5 questions to ask in the EHR market

It is absolutely important to select the right Electronic Health Record (EHR) system for your practice. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive solution out there in the market, nor the biggest vendor that is offering the solution. Selecting the ‘right’ EHR solution is crucial to the success of technology working the way it has been designed. Sometimes, a small EMR vendor with a clear path to development, innovation and vision for the future can be more beneficial for your practice rather than a big corporation which is not doing enough to keep up pace with the industry challenges.Question Mark

One such vendor which excels in terms of leadership, innovation and design is CureMD. Click here to schedule a free, LIVE demo and see how the product works.

So what are the questions you should ask from vendors when you are in the market looking to buy an EHR system? Let’s give you some.

How will it work with existing scheduling, practice management and lab systems?

One of the first and foremost questions is how well the EHR you are looking to buy will integrate with your current scheduler, practice management, billing and lab order systems. If the technology you are buying does not integrate with your current software or does not offer you better alternatives, then you should keep on looking for another one.

What is the amount of training and support offered by default?

Most EHR vendors promise training and support for free with their EHR systems. However, it is limited in nature and once the system is implemented, the free training and support runs out. Make sure you ask the vendor about the amount of training and support offered when you purchase an EHR system.

Who will customize the system to work with existing workflow?

Another important question that you should be looking to ask the EHR vendor is who will take responsibility of customizing the system to work with current workflows. It is important for the EHR vendor to understand the time constraints you may have and be able to deploy it effectively.

What is the typical response time?

Check with the EHR vendor about their typical response time should you develop any issues after the implementation of the system.

Can the provider show a demo for a similar sized specialty?

Most important of all, you must ask the EHR vendor to give you a live demo of the product, possibly with a same sized practice and specialty as yours. This will be crucial as it will give you an indication of how good or bad the system is when put to use in real life.


The Meaningful Use dropout rate—what does it mean?

The year 2012 saw a huge increase in the users of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, but at the same time, the retention rate dropped dramatically from 2011. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) report, in 2011 only 11,578; and in 2012, 9,188 family physicians attested to the Meaningful Use program. It is a huge dropout of around 21 percent drop, in terms of participation.

Has your practice registered for 2013? Hospitals currently participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must complete registration and attestation for fiscal year 2013 according to the Hospital Attestation Deadline of November 30. Will the dropout rate continue this year? Let’s have a look into the factors which led to Meaningful Use dropout rate in 2012; and how your practice can avoid this.meaningful use

It is quite surprising that providers are dropping out because the incentives will continue to decrease in the coming years. Unfortunately, if the trend continues, only a few number of providers would have actually benefitted completely from the EHR incentive program.

It seems physicians need a motivational push to remain committed to the incentive program. Government initiated a campaign through Regional Extension Centers (RECs) in the first year (2011) to get physicians on board. RECs were provided incentives but they were not given any benefit for the next year (2012) to retain the number of registered physicians. As a result, the effort put by RECs were reduced to a sudden burst in the number of family physicians registering for the EHRs, but a negative retention rate of MU participants was witnessed in the next year.

The growing trend to replace the EHR software may very well be one reason of the MU dropout ratio. Providers, who are dissatisfied by their current EHR system, turn to replacing the system and with the latest technology available they can do so, but the implementation process takes time. The provider may well need time to train their staff and get accustomed to the use of the software. This results in missing the important date of registration.

Some physicians must’ve missed the attesting time for 2012 because of the carelessness on their part or simply the fact that information providing organizations like RECs or EHR vendors were not active enough to inform providers on the revenue they will miss upon if they did not attest. It is a mistake on the part of the provider, and failure on the part of the informants.

EHR vendors will be very active this year, because of the negative report. They should make sure this time that modify their software in a way that has efficient MU attestation dates reporting capabilities. A real-time MU reporting tool can help the practice remain on MU incentive track. When providers start relying on software, they expect their software to do everything for them. So, providers should demand such functionality from their vendors to be on track.

But wait CMS has its own plans, too. Drop rate will reduce and retention rate will improve, how? It aims to charge penalties for those providers who are unable to meet MU status by the year 2015. It wants to push forward with MU Stage 3, and for that it wants as many providers as possible on board.


Can more clinicians solve shortage of primary care physicians?

