Why adopt Electronic Medical Records?

By now, anyone who is somehow related to the healthcare sector must be aware of the adoption saga of Electronic Medical Records. Due to the number of incentives given by the government, and the benefits it holds, majority of institutions in the healthcare industry have already either converted or are in the phase of converting to recording of medical records electronically. Just like any other radical innovation, there are benefits as well as costs associated to it. Benefits are usually in the form of ease, cost reduction and cutting down of errors. Whereas, costs are the result of the shift from old ways of storing data which of course, can be taken care of soon after embracing new ways. Considering the importance of healthcare, physicians will always show a little resistance in adopting new technologies however, trust shall develop over time.

However, whether physicians decide to move to Electronic Medical Records or stick to the traditional ways, they need to conduct a thorough research that can help them reach a sensible conclusion. When it comes to the benefits associated with Electronic Health Records, it is well known for speeding up the overall documentation process and reducing the effort required in storing data. Moreover, electronic documentation reduces human errors during vital procedures. In addition to this, the data is easily accessible by physicians and patients anywhere, whenever required.

With so many developments taking place recently, IT healthcare Vendors have integrated Practice Management Software into the Electronic Medical Records. This software caters to more than one issue, which is, providing a platform for electronically recording data, as well as incorporating Practice Management in the practice that streamlines clinical, administrative and financial operations. These bundle solutions are the future of the healthcare industry and the market leader will be decided on the basis of the number of easy and user friendly solutions provided by them. Embracing Practice Management and Electronic Medical Records in everyday practice helps physicians concentrate more on the patient which eventually results in quality care.



Electronic Medical Records – Seeing is believing

By injecting huge amounts of funds within the health IT industry, the US government is successfully automating healthcare. Roughly, $370 million was allocated to different

healthcare departments including the office of the National Coordinator for Information Health Care Technology, Department of Commerce for health care information integration activities, and Department of Health and Human Services. This huge funding explains the seriousness of the situation and the extent to which government is trying hard to modernize health care, with implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) as the stepping stone.

Moreover, government will be providing incentives to the physicians who will be meaningfully using the information technology.  ‘Meaningful use’ is a relative term and different physicians take it differently. However, it is best described as the clinically correct way of using technology that will bring significant improvement in health care. The aim is to have physicians demonstrate healthcare in a meaningful manner in order to get the best health care results by bringing the errors to a mere low. Adoption of Electronic Medical Records will ensure that the medical community is following industry best practices and justifying it as well.

There are many studies that support the idea of having Electronic Medical Records. Recent studies indicate that EMR adoption doesn’t only improve the quality of health care provided, but also reduces the malpractice claims done by physicians and insurance companies. Equally important, it reduces the hassle of documenting everything on paper, brings down cost, and access health information from multiple locations. According to a study by Harvard, malpractices of physicians dropped from 11% to 6% once they implemented Electronic Medical Records.

However, this idea of electronic documentation was opposed by many physicians as they thought the application would require more bug fixing. For this reason, EMR Vendors are trying hard to make it user-friendly and usability oriented. Therefore, leading Electronic Medical Records Vendors have come up with all-in-one Cloud EMR technology that integrates Electronic Medical Records, Patient Portal, Medical Billing Services, and Practice Management Software. In most cases, these services are compatible with each other and therefore, could be accessed simultaneously from the same server.

Cloud EMR technology gives physicians the ease of always staying connected with their patients. This technology complies with the industry standards and ensures the protecting of the data. Certainly, Cloud EMR technology will bring about the expected changes in the way practice taken.

Choosing an EMR: The Checklist – Part 2

I concluded my last blog on the subject of all-in-one Electronic Medical Records (EMR) solutions that are available in the market today. Physicians are already occupied in their busy schedules and they barely have time to first implement and then learn two separate applications. Hence, choosing an all-in-one solution becomes the most appropriate option. These solutions integrate EMR and practice management software in a single, affordable package. This resolves the issue of affordability and mitigates the problems associated with managing different applications.

“My all-in-one EMR solution is not only innovative but also affordable. From documenting clinical encounters to performing billing operations, I can do it all from a single platform. In fact, it is so affordable that even a solo provider could afford to automate practice workflows”, says a Michigan based physician.

