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May 13th, 2012

There’s a big gap between what physicians thought they could do, and what they were eligible to do, to collect meaningful use incentives last year, according to a new study, which appears in the May issue of Health Affairs.

The study shows that 91 percent of physicians nationwide were eligible for federal electronic medical record (EMR) incentives in 2011. However, only 10 percent intended to apply for the program.

That number was on the low side of what the federal government had anticipated. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services had estimated that 10 percent to 36 percent of Medicare-eligible professionals and 15 percent to 47 percent of Medicaid-eligible professionals would demonstrate meaningful use in 2011.

According to the authors, among physicians intending to apply for meaningful use, about 21 percent were ready with the 10 core capabilities. Even in the state with the highest degree of readiness - Wisconsin - only 32 percent of physicians were ready with the 10 core capabilities.

The authors say the low level of readiness illustrates the challenges in meeting the federal schedule for financial incentives. Healthcare practices have support options, however. Your IT provider can help you if you need assistance preparing your meaningful use.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 17th, 2012

With the adaptation of Stage 2, companies operating in the electronic medical records will shift their focus from the capture to exchange of health information. One industry insider has recommended 10 things your EMR needs to be truly interoperable.

  1. Single sign-on (SSO). Applications tend to proliferate, and if you don't allow people to switch between these applications using a common login and password, users will get frustrated and give up.
  2. Context transitions. As applications grow, and you need to integrate them into an EMR, SSO won’t be enough, because you’ll still lose the “active patient or task" being performed. You’ll also need to provide for the transition of context between applications.
  3. Widget publishing. EHRs often have hundreds of functions, and if some are exportable or publishable as widgets, they become much easier to integrate into new user interfaces in the future.
  4. Widget consumption. EMRs will become more like containers of cross-application functionality than innate functionality, so consuming widgets will be a basic requirement.
  5. Mash-ups. EMRs should allow access to their content through the content management interoperability services (CMIS) standard, thereby allowing users to unlock content they have in various health records.
  6. Customizable dashboards. EMRs should provide dashboards that can be tailored by organization, user role, or even user.
  7. Interactive Voice Response (IVR). IVR, which allows an EMR to interact with users through phones and other voice systems, such as Skype, will improve collaboration with patients and other physicians who aren’t at a computer.
  8. Voice recognition. This will help users conduct EMR tasks more efficiently.
  9. Natural language understanding. Because most EMR data is entered by humans, an EMR must integrate with systems that can convert the spoken word or typed text to structured data.
  10. Customizable data import and export. A good EMR must allow customizable importing and exporting of simple lists in common formats, such as Excel, CSV and XML.
Details about these tips, and an additional two not discussed above, can be found here.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 14th, 2012

Most medical practices that implement Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) see a significant financial return on investment (ROI). Here are five ways that happens: You can see more patients; you'll reduce missed appointments; your claims processing will be more efficient; you'll spend less on hard technology costs; and you'll improve reimbursements. Below we discuss each in more detail.

  1. You can see more patients. Once you've implemented an EMR and established good work flows, you'll spend less time documenting, allowing you more time to see more patients.

  2. You'll reduce missed appointments. Cancelations and no-shows are key performance indicators. An EMR can reduce them by issuing appointment reminders, and a reduction in missed appointments can improve your bottom line.

  3. Your claims processing will be more efficient. Once you've implemented an EMR, you'll spend less time filing, faxing, and retrieving charts and moving documents, which will allow claims to be processed faster.

  4. You'll spend less on hard technology costs. Once you've implemented an EMR, your technology will be centralized, so you’ll make fewer ad hoc purchases. Moreover, if your EMR is cloud-based, you'll spend less on equipment overall.

  5. You’ll improve reimbursements. Many EMRs have alerts that make sure you're using the correct document to satisfy reimbursement requirements—and improved legibility is a bonus.

    Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 8th, 2012

Wondering what the most-discussed health care IT topics were in 2011—and what they'll likely be in 2012? ID Experts compiled expert opinions and found them to be much the same: mobile devices, patient privacy rights, and data breaches. Below are several of the items from ID Experts’ top 10 list, and additional items and details are available here.

  • Mobile devices could create problems due to data breach risks—because while 81 percent of health care providers use mobile devices to collect, store, and transmit secure information, only 49 percent secure the devices.
  • Class-action lawsuits will rise as patients sue health care providers for failing to secure their personal information, creating significant risks and increasing costs for organizations affected by these lawsuits.
  • As more health care providers use social media, the exposure of personal information will increase, forcing health care providers to develop social media plans to prevent employees exposing patient information through personal social networking sites.
  • Economic realities will force health care providers to outsource many functions including billing to third parties and business associates, and that will create weak links in data privacy and security.
  • The use of mobile devices—tablets and smartphones—will continue to grow in the industry, meaning health care providers will need to balance usability with security.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 10th, 2012

Electronic medical record (EMR) implementations aren't always simpleespecially for small physician groups, which may lack dedicated information technology resources. However, following a few best practices regarding your constituents can help ensure that the process proceeds smoothly. Here are three.

Personalize for physicians. No two physicians are exactly like, so no two physicians should have to do things the same way. And that applies to functions both large and small. People approach even the simplest of technologies, such as email and word processing, differently. A good EMR will provide several ways to accomplish the same task, so be sure you offer physicians the option to choose which will best fit their practice styles.

Include nurses. With that said, an EMR isn't all about the physician. While physicians may be leaders and key decision-makers, they are not the exclusive users of an EMR. According to some reports, nurses account for almost 75 percent of chart use, and physicians just 25 percent. As a result, one of the greatest mistakes of EMR implementation is forgetting about nurses. When you create an EMR committee, be sure to have nursing representatives on it.

Round on users. Just as physicians and nurses "round" on patients at a hospital, you should round on everyone in the practice to gauge their comfort with the EMR. Thirty days and then again six months after you go live, visit each user to observe how he or she uses the EMR, take suggestions, and offer tips about how to best use the EMR within your workflows.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 12th, 2011

Government's incentives for electronic medical record (EMR) adoption could pay off in improved quality of care, according to a new study. It found that patients in physician practices that used EMRs got better care and had better outcomes than those in physician practices that used paper records.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 500 primary care physicians treating 27,000 adults with diabetes.

According to the study, those patients in physician practices that used EMRs were significantly more likely to have care that met certain standards as well as positive outcomes than those in physician practices that used paper records.

Standards included timely measurements of blood sugar, management of kidney problems, eye examinations, and vaccinations for pneumonia. Positive outcomes included meeting national benchmarks for blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol control, as well as achieving a non-obese body mass index and avoidance of tobacco use.

Almost 51 percent of patients at EMR-based practices received care that met all of the endorsed standardscompared to only 7 percent of patients at paper-based practices. And almost 44 percent of patients in EMR-based practices met at least four of five outcome standardscompared to just 16 percent of patients at paper-based practices.

According to the study, these findings were consistent regardless of insurance type (Medicare, Medicaid and commercial payers) as well as for the uninsured.

David Blumenthal, MD, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, says these results support the expectation that federal support of EMRs will generate quality-related returns on investment (ROI).

Related articles: EHR Incentives Can Generate "Quality-Related" ROI, Study Says

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.