The Successful Electronic Health Records Implementation


The Successful Electronic Health Records Implementation

Finding the right partner

Use services like KLAS to find top-rated vendors.

Is the EHR certified?

Does the EHR adapt to my workflow?

Will the new solution fit my budget?

Planning the implementation

Use a detailed project plan that lays out tasks and milestones clearly.

Leverage your partner’s expertise to bridge the gap between your current state and best

Practice. Read more

5 EHR Infographics that every provider must read


EHRs are an important element of the healthcare market. It is vital to realize the importance of EHRs and the direction the entire industry is headed in. With the help of info-graphics it is easier to show marketing trends, the following article will show you some of the best info-graphics relating to healthcare, ranging from subjects like; when to get a new EHR? What share do different vendors in the market hold? Does technology really improve the way a practice is run? Find out with below amongst many other important subjects.

1) Electronic Health Records Infographic

How do electronic health records (EHRs) connect you and your doctor? In the past, medical data was only stored on paper, making it difficult for your health care providers to share your information. Read more

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2) The 20 Most Popular EHR Software Solutions

As the deadline for implementation in the U.S. draws near, talk of electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR) software is a hot topic at the doctor’s office lately. These systems assist medical practitioners in the creation, storage, and organization of electronic medical records, including patient charts, electronic prescriptions, lab orders, and evaluations (just to name a few common features).  Read more

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3) Why are EHR users replacing EHR SOFTWARE?

 This infographic created for Honeywell depicts the top reasons why hospitals and medical practices are replacing their EHR software. See more

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4) 11 indicators that you need a new EHR

Often so deeply immersed in looking for ways to make their practice more efficient, physicians sometimes fail to see the most obvious hurdle preventing this very process from occurring; their EHR. If your Electronic Health Record (EHR) solution is not up to the mark, you might be losing out on precious profits, and incurring costs that you can easily overcome. Read more

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5) The Convergence of Big Data and EHR Infographic

“In the next 10 years, data science and software will do more for medicine than all of the biological sciences together,” said venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. Data science holds great promise for patient health, but patient data is only actionable in so far as it is digital. Read more

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Why and how must you immediately begin preparations for the ICD-9 to ICD-10 conversion?


Last year, the much debated ICD-9 to ICD-10 conversion deadline was delayed another year and set to October 1, 2015. However, numerous provider groups and stakeholders have been pushing for another delay, which would be the third in total, stating that the conversion will result in unmanageable financial pressure on the already challenged practices.

This article summarizes how ICD-10 differs from ICD-9, what the Congress had to say about the deadline, and in what way must you prepare for the conversion.

CureMD ICD-9 Into ICD-10

The new codes

The first question that most providers have is about the specific changes in the code sets. Here’s a summary:

* 68,000 diagnosis codes as opposed to just 13,000 in ICD-9

* A maximum 7 alphanumeric characters per code as opposed to 3-5 in ICD-9

* Very specific, more complex, and more flexible codes

* Lateral codes as well (different codes for right and left)

* 87,000 procedure codes as opposed to 3,000 in ICD-9

* 7 alphanumeric procedure code characters in contrast to 3-4 numbers in ICD-9

* With detailed methodology descriptions, procedure approach mechanisms, more detail, and flexibility

The Meeting

Last week, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a public forum to discuss the ICD-10 deadline. The meeting panel comprised of experts and stakeholders from across the industry, and included doctors and EHR vendors.

The Response

Despite opposition from a few stakeholders who held the view that small practices wouldn’t be able to manage the new codes, the majority voted in support of the October 1 deadline.

