcare providers were required to adopt electronic medical records to maintain their existing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels. The move was a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which aimed to improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities.

The Act also offered financial incentives to those providers who could prove meaningful use in the adoption of electronic health reporting. Non-compliant healthcare providers faced penalties, including a 1 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements. When it was officially mandated, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 12 percent growth in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. Positions they expected to open up included medical records and health information technicians, computer systems managers, health managers and computer support specialists.

If you’re unsure about the role electronic health reporting can play in your practice, using the following information as a valuable resource. Every practice can benefit from EHR, and it’s important to understand the how and why.

Electronic Medical Records vs. Electronic Health Records

Electronic medical records and electronic health records are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Medical records offer a more narrow view of an individual’s medical history, and it’s used mainly for diagnosis and treatment. They are unique to a specific practice and are not designed to be shared outside of that practice.

Electronic health records, on the other hand, show a patient’s overall history. It is a comprehensive medical chart that’s intended to be shared with other practices. It includes everything from images to allergies to lab results. If the patient were to move across state lines, their electronic medical record would follow them, while an electronic health record stays with the practices they leave behind.

Improved Efficiency and Cost Savings

Electronic health records can provide immense benefits in terms of increased efficiency. This can be demonstrated by current statistics on EHR. One survey found that 79 percent of users stated that EHR allowed their practices to run more efficiently. Of the doctors surveyed, 82 percent reported that sending prescriptions electronically saved time, 75 percent received lab results even quicker, and 70 percent reported increased data confidentiality.

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Why Your Practice Needs Electronic Health Reporting

As technology evolves and there’s more emphasis on streamlining business practices, there’s an increasing reliance on electronic health records. In 2014, private healthcare providers were required to adopt electronic medical records to maintain their existing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels. The move was a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which aimed to improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities.

The Act also offered financial incentives to those providers who could prove meaningful use in the adoption of electronic health reporting. Non-compliant healthcare providers faced penalties, including a 1 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements. When it was officially mandated, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 12 percent growth in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. Positions they expected to open up included medical records and health information technicians, computer systems managers, health managers and computer support specialists.

If you’re unsure about the role electronic health reporting can play in your practice, using the following information as a valuable resource. Every practice can benefit from EHR, and it’s important to understand the how and why.

Electronic Medical Records vs. Electronic Health Records

Electronic medical records and electronic health records are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Medical records offer a more narrow view of an individual’s medical history, and it’s used mainly for diagnosis and treatment. They are unique to a specific practice and are not designed to be shared outside of that practice.

Electronic health records, on the other hand, show a patient’s overall history. It is a comprehensive medical chart that’s intended to be shared with other practices. It includes everything from images to allergies to lab results. If the patient were to move across state lines, their electronic medical record would follow them, while an electronic health record stays with the practices they leave behind.

Improved Efficiency and Cost Savings

Electronic health records can provide immense benefits in terms of increased efficiency. This can be demonstrated by current statistics on EHR. One survey found that 79 percent of users stated that EHR allowed their practices to run more efficiently. Of the doctors surveyed, 82 percent reported that sending prescriptions electronically saved time, 75 percent received lab results even quicker, and 70 percent reported increased data confidentiality.

EHR Cost Savings

There are immense cost savings associated with EHR. For example, large hospitals can save anywhere between $37 million to $59 million over a five-year period, not including incentive benefits. The majority of those savings come from the ability to eliminate various labor-intensive tasks and other paper-driven responsibilities. With better access to patient data and smart error prevention alerts, the chances of medical errors are greatly reduced. You’ll also experience easier communication across the entire medical channel. You can track electronic messages from staff to labs to other hospitals and clinicians.

Many administrative tasks are streamlined, resulting in time reduction. Filling out forms and taking care of billing requests often take up a significant portion of healthcare costs. Electronic health records also provide more information on next best steps, and can automatically siphon information that needs to be shared with various public health agencies.

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Do You Spend Most of Your Time Completing Patient Health Records Instead of Treating Them?

Guest post by Saqib Ayaz, co-founder, Workflow Management and Optimization.

Saqib Ayaz
Saqib Ayaz

Then you are seriously in need of healthcare IT solutions.

With advancements in technology, the healthcare sector is becoming digitized. The focus is on personalized and patient-centric technology, which can help in accelerating the process of treatment.

