Guest post by Keith Boyce, vice president of business development, RxOffice.
The recent postponement of the implementation of ICD-10 is nothing but good news. Moving the deadline to next year gives providers an opportunity to conduct further research and select the software that is compliant and the least disruptive of their existing processes while keeping the best interest of the patient in mind.
ICD-10 was the first step by the Obama administration’s healthcare plan, Obamacare, which revealed the need for a universal software platform that could work in all medical areas. Some professionals say the ICD-10 and other requirements of the new healthcare plan will cause physicians to spend more time on paper work and less time with patient care. If that is the case, healthcare providers will need a system that will cut down on the amount of time needed for paperwork. With the extension in ICD-10’s implementation, now is the time to make decision about keep or modifying current systems or investing in new ones.
The new regulations proposed through Obamacare will have more of an effect on small to mid-size healthcare providers and the IT companies that cater to them. Larger IT firms are not affected as much because their clients are the hospitals and large research clinics that do not have to adhere to the requirements of ICD-10. This means that these firms are less likely to understand and provide compliant software to smaller, special medical centers, such as diabetes, mental health and podiatry to name a few.
Healthcare providers should look for systems with the following characteristics:
No one will argue that there are not benefits to EHRs (electronic health records). They eliminate paper, enable providers to track data efficiently over a period of time, create a clearinghouse of patient health information in one place, just to name a few. Some argue EHRs improve the overall quality of patient care and business management. However, with so many EHRs on the market, hospitals and doctors’ offices face the daunting task of selecting the right system. Like the general population, most healthcare professionals’ exposure to technology has been limited to that of a consumer, making the selection of the right EHR system a process out of their comfort zone. Then getting trained on how to efficiently use the system while maintaining a high level of patient care comes into play. This has proven to be frustrating, ineffective and possibly dangerous in extreme cases when information is incorrect and/or cannot be accessed. This situation has put healthcare providers in a challenging position, to say the least.
Since 2009 when the federal government rolled out the $30 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as an incentive program for the healthcare industry to go digital with its records, the landscape has changed. One of the first things that happened was the huge influx of technology vendors who decided to make their foray into the healthcare space. Unfortunately, most of these companies did not understand how the industry operated, no pun intended. In fact, the average vendor just launched its first product to the industry in the last year so that does not provide a lot of industry longevity/credibility. Many vendors were focused on getting the peace of $30 billion pie at the cost of their client not getting what the system they needed. Established technology vendors, who shifted their focus on solving the industry’s problems, were outnumbered by the new players who entered the market chasing government grants. The availability of these grants actually created an EHR technology bubble in very short period of time. To make matter worse, well-intended government rules only focused on the end users’ ability to implement technology correctly instead of the technology producers.
With the overwhelming amount of information out there about EHR technology and the providers, healthcare professionals must do thorough due diligence to find the best system that fits their needs. This will take both a time and resource commitment. Let’s look using a metaphor that most people understand or at least have had some experience with, dating. The same principles used in dating can apply when selecting the right EHR technology. Here are four simple rules that can help any healthcare provider make a good business decision when looking for an EHR solution.