As a generally accepted rule, shortage of primary care providers is met by training more of them. However, looking at the problem in a different way – as a mismatch between the demand for primary care services and the system’s capacity to meet that demand – may result in faster and more cost-efficient results.primary care

One product which can help primary care physicians in improving their workflows largely is the “All-in-One” Cloud by CureMD. Click here to learn more.

Experts argue that the supply-demand gap for primary care services can be reduced by making better use of existing resources like primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, medical assistants and health coaches.

Reassigning these resources can significantly improve primary care practices’ ability to meet patient needs in preventive, chronic and acute care. As per research, 17% of an average family practitioner’s time is spent on preventive care such as cancer screenings, immunizations and counseling.

Medical science has come a long way. It is allowing patients to perform many services themselves which earlier required a clinician such as home pregnancy tests, HIV tests, blood sugar checks, glucose monitoring, etc.

As technology continues to open new avenues of delivering healthcare in the industry, the future looks very promising. Soon enough, computers could be programmed to provide primary care to the patients and even be able to process medication refills for patients with diabetes, hyperlipidemia or hypertension.primary cares

The US faces a shortage of 90,000 primary care physicians by 2020 and 130,000 by 2025, as per the Association of American Medical Colleges. This is primarily the reason why there is growing concern among the healthcare regulatory authorities and physicians alike about the shortfall. The need of the hour is to tap the nation’s unused primary care capacity in a way that it is able to address the expected shortage. Technology will play a huge part towards achieving that as it can make the impossible, possible.


Three things to minimize challenges of Meaningful Use

Most physicians are using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in the country to help them meet regulatory requirements, achieve Meaningful Use and improve quality of care delivered. However, the second objective, Meaningful Use, has been a tricky concept and with the introduction of Stage 2, it is becoming even more complex for providers.mu

One such product which is ready for Meaningful Use is “All-in-One” Cloud by CureMD.

While achievement of Meaningful Use may be a challenge, it can be an opportunity to improve business and enrich patient relationships. We are enlisting three things that you can do to minimize the challenges Meaningful Use presents.

1.       Evaluate your situation: First and foremost, each practice has its own varied challenges and the readiness to achieve Meaningful Use is different from one another. Each practice needs to know the requirements for Stages 1, 2 and 3 and how does achievement of those objectives align with the practice goals.

2.       Develop a plan: After analyzing practice objectives with regards to achievement of Meaningful Use, there needs to be a concrete plan as to how they will be achieved. Practices need to know their workflow from patient recruitment to examination and retention. They also need to be aware why achievement of patient engagement is important to them. When you make a comprehensive plan, it will be easier to implement throughout your practice and get you ready to achieve Meaningful Use.

3.       Use a certified EHR system: One of the most important things to achieving Meaningful Use is to use a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. In case you are not using one, you need to make a very careful EHR adoption decision. Some of the vendors out there will not help you achieve MU while others may not have support for future stages of the system.

While achievement of Meaningful Use is a challenge, it is largely an opportunity to reinvigorate practice business opportunities. 


Ideal features for the next generation EHR

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are shaping the future of the healthcare industry in more than one way. They allow physicians to improve their workflows, reduce inefficiency and save time while on the other hand, help improve patient satisfaction, engagement and promote self-service. EHRs also make it really easy for government authorities to keep a close check on the industry and exercise better control over it. They allow for better data reporting, more streamlined analytics and better reporting for those who are managing large practices.

One of the industry leaders when it comes to Electronic Health Records is CureMD.

Let’s take a look at some of the ideal features for next generation EHRs.

  1. Compliance: Next generation EHRs are able to comply with latest government regulations and requirements. They are able to support the implementation of ICD-10 and help practices meet Meaningful Use requirements.
  2. Ideal support: Most EHR vendors suffer from poor after-sales support. Users of the product are not satisfied with the support and training provided by their vendors. However, an ideal EHR excels in this area and is always willing to help.
  3. No software maintenance: Next generation Electronic Health Record (EHR) software is based on the model of cloud computing and do not require any software maintenance. The EHR vendor automatically updates the software from the back end and no front end changes are required.
  4. Complete security: Modern day EHRs are equipped with state-of-the-art security and encryption features which prevent hackers and intruders from accessing vital patient data.
  5. Electronic prescribing: The most ideal EHRs of present day and age are equipped with the facility of e-Prescribing which makes it easy for physicians to send prescriptions just with a few clicks to any of the supporting pharmacies.