Healthcare IT solutions are meant for delivering the best service to the patients as well as to enhance operational efficiency. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed to provide $19 billion for the purpose of promoting the use of EHR technology in hospitals and medical practices. This proves the growing importance of healthcare IT solutions.

Healthcare IT includes the latest technologies like analytics, cloud computing, electronic health record systems, as well as data management systems. A growing number of institutions are successfully implementing healthcare IT solutions to improve their efficiency. It has been observed that manual entering of data and health records of patients are taking up too much time of the administrative staff as well as the medical personnel. This time can be utilized to provide better services to the patients.

Here are some of the benefits of using healthcare IT:

EHR technology –– Electronic health records are part of the digital revolution that has taken over the healthcare sector. EHRs make the whole process of keeping patient records very streamlined and efficient. Data can be accessed both by the doctors as well as the patients because it is available on an electronic platform. The personal health records portal helps in management of patient information. Medical personnel can take better care of the patients when they have all the information on one platform. Time and effort spent on manually entering the data are saved so that doctors can provide better treatment to the patients and can serve the people who are in need of doctor care.

Better coordination of patient care — Healthcare IT solutions help in better coordination between physicians, specialists, nursing staff, lab technicians and other medical personnel. Vital information regarding the patient’s health is available to all of them. When the same data can be accessed by everyone, the problems of duplicate tests, contradictory medication prescription and miscommunication can be avoided. This saves time and minimizes the chances of errors leading to improvement in the overall quality of care that is provided to the patients.

Patient empowerment– When the patient has access to all his personal health records, he can play a more active role in managing his overall well being and determine the outcome of the treatment that he receives. All the lab results, medical history records as well as drug information are available on an online platform for the patient. The EHR system allows the patient to schedule appointments, communicate with the doctor as well as to refill prescriptions. Such healthcare IT solutions increase patient satisfaction.

Cost savings — Healthcare IT not only saves time, but expenses too. Easier documentation reduces the administrative cost and increases the number of patients that a medical facility can treat. This leads to an overall increase in revenue generation.

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Now More Than Ever, It’s About Quality … and Quantity

Guest post by Scott Ciccarelli, CEO, SRS Health.

Scott Ciccarelli
Scott Ciccarelli

People perform better if they have a vested interest in the outcome of a given situation. Employees who are given an ownership stake in their company historically perform better and enjoy a higher degree of satisfaction from their respective jobs than do their non-stake-holding counterparts.

Recent research has shown that a similar premise holds true in healthcare. Patients who are engaged in their own care generally have better outcomes and enjoy higher satisfaction in the care they received. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, “A growing body of research has established the benefits of patient activation, which is defined as the knowledge, skills, confidence and motivation to make effective decisions and take action to maintain or improve one’s health.”

According to a 2016 New England Journal of Medicine survey of 340 U.S. healthcare executives, clinician leaders and clinicians at organizations directly involved in healthcare delivery, 42 percent of respondents indicated that less than a quarter of their patients were highly engaged, and more than 70 percent reported having less than half of their patients highly engaged. And to underscore the importance of this result, 47 percent of those surveyed revealed that low patient engagement was the biggest challenge they faced in improving patient health outcomes.

This is not only true for hospitals, but also for specialty care practices. In these environments, it is imperative that practices understand the very specific needs and behavior of their patients, so they can determine how best to conduct effective outreach that will increase patient engagement and patient portal utilization.

Importance of User Interface

A results-driven (or high performance) patient engagement platform helps turn patients into partners in their own healthcare. In addition, a proper next-generation solution supports compliance with MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment System), a component of MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) Reauthorization Act), and with meaningful use (MU), by providing patients the ability to view, download or share their medical record. Payback is many fold: In addition to helping providers meet regulations through a user-friendly interface, patients are freeing up time for caregivers to spend with them by self-populating data fields that would previously have been handled by caregivers. This streamlining of the patient intake process delivers significant time and cost savings to the practice.

Equally important is a patient portal that helps patients remain engaged while enabling practices to comply with government requirements under meaningful use and the MACRA regulations, thereby increasing Medicare payments and minimizing takebacks. It is imperative that the patient portal seamlessly integrates with the organization’s electronic health record (EHR), health information exchange (HIE) and accountable care organization (ACO), if the practice is participating in one. Ideally, the solution should be able to adapt to any healthcare facility’s IT system—not the other way around. Patient engagement initiatives should permeate the practice’s entire healthcare ecosystem.