The way forward

The response by the congress via the meeting is clearly tilted towards ensuring that the deadline holds. If you were anticipating a delay, and haven’t yet started working on the conversion; you can still manage. Here’s how:

  1. Contact your EMR and Practice Management vendor and enquire your system’s readiness for the conversion. Ensure that their software possesses the necessary updates and ICD-9 to ICD-10 conversion mapping tools to make certain that your system is ready for, and will facilitate the conversion.
  2. In the case that your vendor is not ready, immediately begin looking for a new system. This is because from October 1, your claims will not be processed on ICD-9 codes.
  3. Delegate an ICD-10 expert (from you staff, or hire a professional) to train your staff, and to devise and execute plan for the conversion in line with your practice workflows.
  4. Consider Outsourcing Medical Billing if your ICD-10 expert (and yourself) feel that your current staff will not be able to manage claims processing on the new code set.
  5. Get in touch with payers and clearinghouses to determine their readiness.

The target for completing these steps (apart from staff training which could be ongoing) should ideally be March 15.

  1. Next, you must begin internal testing of the new codes between March and April, to check how well your staff will manage the new codes. Ideally you should be done by this till the end of June at maximum; and make the necessary workflow adjustments to fix errors in which the process proceeds.
  2. After internal testing in June, you need to begin external testing with clearinghouses and payers to determine how well your test claims (with ICD-10 codes) will do once out of your practice.

It is imperative to identify and correct any slow or disruptive processes in every stage of your conversion process. Doing so will enhance the efficiency of your practice, and help make certain that you are ready and equipped for the ICD-9 to ICD-10 conversion by October 1.

5 Ways Affordable Care Act Affects Reimbursement


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enters the mature phase of its implementation, which is going to impact physician revenue in different ways – some favorable, others not much. Therefore, it is time for physicians to prepare for challenges ahead.  Here are 5 ways that the ACA will impact your income in the years to come.

Extra services covered in insurance

According to the ACA, more services will be covered by insurances that were not covered previously. This step has gained immense support because “patients who have insurance and access to primary care have better health outcomes,” said Jeffrey Cain, MD, President of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Now patients won’t have to pay from their pockets for medical services like blood pressure checkup, mammography, childhood and autism screenings, and contraception.

CureMD- Affordable Care Act

Increase in patient volume

More and more Americans will be insured in the years ahead and looking for primary and eventually specialty care. This means primary care practitioners can now enroll new patients bringing more money. However, most of these patients will come from low-income families, who will be insured on subsidized rates and pay out of pocket.

Increase in out-of-pocket payment patients

Practitioners will be forced to rethink their patient payment policies because of changes in the ACA that will increase the trend of out-of-pocket charges. Kaiser Family Foundation found out in a survey that 72% of employees had a deductible for single coverage, which was 20% more from 2006. It further reported that annual deductible for 72% of employees was $1,097 in 2012, which was 88% higher since 2006.

Rise in penalties will impact reimbursements

CMS incentive programs, Meaningful Use and Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), will reduce or stop payments from 2015. Meanwhile, physicians who haven’t complied with the programs will bear financial penalties.

From fee-for-service to pay-for-performance model

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are a breath of fresh air for the physicians trying to decrease cost without compromising quality. This new payment model, pay-for-performance, was introduced to maximize the benefits for patients to improve quality of care while reducing costs. However, as the Model matures, physicians will be required to report their performance to CMS in order to participate in the shared savings.

Why EHR customer satisfaction is the highest among big groups?


The health IT market is flooded with government certified EHRs to meet the Meaningful Use program. The task is to find out the right medical vendor that fulfills practice requirements. This is particularly difficult for small to medium practices, as it appears vendors pay more attention to providing flawless services to large practices. According to Black Book Rankings 2014 Survey, practices having 25 or more physicians are more satisfied with vendor customer support than practices catering to small/medium groups.(2-5, 6-25). Among the respondents, 90.2% of physicians from large practices reported satisfaction with their vendors as compared to 72.5% of physicians from small or medium sized practices.

