Why cloud based EHR systems are better?


Healthcare providers all across the nation are shifting to modern Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Some of them are pure cloud-based while others are cloud enabled. True cloud EHR systems have remarkably reduced initial investments on hardware, hosting as well as for ongoing costs such as maintenance, upgrades, etc. Cloud EHR systems also improve accessibility; users can access the systems with just an internet browser from anywhere at any time and would enjoy more benefits then having a locally installed system.

Let’s discuss features of a cloud system.

Flexibility

When a medical organization needs more bandwidth than routine, a cloud-based service can instantly meet the demand because of the vast capacity of the vendor’s remote servers – something that is not possible with server-based systems.

Disaster recovery

When organizations rely on cloud services, they no longer need complicated disaster recovery plans. Cloud computing providers take care of most issues, and they do it faster. There is no need to maintain separate backups.

Automatic updates

Cloud-based EHR suppliers maintain servers and security updates themselves freeing up their customers’ time and resources for other tasks.

No capital investments

There is no need for capital expenditure at all when dealing with cloud-based EHR software. Since cloud systems are much faster to deploy, organizations have minimal project start-up costs and ongoing operating expenses.

Increased collaboration

Cloud computing EHRs increase collaboration by allowing all employees to sync up and work on documents and shared apps simultaneously. They can follow colleagues and records to receive critical updates in real time.

Security

Nearly 800,000 laptops are lost each year in airports alone. This can have some serious monetary implications, but when everything is stored in the cloud, EHR data can still be accessed no matter what happens to a machine.

Scalability and speed

Health enterprises can quickly scale up or scale down their cloud services as per demand, during hours of maximum activity, while launching campaigns, etc. Cloud services are most usually reliable, since many service providers have data centers in multiple locations for keeping the processing near users.

EHRs

How does EHR help improve workflow


EHR stands for Electronic Health Record and its main feature is interoperability: exchanging, sharing, and making use of patient data in variety of formats to be used by healthcare organizations for better decision making purposes. EHR software improves your workflow, this is an understatement because it not only does that but is able to do a lot more. Let’s have a look.workflow

Providers can schedule their patients by using an EHR by automatically allowing the software to manage the scheduling process or by advance scheduling. By doing so, the patient and the practice is informed through alerts of the patient’s revisit or rescheduling.

EHR have the ability to automate clinical workflow of your practice. It makes the slow process of registering patients for lab tests fast. The arrival of results from labs and its accuracy both are maintained through the software. In case of error by the doctor in interpreting the result, or by lab technician, EHR has the capability of informing the practice through its automated error detection system that a mistake has been made. EHR can precisely read and match information provided through lab reports. It is done through built in ICD codes. It reduces the human-error factor in the interpretation of codes.icd

EHR allows your practices’ workflow to improve by providing management systems that deal in real-time. EHR connects healthcare providers and hospitals, across multiple States to instantaneously connect to patients’ data. It allows providers to remain up-to-date with their patient’s condition as he goes from one healthcare provider to another. This exchange is crucial when providers need update on medication and allergy lists of their patient under consideration from another healthcare provider. It is a step forward in the improvement of your workflow because it integrates information that can be used in decision making at the point-of-care.

ObamaCare is pushing EHR as a much valued software that will change healthcare industry. To be very honest, it will take time. EHR definitely improves your practices’ workflow flow but still a lot of training of doctors all across US is needed. The adoption will take time but when EHR vendors deliver result, providers will want to shift.

 

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.

 

Cloud EHR – When Things Start Changing


Electronic Health Records (EHR) vendors are indebted to the guidelines imposed by the HITECH Act in regards to EHR adoption, which helped them capture the market share by encouraging physicians to use EHRs. Thanks to the legislation, physicians have been successful in ensuring the provision of quality care and enhanced patient safety, whereas EHR vendors have witnessed a major increase in sales volume.

Besides the HITECH Act, the requirements and needs of healthcare professionals is an indispensable factor that has helped established EHR vendors to make their mark in the industry. Having said that, it is believed that cloud EHRs have, without any doubt, helped EHR vendors in doing that.

Instant availability of patient records and other important information is a vital need to keep the care continuum intact. Unfortunately, there have been instances in which hosted EHR servers have failed to provide this facility to care providers. Imagine after making an investment of both time and money on learning and implementation of the application, eventually it does not serve the purpose – the end result would be nothing but frustration.

“It’s like you sell an old car to buy a new one, and at the end of the day this new car turns out to be extremely disappointing, something that you had never imagined. When you ask yourself the question whether it was a rational decision, that is when you finally realize your mistake”, says an annoyed, Michigan based physician.

Nevertheless, understanding that physicians require EHRs as a helping hand, established vendors introduced the cloud EHR. Cloud technology allows physicians to store, access, and retrieve patient information and related data from practically anywhere, at any time. It is because of cloud EHRs that physicians who once got agitated and wanted to step back to paper based documentation, ultimately changed their minds.

By allowing easy and secure access, cloud EHRs make patient data imperishable. Since all the information is stored online, the chances of physical damage are completely eliminated.

There are some physicians, especially solo providers or the ones operating small practices, who have this misconception that EHRs require an enormous monetary investment. Fortunately, established EHR vendors understand that not every physician has a bag full of dollars to finance such costly EHRs. Hence, they made sure that while introducing cloud EHRs, they considered the concern of affordability into account as well.