Engaging for ACOs, Triple Aim

Originally a concept born of healthcare reform, accountable care organizations (ACOs) were initially little more than a way of redefining the shared responsibility of doctors and hospital staff to coordinate care, improve quality and lower costs. It did not, however, specifically examine the role of the patient. That all changed when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came along and the ACOs were officially codified into law. Furthermore, the law also recognized that ACOs could not succeed without patient engagement. According to the IHI, “quality,” in this case, is defined from the perspective of an individual member of a given population, hence the logical focus on patient-centric care and patient engagement.

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Facebook as a Model for Electronic Health Records?

Guest post by Tim Scott, chief operating officer, American Medical Software.

Throughout the technological age we are currently living in, the advances in medical technology have gone far beyond what was once considered possible. Thanks to the introduction of the Internet and smart phones, information has become more readily available then ever before. Social media platforms have also made it possible for us to personally connect with people across the globe. These advances have shaped the way medical field has stored and held information. Medical providers are increasingly realizing the advantages of switching to electronic heath records (EHRs) as opposed to traditional pen and paper patient records. EHRs allow patient records to be more readily available, allowing for better office efficiency and patient relations.

The Old: Provider-centric EHR Software
However, patient convenience is still a factor within EHR technology that needs improvement. In today’s society, it has become the expectancy to be able to find information on the go at the touch of our fingertips. This is especially true when the information they are in search for is relevant and relates to them. Unfortunately, EHR features have become focused on billing and coding, as opposed to being more patient centric. This is a result from physicians being typically paid based on the exams and procedures performed during an office visit. Physicians need their software to document complex billing codes to ensure they’re properly paid.

It’s Time for EHR Software to be Patient-centric
It’s time EHR vendors stride towards the next evolutionary step to becoming patient-centric. This problem can be solved by following the lead of an outside innovator in sharing and viewing information about individuals: Facebook. Facebook is the front-runner for social media platforms, and their results show. Facebook is the fourth most valuable brand in the world; so clearly, there is something about this technology and interface that people appreciate.

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The Importance of Keeping Up with Your Medical Records

Guest post by Saqib Ayaz, co-founder, Workflow Optimization.

Saqib Ayaz
Saqib Ayaz

Thanks to technological innovation, more and more healthcare facilities are now adopting the use of electronic health records (EHRs). Patients now have more opportunities to consult with their physicians about their medical records. Increased access to EHRs also means that providers will now be able to easily share patient information with other providers. The goal of increasing access to medical records is to improve the continuity of care, as well as enhance patient safety.

As more patients are able to access their records, they can impact the accuracy of the information contained within by asking questions about their medical information, by identifying inaccuracies in the information and also by giving additional information that may be useful in improving the correctness of the data. Incorporating feedback from the patients themselves implies that patients indeed do play a crucial role in improving the quality of information in their medical records.

The rewards of keeping up with your medical records are quite obvious.

First, it is the best way to ensure that your physician understands what you communicate to them. It is also a good way for the doctors to ensure that they understand what you communicate. Even though the benefits are clear, many people are often reluctant to request for their medical records. Worse still, countless individuals out there do not know that they can. Every individual is entitled to complete access to their chart from any medical facility that has ever dispensed care.

Not only are you obligated to share more information with your doctors, the information that you give makes a difference in how you respond to the treatment prescribed. Accurate information improves your chances of complying to the therapies prescribed successfully, which will consequently allow you to recover and heal in the shortest time possible.

What is contained in your medical records?

There is a difference between your official medical records and the scribbled notes that are typically handed to you after a consultation. Most scribbled notes simply contain a generic outline of your symptoms and a short prescription often written in a code that many individuals cannot understand. These, are not your medical records.

Your official medical records contain all the juicy details of your medical journey; your lab results, physician’s notes, the past and present allergic reactions and reactions to medicines, blood pressure stats and basically anything that concretely makes up your entire health profile.

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The Healthcare IT Data Revolution: Maintaining Independence With Innovative HCIT Systems

Guest post by Scott Ciccarelli, CEO, SRS Health.

Scott Ciccarelli
Scott Ciccarelli

At the beginning of their existence, electronic health records (EHRs) were primarily used as a document management system. Now, they have realigned their objectives and value to the physicians and practices they serve, to focus on data intelligence. If specialty practices want to stay independent they need to continue to evolve, prioritize value-based care and stay profitable. Moreover, they need the right partners to help enhance operational efficiency, increase patient engagement and achieve better clinical outcomes. As such, the scope of the EHRs responsibility for the practice’s health, growth, and sustainability has increased exponentially.