These are some of the features of an ideal, next generation Electronic Health Record software which are transforming the industry in a way like never before.


What are the key EHR training strategies?

Training is the central part of EHR adoption. The challenging part lies in creating a smooth process for the providers and staff in which the result of the training is positive. EHR features can be difficult to understand for doctors. But just like any other software, the duly required labor will produce favorable results.

The list of three key training strategies is given below. Let’s have a quick peek at them.

Online or onsite—Every individual trains differently. The EHR vendor should allow the flexibility of either training online or onsite. It should be selected by the EHR vendor or by the special request of the practice, at their desired location. Likewise, the practice should categorize the type of learners it has, and then allow the training to start. By doing this simple exercise before the start of the course, the learning process will get a boost resulting in an efficient usage of time. Remember, the less the practice pays, the better it is. The goal should be to make your workers skilled in using EHR as soon as possible.

Variety in training materials—A key EHR training strategy is the use of wide range of learning material. The learning method or process can at times become boring. One of the faults that should be avoided is the whiteboard method in which the instructor keeps on speaking and writing on the whiteboard. Involving the audience by giving one to two pages with graphical instructions at the start can be extremely helpful. Using screenshots of the processes that a practice may encounter in using an EHR can be helpful too. It speeds up the process of learning. The presentations or key materials used should be emailed to the respective attendees at the end of the EHR training session.

Interaction—One key feature of EHR training is interaction between the trainer and the trainee. The instructor of EHR should engage the audience with his verbal acumen; and should make the whole technical lingo easy to grasp. It is best to make use of some light moments with the audience; the trainer should narrate the awkward or funny moments he had encountered in previous training sessions. By doing so, the audience will become more relaxed. Asking questions from the audience is an important strategy to judge the comprehensive level and also helps to recall the lecture.

By applying a strategic approach to EHR training, the practice can save time and energy. It allows for the staff and providers to perform as a team. It helps in facing the challenge of adopting the EHR, a relatively smooth process.


How to tell if you need a new EHR system?

According to Black Book Rankings survey 2013, nearly 80% of US physicians are dissatisfied with their current Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. The reasons for their dissatisfaction include the systems being clunky, difficult to use, boring, not interoperable, not compliant to regulatory requirements and the like. But can the physicians do something to make their current systems work? Is replacing the current EHR systems the only viable solution? Can the current EHR vendor upgrade or improve the system?

Let’s give you a few tips through which the need for a new EHR system or otherwise can be gauged.


Interoperability is the future of healthcare industry. If the current EHR software is not able to meaningfully connect with other entities in the healthcare delivery model, the current vendor needs to be questioned about their ability to make it work. If the vendor is not able to make the required changes in the software or cannot provide interoperability, then it is time to move on.

Regulatory changes

The government is regularly updating the regulatory requirements for the healthcare IT industry. The implementations of ICD-10 and Meaningful Use 2 are two very important changes that are taking place for the users. In case the current vendor is unable to upgrade its system to meet the regulatory requirements for the practice, then it may be time to look for alternatives.

Data security

Complete security of patient data is of crucial importance for any EHR user. Recently, there have been many data security lapses as far as patient data is concerned. The government and HIPAA are also frequently addressing the loopholes in the legislation in order to impose stricter fines and penalties on those EHR vendors who are unable to guarantee complete security. It must be made sure that the EHR vendor constantly improves the security protocols related to safety of patient data.

Cost to change

If the cost to change EHR vendors exceeds the future benefits, then it may not be a wise move to make a switch. However, if the current EHR system is hampering productivity, then practices might consider switching to better, robust solutions. Remember, it is always better to partner with a small EHR vendor with a better innovation plan rather than a big EHR vendor with no vision for future.

Patient portal

Patient portals are going to revolutionize the healthcare delivery model by increasing patient engagement to levels where they are able to self-schedule and increase shared decision making. In case the current EHR vendor is unable to equip its product with Patient Portals, then it may be a good decision to move on.

These are some of the important areas which a practice can rely on before deciding if a new EHR system is required.