One of the major reasons is the vendor resources that do not allow them to give proper attention to small practices. Health IT is a competitive market where large practices and hospitals are major buyers of technology. They drive the health IT market by creating technology demand for huge infrastructures. With sufficient financial backup to implement an EHR system, they partner with vendors for a long period. Similarly, vendors prefer to utilize their limited resources on big projects that promise maximum revenue. By doing so, they usually miss the opportunity to create loyal customers among small practices and provide most of their customer support to physicians in large practices, as highlighted by the Black Book Rankings 2014

Another reason for dissatisfaction among small practices is related to their efforts in vendor search and implementation of EHR. It’s fair to suggest that part of the blame is on the physicians with small practices. Instead of conducting a thorough research of the market, they rush into buying the first EHR they come across [EHR buyer tips]. On the contrary, large practices take their time in understanding the market, the products they offer, strengths and reputation of vendors and demands of their practice before selecting the right vendor. For them, it’s a business partnership that can only work when the vendor fulfills its side of bargain with impeccable technology and customer support.

However, one cannot blame small practices entirely for lack of customer support on the vendor’s part. Ideally, it’s the vendor’s responsibility to provide customer support during the implementation and post implementation phase of EHR. Before signing a contract with a new practice, vendors should make analysis of their available resources and capabilities, so that the customer does not have to suffer in the long run.

Narrowing down your EHR options


Adopting an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is no longer an option, but an obligation. If your practice does not do so, you’ll be subject to penalties that will increase as time progresses.

Additionally, you will be deprived of the incentive payments that many of your competitors are benefiting from. However, with several hundred EHR vendors to select from, you require an EHR pricing and vendor comparison to make the right decision.

While the most important component of most decisions is price and costing, you still must develop an initial plan to determine which EHR vendor is appropriate including the how-much-will-it-cost-me component.

First you need to limit the number of vendors on your option base. For doing so, you will first need to identify several vendors based on your personal knowledge, market research and on recommendations of other physicians.

Look at the software and hardware their systems require. For example, a server-based system will require more hardware. Additionally, many of the leading vendors have EHR solutions that do not require installable software and can be accessed via internet. So first, you need to be sure of the solution you require.

Once this comparison is done, you should narrow down your options by a more specific EHR software assessment. In this, you’ll analyze specific features that you require in your EHR. Which vendor is ready for ICD-10 and Meaningful Use Stage 2 certified, for example. Also do some research on other services offered by these vendors; common techniques for this are via rating and review websites, asking other healthcare professionals and by visiting the vendors’ websites. For example how efficient their customer service is and if they have integrated systems (if you require practice management solutions as well).

Now with your options even more limited, conduct an EHR pricing comparison to determine which vendor has solutions that meet your budget. During this stage, include all costs such as those needed for the implementation, average staff training costs and any potential cost that you can think of.

Meaningful Use criteria for Eligible Professionals (EPs)


In order to avail government incentives for Meaningful Use program, eligible professionals (EPs) would have to demonstrate that they have been using their electronic health records (EHRs) according to the criteria of meaningful use program. Physicians would have to successfully attest to the program in order to qualify for government incentives program, administered by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

EPs who have just adopted EHRs would not have to attest for meaningful use program in their first year of implementation, but without later attestation they won’t be eligible for government incentives.

Meaningful Use criteria

The first criterion to fulfill in order to achieve meaningful use is to adopt a government certified EHR system. The certified software should be interoperable and have ICD-10 coding system. The software should have a patient portal to engage patients for informed and improved healthcare. This is required under the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs, which is run under by the CMS.

The objectives and criteria for the meaningful use program have been divided into three different stages that will span over five years period. The objectives are further divided into core and menu, of which core objectives should be fulfilled. However, there is option for EPs to meet any criteria in the menu set.

In meaningful use stage 1, EPs should have certified EHRs, use it to record clinical and non-clinical data of patients, share information with necessary stakeholders and patients. The meaningful use stage 2  [whitepaper] requires EPs to be more rigorous about health information data, while the third stage focuses on the efficiency and quality of data shared and improved patient care.