My father was diagnosed with diabetes when he was very young and lived his entire life maneuvering various healthcare systems. He had multiple eye surgeries, which is common for diabetes patients. He had pancreatic issues, open heart surgery, and two kidney transplants. It was a lot and, as his daughter, one of the most difficult parts of it all was watching my mother be his primary caregiver, managing doctor appointments, medication prescriptions, treatment plans and insurance claims.
At the time, there was little to no technology on the practice management side of healthcare. Until the internet connected us all, EHR systems were contained to inpatient and outpatient facilities, primarily used as data interchange platforms for claims processing with scanning capabilities to create images of documents. I remember my mother carrying a binder from doctor’s office to doctor’s office – the most effective way for her to keep an easily accessible list of my father’s ailments, healthcare conditions, medications, and all the other details needed by the countless doctors across my father’s continuum of care.
How AI is creating more meaningful patient experiences
Fast-forward two decades and we’re now in an entirely new reality with an ever-expanding healthcare technology ecosystem. Medical office software platforms do so much more than claims processing and digital document storage. Interoperable EHR systems let physicians share treatment plans and easily access medical histories and lab results anywhere and anytime. Patients can schedule appointments online and login to patient portals to get test results in real time. Telehealth has ushered in brand new healthcare delivery models and helped drive greater adoption of behavioral health services. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies have been a game-changer for so many, helping patients better manage chronic illnesses.
And now, with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI), we’re seeing the next wave of healthtech – an advancement that is bringing our entire industry closer to the promise of fully connected or interoperable healthcare systems. AI is having a massive impact on medical practice workflow processes, empowering healthcare providers and medical office staff. AI applications are making it possible to automate tedious and redundant tasks so that medical professionals can focus their time on valuable work that greatly improves the patient experience and outcomes – and that’s just on the business side of things.
By Jessica Kojima, vice president of professional services, AdvancedMD.
Medical providers often battle inefficient and piecemeal software configurations that constitute the technological lifelines of their practices. Even if current solutions aren’t integrated to meet their needs, they sometimes feel it is easier to stick with what they’ve got instead of considering the possibility of upheaval.
Staying current—or better yet, striving for innovation—often comes at a price of temporary disruption for providers and staff. But if a new electronic health record (EHR) and practice management (PM) system are implemented with proper planning and stakeholder buy-in, the practice can realize true efficiency without substantial disruption.
Here are three best practices for implementing a new EHR or PM system for medical practices to minimize disruption.
Consider the big picture
Before the EHR/PM implementation process kicks off, the practice should assess the effectiveness of its clinical and administrative workflows. A practice that wants to cram a new EHR or PM into an existing workflow that isn’t working is thinking short-term. It’s important to consider “big picture” goals and aim to improve bad processes and optimize productivity. An effective approach will realize efficiencies across an entire practice versus one function or role. By considering the importance of productivity optimization across the whole operation, a holistic and integrated approach will enable growth and improvement for both patients and staff.
Preparing for payer migration
While considering the practice’s overall goals, the practice must also perform a payer analysis. A new PM system will require new Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) agreement enrollments to electronically submit and receive claims, remittance, eligibility, and claims status, which differ from payer to payer. This is often a forgotten aspect of moving to a new practice management system, and is arguably the most critical change. The practice should have the following items ready well before implementation:
List of payer IDs as they are credentialed. This information can be found by reviewing how the practice submits and receives electronic transactions currently, or by contacting the payer directly.
The official name as credentialed.
Understand if the providers are credentialed as a group or provider.
National provider identification (NPI) number.
Many payers also require online registrations, voided checks, letters on specific letterhead—to name a few—to process an agreement. This demands timely attention by a designated individual in the practice for a seamless enrollment process. The practice should also set a “go-live” date to start submitting transactions through the new system. Preparing adequately in the weeks ahead of implementation will enable a timely kickoff of the new system.
Focus on people
Instinctively, an EHR and PM implementation might seem to be all about the software technology. Not so: it’s about the people. It’s vital that a medical practice identifies an implementation champion who will be responsible for both supporting and managing the transition. Depending on how aggressive the go-live goal is, the practice may need a practice management and a clinical champion to ensure all of the configuration and training occurs simultaneously. The champion’s role is to listen to every staff member affected by the transition and communicate openly with the team about why the switch is being made and how the leadership will support them. Ideally, everyone agrees on the approach, objectives, and expected outcomes.
The term “patient engagement” has emerged as this year’s buzz phrase much the same way “patient portals” were a couple years ago and even similar to “electronic health records” and “meaningful use” before that. Volumes of articles, case studies, white papers and educational sessions have been dedicated to the topic of patient engagement and even at this years’ annual HIMSS conference patient engagement as a topic discussed was the rule and not the exception. With every step through the maze of booths in Orlando it seemed as if the words – “patient engagement” — were whispered and shouted from every direction.
Patient engagement is now synonymous with health IT, yet the topic is proving to be one of healthcare’s stickiest wickets because no matter whom or how many people you ask there seems to be a different response or definition to the term and how it is achieved.
With all of this uncertainty and confusion about patient engagement, I set out to see if I could define the term by asking a number of health IT insiders what they thought “patient engagement” meant, or what it meant to them. Their insightful and educational responses are what follow.