Moving on, since patient engagement is one of the pressing issues whose significance can be comprehended by its inclusion in the meaningful use stage 2 requirements, physicians should always check if the vendors offering EMRs also provide patient portals. While many vendors would claim to offer such services, in reality only some of them truly provide it. Certification is another important aspect that should not be neglected at any cost. Before choosing an EMR, physicians should make sure that they are opting for a certified EMR which would eventually help them qualify for the government’s financial incentives.

With the availability of specialty centric EMR solutions, depending on the specialties, physicians should choose an appropriate EMR. According to reports, a specialty specific EMR could bring a significant improvement in physician productivity. Physicians should also choose an EMR that offers customization. By using easily customizable templates and components, physicians can document patient notes as they please, without getting into the hassle of superfluous documentation.

Technology is evolving with every passing day, and EMRs have come a long way to provide features like point and click technology, clinical decision support system, and transcription etc. You do not buy an EMR every other day; hence whenever you make such a decision make sure it encompasses these advanced features and is worth your buck.

Keeping confidential patient information secure is certainly a priority for every physician. With increasing incidents of information theft, physicians should make sure that their chosen system ensures compliance with appropriate security protocols, such as data encryption and role based access. Lastly, physicians should also make sure if the EMR allows secure sharing of information across multiple locations or not and also whether the system allows more than one person to simultaneously access the records or not.


Choosing an EMR: The checklist – Part 1

Although Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has been available in the market for quite some time, some physicians still find it hard to choose the right EMR solution for their practices. The plethora of EMR vendors have exposed physicians to a lot of options to choose from, but unfortunately, it is either a lack of homework on part of physicians or a clear vision that hampers their decision making while selecting the appropriate EMR for their practice.

“While buying any product, it is always better to have a wide range of options so that one can pick up the best fit. However, since EMR is a long term investment that physicians make, it is highly essential that physicians should be clear about what they require”, says a New York based health IT consultant.

According to surveys, the most important thing that causes a problem for some physicians while choosing EMR is that they barely concentrate on asking the vendor about the product details. Along with various other things, they fail to comprehend their needs and requirements which ultimately affect their choices. Hence, I thought I would write a blog on what major queries should be answered before choosing a particular EMR.

Starting from one of the major concerns, that is vendor reputation. If your EMR vendor is a trusted name in the market then go for it. Number of users of a particular product could be one of the proxies to gauge vendor reputation. It could be established that the number of users is directly proportional to the vendor image. EMR usability is also an important question. Since physicians are not trained IT professionals they should always look for an EMR that is easy to use. EMR that is user friendly would not only result in reducing the hassles but also in saving a lot of time that could have been wasted in learning an intricate system. It is always suggested to choose a cloud based EMR system. These solutions not only eliminate the trouble related with conventionally hosted servers, but also reduce the overheads of support, maintenance, and upgrades etc. Moreover, storing, retrieving, and accessing information is much easier in cloud EMRs as compared to the conventional ones.

It is recommended that instead of choosing EMR that is not incorporated with a practice management system and patient portal, physicians should opt for an all-in-one solution. Doing so would allow them to manage both clinical and non-clinical operations from a single platform along with ensuring better patient engagement.

This surely is an extensive topic and one could come up with a lot of other important key points. However, I choose to conclude this blog here and write more on the same topic, covering all-in-one solutions and various other aspects in the next part.


Practice Management Software – What Physicians are Missing Out on?

Although the availability of internet and media has played a vital role in creating the awareness about health IT applications like Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Practice Management. However, some physicians even today seem to have limited or no knowledge about such solutions. While one can expect physicians being familiar with EMRs, generalizing the fact about practice management software would not be appropriate.

“Although the technology has been out there for quite some time now, not every physician is fully knowledgeable about practice management software. There are various reasons to it. Nevertheless, the increasing trend of practice management adoption illustrates that physicians are taking the matter seriously”, says a New York based health IT consultant.

Increasing number of patient visits is obviously a sign of augmenting profitability for a practice. However, this is only possible if the productivity and efficiency of the physician is not questioned. Practice management helps physicians address the aforementioned issues by automating the administrative and financial workflows of the practice. Physicians who once spent a lot of time staying engulfed in huge piles of paper, can now do it all with just a few clicks. Some physicians fail to understand that the time they spend in managing paper records and getting into the hassle of billing efficiencies could be easily saved by implementing practice management. The time saved could then be used to ensure better patient engagement and better care quality. Besides various other advantages, fewer patient complaints and increasing profitability would surely be the two most evident benefits.