How will specialty practices ensure their future? By leveraging the power of clinical and operational data in their EHR and supplemental business applications, working together within the healthcare IT (HCIT) ecosystem. Businesses across all industries analyze data to measure overall industry performance. Metrics are the foundation for any successful business and physician groups are not excluded. Metrics should be the driving force behind every major decision that will boost productivity. However, physicians are not data scientists, but by utilizing the next generation HCIT systems, they can employ technology that will streamline the decision making process.

Challenges turn into opportunities

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 171,000 physicians who did not collect and use data to comply with government regulations are looking at a three percent Meaningful Use penalty in 2017. Coupled with a new focus on value-based care requirements playing a critical role in care and outcomes, upgrading their data platform and capabilities should be the number one priority to comply with new industry standards. Data driven HCIT solution providers can prepare specialty practices for these coming changes. They help collect and analyze data to ensure effective treatment plans at lower costs.

Bottom line: This helps improve patient health and satisfaction.

Today’s HCIT systems are considered business tools that help physicians analyze data and reveal insights to use for enhanced decision making. Popular “big-box” HCIT systems try to be all things to all providers, yet they are tailored to hospitals and primary care physicians—many who typically see far fewer patients in a day than specialists. This puts a major burden on specialists, who rely on different clinical and operational data to help maximize outcomes.

Specialists potentially see up to 60 patients a day – and cover surgeries, follow-ups and everything in between. Generic HCIT systems fall short in relation to appointment volume. Combined with the fact those systems make data entry inefficient, impede clinical workflows, and lack business metrics, this is the major argument for specialty-focused HCIT solutions. Some groups acquired by hospitals or health systems have not adopted the integrated systems of their new parent companies. Instead, they stay with their specialty HCIT systems—interoperable with their parent companies’ technology—because of their ability to serve existing, proven workflows.

Data insights and a workflow makeover

Specialty HCIT systems that analyze a variety of data and provide practices with the knowledge to improve their performance will deliver the best outcomes for patients and practices. Analyzing operational data provides an understanding of how to deliver the best patient care at the lowest cost, thereby delivering optimal outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction levels.

Specialists should take the opportunity to re-evaluate their EHR and determine if their goals are helped or hindered by their current HCIT ecosystem. A productivity-boosting HCIT system can harness the power of data to deliver clinical and business applications, workflows, and insight through one user interface and make compliance with reporting requirements simple and straightforward.

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Increase Efficiency and Practice Success with Comprehensive Medical Software

Guest post by Tim Scott, chief operating officer, American Medical Software.

Owning and running a practice doesn’t come without its barriers and certain difficulties. That’s why the selection, evaluation, purchase, and integration of a medical software system that is right for you and your practice is of innate importance. Having the correct software system will let your practice run more efficiently and effectively, all while adding to your bottom-line.

Choosing Medical Software that is Perfect for Your Practice

There are several variables to keep in mind when deciding on a software system for your practice; not the least of which are the initial financial investment, overall upkeep and maintenance costs, and the quality of technical support.

A good characteristic to look at when deciding on a software system is comprehensive integration, with data seamlessly connected and shared between scheduling, billing, and electronic medical records. In order to see a rise in efficiency in your day-to-day procedures and routines, your data should be instantly accessible, both onsite and remotely, and formatted to be easily read.

Now let’s talk budgeting: It’s important to properly calculate your practice’s current financial standings so you can have an idea of the system that is right for you. Software options can either be purchased directly or leased to purchase.

Practices will be able to identify outstanding transactions, which will result in more efficient strategies for both collecting income and preventing loss of income.

Track Patients More Efficiently and Increase Productivity within Your Practice

Another element to running a more successful practice relates to maximizing patient workflow and staff productivity. The importance in tracking your patients cannot be understated, and utilizing the right software system is the essential step towards tracking patients most effectively and increasing overall staff productivity within a practice.

As owners of a practice, two things that can be intrinsically frustrating are patient “no-shows” and lost revenue from canceled or missed appointments. Well, utilizing scheduling software can help track and manage your patient’s appointments to avoid these situations from ever happening again. Managing this data under the right system can promote management strategies that can foresee patient trends so practices can plan accordingly. For example, a practice can provide reminders or alerts to those patients with a history of canceling or missing appointments to maintain patient volume.

