Guest post by Brian White, founder of Competitive Solutions.
Should every physician practice adopt electronic health records? Maybe not. When evaluating the transition to an EHR system, it is critical to consider the long-term efficiency of the practice. Simply put, EHR adoption will not yield operational improvements for every practice.
While many practices using EHRs increase the overall throughput of the business and enhance profitability, others struggle with adoption of the new technology – slowing operations and creating significant financial losses. Many practices repeatedly change vendors or abandon the EHR entirely after significant investment. Making the right decision for your individual practice and navigating the pitfalls of EHR implementation can be difficult and time-consuming. Maximize your potential for success by undertaking a strategic evaluation that includes the following considerations.
If your practice has not adopted EHR, is now the time to do so?
1. What are the operational benefits/detriments of adoption?
a. Will EHR allow the practice to see more patients? Or, will it cause the practice to see fewer patients?
b. Will EHR require additional labor in the day-to-day function of treating patients? (In most cases, the answer to this question will be yes.)
c. Will EHR provide the ability to track trends in patient status, statistical data or ease of access that will be more efficient and/or clinically beneficial?
Guest post by Mike Hoaglin, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
“Patient engagement” is a phrase that reinvigorates the doctor-patient relationship and prioritizes the patient experience. With many designers scrambling to “engage” patients in their healthcare journeys, it is easy to get lost in the chaos. But what lies at its core is simple: healthcare leaders need to find easy methods that better connect people with the environment and the technology.
One way this is already proving effective is with the smartphone physical. Led by medical students from John Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania, quick diagnostic tests using devices connected to a smartphone are changing the face of the traditional physical and begging the question as to why modern medicine struggles to become more patient-centric.
The smartphone physical uses a series of peripheral devices attached to a smartphone to measure and analyze patient data ranging from weight to blood pressure to even heart activity. Patients are then able to receive an overall health picture and potentially electronic health record (EHR)-ready results from the smartphone physical immediately after the experience. Essentially these robust handheld digital devices are re-engaging patients because they promote more personalized, data-driven decision-making at the point of care.
The Hill Country Health and Wellness Center is a small clinic located in the rural community of Round Mountain in Northern California. The Center, which opened in a trailer in the 1980s, continues to reflect its founder’s passion for helping the area’s rural, largely underserved population. From that humble beginning, with one doctor and one nurse working without pay, the clinic today is housed in a modern building, with 90 employees.
The Center’s provider staff, consisting of two MDs, three mid-levels and three dentists sees about 3,700 patients per year — most of whom drive 30 miles or more for care.
All of the Center’s providers are in different stages of earning meaningful use incentive payments. The physician and nurse practitioners have each attested to Medi-Cal’s Adopt, Implement, Upgrade (AIU) incentive program.
The Center, which has been live on its EHR since June 2012, uses GE Centricity.
According to Epocrates’ annual mobile trends survey physicians and other providers have an urgent need for tools and resources that can assist them in meeting more stringent and complex requirements around administrative tracking, economic trajectories of different therapies, and ultimately, patient outcomes. Clinicians clearly endorse the viability of mobile technology to enable rapid access to clinical information and communication among a growing roster of caregivers.
Industry stakeholders, such as EHR providers, pharmaceutical companies, technology firms and content owners, must now determine how best to leverage this groundswell of behavioral input to inform product development and marketing programs that support providers in successfully embracing these rapidly evolving models of healthcare.
Guest post Ruby Raley is director of healthcare solutions at Axway.
One little-discussed but widely recognized aim of the HITECH Act’s meaningful use Stage 2 requirements is to stem rising costs and improve outcomes by engaging the consumer to take control of their healthcare. But how is the consumer supposed to take control of anything when their health plan determines which clinicians and hospitals they can visit, and their doctor controls their health record?
That’s an issue the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognized as they developed the incentives for the HITECH Act. To address it, they adopted the electronic health record (EHR), a tool that (1) helps clinicians and hospitals reap incentives and avoid penalties by proving they’ve achieved meaningful use, and (2) puts the certification burden on EHR vendors instead of clinicians and hospitals.
Introducing an electronic medical records system into the practice helps the physicians and staff provide more efficient health care by making medical records more accessible to all health care team members. It also brings some risks. In this two-part article, CAP Risk Management and Patient Safety identifies 10 areas of risk exposure and provides some brief recommendations in each area.
Tracking of laboratory and diagnostic orders and results is more efficient and timely when all orders are processed through the EMR with a bi-directional interface. If possible, also set up to receive all results back through the system. If fax or paper reports are received, scan and index reports into the system the same day. The EHR system may also be used as a “tickler file” for verification of orders and paper reports. Physicians should see all diagnostic testing whether normal or abnormal.
The ability of consumers and healthcare providers to access information and streamline processes using mobile devices is having a profound impact on healthcare.
For the first time this year, sales of smartphones are expected to surpass sales of traditional cell phones. More than 800 million smartphones are expected to be sold worldwide in 2013, according to Canalys. In addition, IDC predicts that more than 170 million tablets will be sold this year, surpassing laptop sales.
All these mobile devices in the hands of consumers means that the mobile app market will continue its torrid pace, and this is true in healthcare too. The market for mobile healthcare apps is expected to reach $400 million by 2016, according to ABI Research.
With the consumerization of healthcare, both doctors and hospitals have a vested interest in delivering an experience that will build patient loyalty. At the same time, new healthcare laws also are putting patients in a position of being more responsible for their own care. Healthcare providers who give patients the tools they need to simplify information and make informed choices will build stronger and longer relationships with patients. Mobile apps will be the heart of these tools.
Kal Patel, COO of Meditab Software, speaks about innovation in health IT, reactions from physicians and caregivers about the continuous changes in health IT, trends affecting the industry, where we are going and how we are going to get there and the qualities he thinks makes for a health IT leader.
What’s your daily motivation and what makes for innovation currently in the HIT market?
I am motivated by innovation, focusing on creating a product that’s in a league its own, not only for usability, but for the highest and best use, providing each practice the most customized solution for their specialty needs. We don’t subscribe to the notion that one size fits all.
Since the dawn of meaningful use, questions have swirled about how the money, the incentives, are being spent by those who receive them. In fact, it’s a question I’ve asked several colleagues, practicing physicians and healthcare leaders.
The answer typically depends on the person giving it. As such, no two answers are ever really the same, but there are some general responses offered.
The most common, from my perspective have something to do with responses such as “work to ensure better patient care,” “take steps to be more efficient” and “better meet our goals.”