Since we’re on the subject of billing issues, it reminds me that one of the major problems for physicians is never ending account receivables. Since they are not running charities, being paid for the services provided and that too in a timely manner is obviously going to be a preference. Practice management software helps physicians streamline the billing operations in a jiffy. It also helps physicians recover the outstanding receivables, which may have occurred because of human errors in real time.

One of the plausible reasons why some physicians do not take the matter seriously is the misconception that practice management software requires one to be equipped with extensive IT related knowledge. However, renowned EMR vendors understand that IT is not the area of expertise for physicians. This is why, while offering practice management software, they keep usability their top priority; not to forget, affordability too.


Patient Portal – Keeping you Tuned

With so many changes taking place around us, even the healthcare industry is transforming by going paperless. Even after spending hours in sorting paper work, physicians used to find themselves drowning in a sea of administrative errors due to poor communication with their practice staff along with their patients. This gave rise to a spiral of problems which pulled physicians away from their practice. In a survey conducted by different EMR vendors, it was found that physicians desperately needed better care coordination with patients. Therefore, many EMR vendors have integrated Patient Portals with EMR systems.

Patient Portal ensures patient-physician connectivity at all times, improving the overall patient experience while ensuring better care delivery. It simplifies clinical tasks by treating patient queries according to their level of priority, thereby eliminating paper hassles and irrelevant concerns. Furthermore, Patient Portal provides connectivity round the clock, which means that patients can schedule their appointments online and can get copies of their reports directly from the system. Instant communication also improves the patient-provider association; making patients more comfortable in discussing their problems more openly.

“My research indicated that patients demand online connectivity with physicians and that availability of information online helps patients manage their health better, thus, reducing the number of complaints. For that matter, if I see myself as a patient, I would certainly be more comfortable if my reports are on my computer screen at all times”, says a health IT consultant.

Patient Portal is not only useful for patients, as physicians need to stay connected with their patients as well. Through an online portal, patients are intimated about clinical and administrative alerts, which reduce the chance of human errors to a bare minimum. In addition to this, Patient Portal brings down the overhead costs, streamlines workflows and ensures compliance with industry standards. As a consequence, the level of patient satisfaction is increased by many folds, along with the quality of healthcare.

Keeping these requirements in mind, it is justifiable to consider all-in-one cloud EHR solutions that are provided by some established EHR vendors. Instead of signing up for different solutions like EHR, Patient Portal, Medical Billing System and Practice Management Software separately, physicians can now easily avail them in a unified package. Therefore, such solutions are gaining immense importance due to the same reason.


The Health IT Duo – part 2: EMR and Practice Management System

Clinical and administrative workflows are two of the most integral parts within the healthcare continuum. Keeping anyone out of the loop means breaking a link in the chain. Where Electronic Medical Records (EMR) were introduced to simplify clinical documentation and ensure better care delivery on part of physicians, the health IT product vendors also never backed out from helping providers efficiently manage their administrative and financial operations through the use of practice management systems.

The health IT industry is enormous. Even with EMRs physicians have a wide range of choices available to them. From free EMRs to specialty EMRs, established product vendors are trying to make every possible move to keep the competitors from capturing market share. In fact, some renowned EMR vendors have also developed all-in-one solutions which unify EMR and Practice Management system within a single package. This provides physicians an option to streamline patient encounters as well as manage the billing operations from a single platform. This is exactly what physicians always required from a health IT application.

“It gets really interesting when, every time after completing the clinical procedures and documenting them, you don’t have to change the device so that you can get started with the financial operations. One, it saves time, and two, it eliminates the barriers that hamper the productivity by inundating physicians too much into the application”, says a California based physician.

Ever since their inception, practice management systems have come a long way to provide physicians with all the essentials to manage administrative workflows – keeping both the front and back office always connected.

While free EMRs provided physicians with the luxury of saving monetary costs, the lack of integration made opting separate practice management system completely inevitable. Not only this enhanced the burden of financial costs for physicians but also the augmented the hassles of switching screens, or even the devices in some cases. No wonder, despite having free EMRs, some physicians showed resentment towards technology. Basically the problem is, there have been instances in which some of the free EMRs have failed to be free in true sense.

However, after understanding physicians’ requirements and analyzing their own situation in the market, established EMR vendors have not only started working on the integration issues in EMRs but also improve the functionalities of practice management systems.