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


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


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


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


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


5 Hidden Costs to Account for When Budgeting Your EHR Implementation

One of the biggest problems practice owners and provider organizations are running into when implementing EHR systems is unanticipated costs. Learn how and why to budget for this problem by reading on.

First ICD-10, Now This? Getting Your Budget Ready for EHR Implementation

As if the ICD-10 transition was not enough, many practices and providers are being strongly encouraged to also transition to electronic health records (EHRs).

Like ICD-10, EHR implementation promises strong gains in an effort to modernize medicine. For one, the government will provide incentives in the form of increased reimbursements. For another, patient care promises to become more consistent and thorough, particularly when moving from provider to provider.

Regardless of the benefits, the here-and-now of EHR implementation promises to be a challenge. Looking exclusively at the problem of hidden expenses, providers are going to have to budget extra money and time in order to cope with unexpected costs.

Because of the likelihood of this problem, the website recommends adding to your budget with emergency provisions and anticipatory funds. How much? Several years ago in 2012, the Modern Medicine Network recommended squirreling away an additional 50 percent on top of your current expected EHR implementation budget.

That number may not be precise, but providers are going to have to set aside quite a large chunk of change in order to meet budget bloat head on. Here are just some of the things they will need to account for:

EHR Software

Hardware Costs

EHR software needs something to run on, and your organization’s current systems and hardware may not be up to snuff. At the very least, you are likely to invest in a few extra workstations and an increase to your networking capabilities, including an internet bandwidth upgrade.

For many providers, a full-scale replacement of computing systems may be in order. That means new, faster computers and a full suite of networking and application hosting servers, as well as all the wiring and installation costs that come with it.

All said and done, some providers are going to be saddled with a huge bill before they can even run their Best EHR Software. Plenty of others are lucky enough to get away with minimal hardware upgrades, but you have no way of knowing which category you fall into until your software is finally running as it should be.

Estimated added baseline cost: $5,900 on average

IT Staff and Outside Support

Most vendor service contracts include some amount of system support and troubleshooting, especially during the initial installation phase. Even with this help, your organization is likely to need some IT support of their own once the training wheels are removed.

Also consider that some support services are not provided by vendors, or that the support may not be available at all hours. These factors in addition to the inevitable IT staffing upgrade that will occur during full EHR implementation can increase providers’ tech payrolls into the foreseeable future.

Estimated added baseline cost: $3,094 on average


Training the entire staff will be necessary, with separate training goals based on their role within the EHR system. Physicians alone needed two weeks of training before they were able to satisfy the Meaningful Use requirements, according to one study.

On top of that, front-house staff will need to know how to use EHR systems for things like billing and patient registration. You will also need an IT department with many staff members who know the EHR system backwards and forwards. All of these training hours add to lost productivity and overtime wages, the single-most anticipated expense when it comes to labor.

Decreased Patient Loads and Increased Staffing Needs

Every moment spent troubleshooting or learning the EHR system is a moment taken away from patient care. Once implementation is complete, these bumps are expected to smooth out, but full EHR implementation for some organizations could take one to two years.

To make up for the lost productivity, new staff may be needed just to handle the leftover administrative and patient-end responsibilities. The combination in decreased patient loads and increased labor costs is predicted to be the most variable and unpredictable for providers implementing EHR.

Network Security

With more sensitive patient data traveling through their networks, providers are going to have to invest in robust network security solutions and IT expertise so that all that data will be protected. Anyone who fails to do so and who could be found negligent could potentially face HIPAA violation fines.

Conclusion: Form a Contingency Plan, Allocate Extra Budgets, Prepare for the Worst

The purpose of outlining all of these potential costs is not to deepen your despair. Instead, you should take this information to heart and plan positively and proactively by preparing a contingency plan.

Set aside extra budgetary funds that provide for a significant cushion when unexpected costs arise. If you feel like you cannot come up with such a budget, request help from your local Regional Extension Center (REC), which is designed to provide advisory knowledge and support for EHR implementers.

Finally, develop a strategic plan that accounts for setbacks like lost productivity for two or more years into the future. Keep in mind that you may need to upgrade your systems by that point as well.

With all these elements in place, your provider organization should have a substantial safety net to prevent you from falling on your face should you stumble. Remember that everything should get smoother as adoption increases and systems are refined. Many providers and government organizations even expect for EHRs to provide some ROI in the not-too-distant-future. So spend now and be grateful later that you did.

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.

What is it that makes the perfect EMR software, perfect?

A perfect Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software allows you to personalize your quality care delivery, improve your overall quality, improve patient safety and optimize your workflows. The seamless integration of all these systems in your practice and the manner in which they work flawlessly together is what makes a good EMR software perfect.

An ideal EMR software does not only allow you to shift your practice to an IT-based solution, it also allows you to manage your practice with its built-in practice management software. What it does is, it enables you to give more attention and time towards improving patient care and delivery, and reduces your focus on managing every micro-level issue at your practice.

Another great feature of a perfect EMR software is that it enables you to access the system from anywhere. Gone are the days when you had to sit in front of your bulky, space-occupying desktop computer. These days, you can move around in your practice with just a laptop or a tablet and still be able to make decisions through your web-based EMR software as if you were sitting in your office. Even when you are at home, you can literally have access to everything at your practice. This allows you to make sure everything runs flawlessly with your EMR even in your absence.