These medical software systems also have the ability to verify patient eligibility the day they come in, or even before whenever their appointment is scheduled for. Obviously this drastically reduces wasted time within your staff and increases time for patient care, resulting in a far more efficient practice.

Organize Clinical Data with Ease through EHR Integration

Now to talk about clinical reporting within your practice. Organization cannot be easier and more efficient when utilizing a software system to help manage your practice. Below are some practical techniques that can help you see large benefits within your practice:

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Healthcare’s New Mobile Age

Guest post by Edgar T. Wilson, writer, consultant and analyst.

Edgar Wilson

Mobile technology is impacting every element of American healthcare–from insurance and billing to documentation and caregiving, the impacts are being felt. The truly transformative element of the mobile revolution is not the technology itself, or the way it changes the look and feel of the tasks it affects. Despite complaints of the depersonalizing effect of technology, the ultimate value of mobile in the sector will be how it enhances and encourages communication.

Providers are Going Mobile

Already, flexibility and functionality have already drawn providers to mobile devices and solutions. Voice-to-text technology and similar automated solutions are in the offing to relieve the documentation burden that has dampered some amount of enthusiasm toward digitization. Bolstered by these advancements, caregivers will go from subjects of their EHRs to masters of patient encounters.

One of the huge benefits of mobility–as opposed to simply being networked on desktop computers or having a digital health records solution–is the capacity for greater native customization and app development. Native apps are like the currency of the mobile, smart device world providers are entering. Developers can deliver personal, branded interfaces that allow doctors to choose precisely how they want their dashboards to look, giving their EHRs a custom touch that has been sorely lacking throughout their implementation.

App-centric development will further reduce the friction of adoption and utilization, giving doctors a sense of empowerment and investment, rather than the bland inertia that has carried digitization thus far.

The personalization of the technology through app development will help boost adoption, and return the focus to what the technology enables, rather than how it looks or what it has replaced. Mobile technology’s strength will be in reconnecting doctors and patients, and creating bridges of data and communication across the continuum of care.

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The Promise of Tomorrow’s EHR

Guest post by Paul Brient, CEO, PatientKeeper, Inc.

Paul Brient
Paul Brient

Advances in technology have fundamentally altered and inarguably improved the way we drive, shop and travel. Just ask anybody who uses Google Maps, Foodler or Uber.

Sadly, however, information technology has failed to deliver so far in the most crucial service of all – healthcare.  This is at least partly because electronic health records (EHR) systems grew out of the computer systems that run the hospital’s inner workings — patient scheduling, admission and discharge, staff payroll and accounts receivable. For system designers, physicians’ needs were an afterthought, which is problematic because physicians are, after all, the linchpin of the healthcare delivery system.

To begin pulling healthcare IT out of the past, we must first take a look at how it supports physicians. The short answer today is “not well.” In fact, EHRs are creating as much frustration as benefit.  Problems include poor presentation of patient data, fragmented information sources and unwieldy user interfaces that require dozens of mouse clicks or screen taps. It’s no wonder more than half of physicians who responded to a recent survey claimed their EHR system had negative impacts on costs, efficiency and productivity – three things IT should help, not hinder. These issues not only affect physicians’ professional satisfaction, they contribute to the phenomenon of physician burnout, which is a growing concern across healthcare. Studies show some 30 percent of primary-care physicians age 35 to 49 plan to leave medicine, and there’s an expected shortage of 25,000 surgeons by 2025. A Mayo Clinic study released earlier this year directly connected the burnout problem to physicians’ use of EHRs.

Today’s EHRs have done little more than “pave the cow paths.” We’ve gotten rid of paper in the hospital and made processes electronic, which is why EHRs can legitimately claim to have reduced transcription errors. But eliminating paper is just table stakes; the critical next phase is to do for healthcare what Uber has done for transportation: Reinvent the process so it’s optimized for and native to the technology that enables it.

Patients and physicians can and should advocate for such change. Today, patients have access to a vast body of information—the notes a doctor took, quality of care rankings, the level of personalization provided—and it’s only going to increase.  As Lygeia Ricciardi, former director of the Office of Consumer eHealth at ONC said, “Getting access to personal health information is the start of engaging patients to be full partners in their care.”

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