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March 14th, 2012

Most medical practices that implement Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) see a significant financial return on investment (ROI). Here are five ways that happens: You can see more patients; you'll reduce missed appointments; your claims processing will be more efficient; you'll spend less on hard technology costs; and you'll improve reimbursements. Below we discuss each in more detail.

  1. You can see more patients. Once you've implemented an EMR and established good work flows, you'll spend less time documenting, allowing you more time to see more patients.

  2. You'll reduce missed appointments. Cancelations and no-shows are key performance indicators. An EMR can reduce them by issuing appointment reminders, and a reduction in missed appointments can improve your bottom line.

  3. Your claims processing will be more efficient. Once you've implemented an EMR, you'll spend less time filing, faxing, and retrieving charts and moving documents, which will allow claims to be processed faster.

  4. You'll spend less on hard technology costs. Once you've implemented an EMR, your technology will be centralized, so you’ll make fewer ad hoc purchases. Moreover, if your EMR is cloud-based, you'll spend less on equipment overall.

  5. You’ll improve reimbursements. Many EMRs have alerts that make sure you're using the correct document to satisfy reimbursement requirements—and improved legibility is a bonus.

    Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 11th, 2012

An electronic medical record (EMR) implementation isn't just about replacing paper charts with digital technology. EMRs also provide a perfect opportunity to review and improve your workflows. The result can be increased efficiencies—which means decreased costs.

Your medical practice has probably been doing things the same way for a long time. Maybe you think you do things well, and most likely you actually do. Most practices, however, have not recently reviewed and optimized processes to the extent possible. Few have standardized procedures in writing, for example.

Implementing an EMR won't automatically make these improvements. In fact, most people think EMRs solve problems, but they actually amplify problems that already exist in a practice.

Because of this, adopting an EMR presents a good opportunity for you to make your practice more efficient by reviewing processes and optimizing your own workflows. In fact, you may find that with little effort you are able to identify new efficiencies that could save time and money.

Be patient, however. The adoption of technology is an iterative process. In other words, while EMRs are full of functions that will bring efficiency to your practice if implemented correctly, this won't happen overnight. Give it some time. Typically, health care groups are in the learning and adoption phase of their transition for several months. You should see results after that.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 10th, 2012

Electronic medical record (EMR) implementations aren't always simpleespecially for small physician groups, which may lack dedicated information technology resources. However, following a few best practices regarding your constituents can help ensure that the process proceeds smoothly. Here are three.

Personalize for physicians. No two physicians are exactly like, so no two physicians should have to do things the same way. And that applies to functions both large and small. People approach even the simplest of technologies, such as email and word processing, differently. A good EMR will provide several ways to accomplish the same task, so be sure you offer physicians the option to choose which will best fit their practice styles.

Include nurses. With that said, an EMR isn't all about the physician. While physicians may be leaders and key decision-makers, they are not the exclusive users of an EMR. According to some reports, nurses account for almost 75 percent of chart use, and physicians just 25 percent. As a result, one of the greatest mistakes of EMR implementation is forgetting about nurses. When you create an EMR committee, be sure to have nursing representatives on it.

Round on users. Just as physicians and nurses "round" on patients at a hospital, you should round on everyone in the practice to gauge their comfort with the EMR. Thirty days and then again six months after you go live, visit each user to observe how he or she uses the EMR, take suggestions, and offer tips about how to best use the EMR within your workflows.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 12th, 2011

Government's incentives for electronic medical record (EMR) adoption could pay off in improved quality of care, according to a new study. It found that patients in physician practices that used EMRs got better care and had better outcomes than those in physician practices that used paper records.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 500 primary care physicians treating 27,000 adults with diabetes.

According to the study, those patients in physician practices that used EMRs were significantly more likely to have care that met certain standards as well as positive outcomes than those in physician practices that used paper records.

Standards included timely measurements of blood sugar, management of kidney problems, eye examinations, and vaccinations for pneumonia. Positive outcomes included meeting national benchmarks for blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol control, as well as achieving a non-obese body mass index and avoidance of tobacco use.

Almost 51 percent of patients at EMR-based practices received care that met all of the endorsed standardscompared to only 7 percent of patients at paper-based practices. And almost 44 percent of patients in EMR-based practices met at least four of five outcome standardscompared to just 16 percent of patients at paper-based practices.

According to the study, these findings were consistent regardless of insurance type (Medicare, Medicaid and commercial payers) as well as for the uninsured.

David Blumenthal, MD, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, says these results support the expectation that federal support of EMRs will generate quality-related returns on investment (ROI).

Related articles: EHR Incentives Can Generate "Quality-Related" ROI, Study Says

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 5th, 2011

Lack of usability is often at the root of slow electronic medical record (EMR) adoptionbut usability refers to more than user satisfaction. It's not about the screens and the number of clicks used to navigate them; it's about the functionality of the system. Below are five ways to ensure your EMR won't cause headaches.

Ease. Your EMR cannot be burdensome. To ensure it isn't, you may want to look at how physicians interact with nurses (both in the office and on the phone) when using the demo EMR.

Supportiveness. Your EMR should support your office workflows. To ensure it does, you may want to present EMR vendors you're considering with three clinical scenarios: one that's common, one that's challenging, and one that involves many staff interactions.

Efficiency. A good EMR will ultimately save you time and this can be accomplished in many ways, big and small. For example, keeping an electronic chart open on the desktop can help workflows, because if a provider is often in one patient’s chart when a phone call interrupts his work, he may want to open another chart but keep the first one open. To ensure efficiency, you'll want to watch providers using an EMR in real-life scenarios.

Flexibility. A good EMR will adapt to your changing needs. Ensure that it can evolve as providers become comfortable with improvements in workflow and operational efficiencies as new technologies are developed.

Effectiveness. Finally, your EMR has to work. In other words, does it help you achieve current results, which are based on volume of patients and procedures? Will it help you achieve future results, which many health care analysts believe will be value-driven, and for which clinical data is used to measure quality?

Related articles: Five Keys to EMR Usability

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.