In addition to these, an ideal EMR software has the ability to interact with all the major laboratories across the country, thereby allowing you to order tests, view results, patient reports, etc. with ease.

Since the time demands superior healthcare services for all and sundry, a perfect EMR software is the one in which you can always rely on patient data that is error-free, updated, and contains everything you need to make decisions about your patient’s health.

It is important not to get carried away with many EMR software in the market which may look good from the outset, but can cause you more problems rather than solving them.


Best EMR checklist

Finding the right EMR for your practice is as important as making the right diagnosis for your patient. If you are feeling a little lost and confused by the options available in the market & the influx of information on vendor websites don’t worry: picking a good solution for your practice is time consuming but not as hard as it seems. This checklist will guide you in making the most suitable EMR choice for your practice. However, please note that this is not a substitute to the initial homework you must do to understand the goals of your practice and how an EMR can help you achieve them.

Established Vendor

EMRs are without doubt a long term investment in your practice. Therefore, the vendor is as important as the product they are selling. Always remember to research the vendor to gauge their stability and longevity in the market – to avoid a situation where you must switch EMRs because your vendor ran out of business. A good starting point for this is independent healthcare review organizations such as KLAS research – providing updated comparative analysis and reports on different vendors.

Similarly, before finalizing an EMR always ask for references specific to your specialty. This way you will have an unbiased view about the system and any customization or usability problems associated with it. It is always wise to know what to expect before you reach the implementation stage and to prepare yourself accordingly.

Multiple Back ups

Computers crash. Papers don’t. One of the chief complaints against EMRs: a system crash completely paralysis the practice workflow causing discomfort to staff and patients alike. To safeguard against this many practices opt for relatively expensive server based systems requiring in house IT staff support rather than the more economical web based option for small practices.  Web based software are not necessarily less reliable than server based systems, provided that you have chosen a quality vendor. In fact, as other studies have indicated web-based systems essentially  mean lower up-front costs, minimal hardware procurement, free upgrades, efficient maintenance and free server repairs. It is also a more cost effective option for small scale practices.  Thus, while looking for an EMR always opt for a product that has multiple backups so that you never lose access to your data no matter what the circumstances.

Remember to ask your EMR consultant about the historic downtime of their product and their disaster preparedness plans.

Customer Support

Usability is an important feature to look for in EMRs. It refers both to the ease of using the software and the quality of support services provided. With the myriad of stakeholders involved in care delivery process, we need to make sure that communication between these stakeholders is smooth. The future of Health IT depends upon the overall integration of healthcare system. We need to think about usability as a perfect connection between technology, use, training and design which enhances our own prospects and potential. We also need to look at technology such as Electronic Medical Records as a usable tool through which we can magnify our potential.

On an average most vendors provide 20 hrs of training on site or off site before a practice goes live. However, care providers or their staff may require additional help after they start using the system. Thus, quality support is a value added service that you should not compromise on while choosing your system.  Cutting cost through outsourcing customer support is a common strategy used by many vendors as it makes perfect business sense for them. However, variation in dialects may serve as a communication hurdle for you. Thus, consider choosing a vendor located in your areas or someone nearby to immediately respond to all your support needs in a timely and effective manner.

Intelligent Billing

Some clients prefer to opt for separate EMR and practice management system. This might seem like a minor thing, but keeping billing integrated with patient information is the best possible way to ensure that you handle billing as efficiently as possible. Thus, an integrated solution that covers clinical, administrative and financial side of the practice is usually the most efficient choice.

These solutions have eligibility verification feature that allows you to verify healthcare coverage, limits and insurance caps of your patient anytime. Most vendors also have the feature to automatically verify eligibility every time an appointment is scheduled reducing the chances of non-payment.

Similarly, the system automatically generates procedure and diagnoses code for billing. In cases where you disagree with the system E&M code calculations, you may use separate values and the system will guide you in supporting documentation so that you do not become a victim of down coding. Thus, reimbursement denials and questions are virtually eliminated streamlining your billing process. You also receive the status of each claim in real time helping you keep track of your payment and to follow up as and when required.

In short, an integrated solution consisting of EMR, practice management and a patient portal beats non integrated (separate) systems hands down.

Data visualization

For a doctor, provider notes may be the make or break feature upon which their buying decision is based. A system with the ability to adapt to your workflow best practices is the best thing that can happen to your practice. A good vendor will try to make the implementation process as painless as possible- which means customizing your existing templates, be intuitive enough to store templates for patients with similar complaints and to allow you to use drop downs, tick boxes or descriptive data entry options depending on your ease.

Some features to look out for that will add value to your practice include:

  • A system that organizes and presents data in the right way can tell important stories about your practice. A personalized dashboard feature for example, gives you a snapshot of information of interest to you. This saves you time.
  • An EMR that shows you a timeline of the patient tagged with their symptoms, medications, lab results, vital signs, and any other pertinent data makes your life easier and ensures that you deliver quality care with minimum medication or diagnosis errors.
  • The report feature integrated with EMRs helps in business analysis and planning. The end result of incorporating such a feature in electronic medical records is to help in examining and reviewing the different aspects of your practice that involve healthcare information documentation for exercising superior healthcare decisions.

On an ending note, we know it’s tempting to spend years choosing just the right vendor. However, do remember that many of your competitors have already joined the EMR bandwagon and are enjoying the benefits of EMR adoption, which include enhanced patient safety, enterprise productivity, provider efficiency and countless government incentives. Be wise, make an informed decision but do not delay!

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