The HIPPA Violations Story


While there is obvious value in health information digitization, there exists a strong question of security concerns too. Before Electronic Health Records (EHR), it had been fairly simple for healthcare organizations. All they had to do was dedicate a secure room for patient records and hire a filer! Now, with EHRs and more importantly HIEs, patient data is exposed to both physical and cyber theft or unauthorized disclosures, and such occurrences result in violations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

HIPPA was created to provide standards on secure electronic information exchange between healthcare professionals through EHRs. The act revolves around two essential objectives. The provision of personal health information to patients on request is the first, while giving patients the right to apply restrictions on the use or disclosure of patient health information is the second. Failure to comply with the aforementioned objectives on part of healthcare providers leads to HIPAA violations – ultimately resulting in penalties worth millions of dollars or even imprisonment.

According to official reports, a reputable Health Management Organization (HMO) had to pay $4.3 million in penalties as a result of HIPAA violations. It is said that the organization not only refused to provide a number of patients with their health information records, but also failed to cooperate during the investigation. Ensuring the privacy on patient information is another major concern of HIPAA. Be it a virtual breach, illegal disclosure or even physical theft of information, it is the provider or the practice that is responsible to face the consequences. According to another official report, a hospital made a settlement of $1 million for losing patient information on a subway.

Having shed some light on the financial penalties, let’s take a look at the imprisonment cases. The criminal penalties could be divided under three major categories, which are as follows:

1. Knowingly obtaining or disclosing identifiable patient information would result in one year imprisonment ($50,000 fine).

2. Gaining patient information under false facade would result in one year imprisonment ($100,000 fine).

3. Obtaining patient information for personal gain or to support malicious intent would result in ten years imprisonment ($250,000 fine).

Another incident reported in official reports states that an employee for Miami hospital was sentenced two years imprisonment as a result of stealing patient information and selling it as part of identity theft conspiracy.

The aforementioned incidents are explicit evidences of the fact that HIPAA likes to be taken seriously. While both EHR technology and information exchange standards have been around for a while now, there is much need for awareness on the use of EHRs and security of patient information.

Why choose a cloud EHR?


One of the greatest dilemmas that physicians face while choosing the right Electronic Health Records (EHR) is whether to opt for a cloud based EHR, or an on-site locally hosted EMR.  With a wide array of choices available to physicians, cloud EHRs are by far considered to be the most efficient and cost effective EHR solution in the market. Having witnessed the implementation trends, it’s easy to establish that cloud electronic health records have also solved the issues of affordability and integration for providers.

The tiresome process of implementation has discouraged many physicians from adopting electronic health records. However, with the introduction of cloud EHRs, the implementation requires only an internet connection to begin with. In fact, these solutions have allowed physicians to store, retrieve, and access patient information from virtually anywhere, at anytime – eliminating the need of end user installation and eradicating the requirement for secondary servers.

“Technology is meant to simplify the complications associated with workflow management; cloud EHRs serve the exact purpose for physicians. Moreover, these solutions also help physicians from incurring additional costs. There is a reason why cloud electronic health records are considered to be cost effective”, says a California based health IT consultant.

Security of patient information is not only vital to provide quality care at the right time, but also to meet the government’s regulatory standards. Many healthcare bodies and providers have been penalized as a result of losing patient data. However, cloud EHRs can definitely aid in significantly reducing the probability of such occurrences. Since the data is stored on internet servers, physical theft of the device would not lead to data loss.

Let’s talk about the idea of integration. Today, some of the established EHR vendors provide a complete cloud EHR suite with integrated practice management and patient portal. Physicians no longer need to have separate tools for clinical, administrative and billing operations. The integrated cloud EHRs allow physicians to simultaneously address the clinical needs using EHR and administrative needs using Practice management, without even switching devices or changing interfaces.

The mechanism is simple, once patients’ clinical issues have been scrutinized by the physician; the procedures are automatically reported to the billing modules in the practice management. Now, it’s practice management that helps physicians deal with the financial tasks.

After successfully aiding the financial and banking sectors, cloud technology is persistently serving the healthcare industry. The way cloud electronic health records are helping physicians in ensuring quality care, it seems logical to forecast that cloud EHRs are going to be the next big thing for the upcoming years.

 

EHRs – Breaking the Constraints


The developmental pace of the health IT industry has been astounding. With numerous innovative products making their way into the market, the healthcare industry is headed for an extreme makeover. Healthcare reforms are the need of the hour considering the current economic crisis of the country, as they aim to bring affordable and quality care to every household in the US. The first step has obviously been the promotion of electronic health records. Serving as a cornerstone of healthcare reforms, EHRs will eliminate paper based medical trails while increasing efficiency through clinical decision support and electronic data interchange.

While EHRs have existed for a while now, their objective is significantly different from what it was two decades ago. Created only as a digital repository, EHRs had minimal functionality. Defining features were limited to input control and basic reporting. Today, the EHR is defined by its data mining capabilities. With the healthcare industry focused on population health management, the importance of ‘big data’ utilization is now more than ever.

Keith Smith, a health IT consultant explains that electronic health records (read more) are the platform for change in healthcare, “We are talking about re-inventing the system, introducing performance incentives for physicians and inducing a culture of accountability. We are talking about coordinated care and patient connectivity. We are talking about better care, lesser mistakes, population health and affordable care. To truly be able to transform to such an extent we must digitize healthcare. We must improve information accessibility and enable connectivity. We must move to EHRs.”

The idea is to remove the constraints of paper based system and enable better communication amongst healthcare professionals. Care quality is often determined by the information available to the attending physician. “There have been countless examples whereby physicians had to treat patients in emergency with little or no information, jeopardizing both the patient’s health and their own professional careers. It is a shame we have to go through these dilemmas in the 21st century,” explains a retiring physician from New Jersey. EHRs are designed to bridge this gap in healthcare by creating self sustainable digital health records, accessible to patients and providers across the care continuum.