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Posted on June 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: EMR, Medical Billing  

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Recent surveys show that approximately 30% of physicians are unhappy with their EMRs.

Market research firm KLAS found in a July survey that nearly half of 300 practices who were buying EHR systems were not first-time purchasers‘«Ųwhich means that they were replacing a system that wasn‘«÷t working for them.

Some physicians even argue that EMRs are endangering patients‘«÷ lives.

So, should EMRs be scrapped?

No, of course not.

The computer that took the astronauts to the moon the first time was less powerful than the computer in my iPhone. Did NASA stop there? No.

Remember the first version of Microsoft Word? (For those who have been around long enough!) It was very basic‘«Ųdidn‘«÷t even have the auto-correct feature that can be so annoying (especially with ‘«£EHR‘«ō).

Obviously, technology evolves; and this is as true in healthcare IT as in other industries. There will be a shake out of those EMRs that don‘«÷t serve practices well or don‘«÷t have a sustainable business model. Mitochon‘«÷s decision to shut down their EMR is just the first of these that we will see over the next few years. And as Dr. Gregg Alexander ?Šsaid on Twitter recently, ‘«£Too bad, too, cuz Mitochon had some good pieces.‘«ō But this is the way of software, as in most things‘«Ųonly the strong survive.

Meaningful Use incentives drove development of many EMRs that will not survive this shakeout, and for good reason‘«Ųthey don‘«÷t serve their physician users as they should.

Where does this leave practices?

Well, in some senses it puts practices in the best possible position: The software will have to improve in order to keep users happy and survive the shakeout. Healthcare IT should only improve from here.

But of course, the flip side is that some practices will be left in the lurch, like Mitochon‘«÷s users. And I don‘«÷t mean to minimize that‘«Ųit‘«÷s incredibly frustrating to go through all of the hard work of selecting, implementing and training on a new system, only to see it yanked out from under you. That‘«÷s not something anyone wants to happen, least of all EMR companies.

But it will happen, unfortunately.

So what do you do? Protect yourself.

Utilize the resources at hand for selecting the best EMR for your practice:

1. Define what you want going in‘«Ųidentify your wants/needs and make a list. Otherwise, it‘«÷s easy to be swayed by a sales pitch.
2. Review KLAS and other leading directories for objective data on systems.
3. Talk to your colleagues about what systems they‘«÷ve tried, what worked‘«Ųand most importantly, what didn‘«÷t.
4. Insist on a 30-day trial of any system you‘«÷re considering‘«Ųthis is very common now, and any system that won‘«÷t allow it is suspect in my book.
5. Talk to your medical billing service.

Most medical billing services of any size work with a variety of systems, and they get feedback and insights from a number of different practices. They can share their overview of the systems that practices are successful with and those that are not working out.

Bottom line: You need to make sure you‘«÷re getting what you really need and not just what a software company can wrap in a pretty package and sell you.

I firmly believe that we will reach a point where doctors have user-friendly, truly useful EMRs that will make patient care easier and better. But we‘«÷re not there yet.

Until we are, be careful out there.

Posted on June 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: EMR, Medical Billing, Technology  

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Now that many providers are using EMRs (more than 50%, according to HHS), we‘«÷re hearing more feedback on how well EMRs work: specifically, we‘«÷re hearing a lot of dissatisfaction.

As I mentioned in our blog post last week:

According to a survey released at this year‘«÷s HIMSS meeting, satisfaction and usability ratings for certified electronic health record systems have decreased significantly since 2010.

The survey showed that:

-?Š 37% said they were dissatisfied with their EHR system‘«÷s usability, compared with 23% in 2010;

-?Š 34% of surveyed clinicians said they were ‘«£very dissatisfied‘«ō with their EHR system‘«÷s ability to decrease workload, up from 19% in 2010 (Vaidya,?ŠBecker‘«÷s Hospital Review, 3/6).

You can hardly blame doctors for being frustrated and disappointed with these systems when you look at the confusing layouts and multiple screens required for navigation. This is not what they went to medical school for. As cardiologist David Mokotoff, MD, pointed out in a guest post on KevinMD.com:

‘«£‘«™every hour I spend learning a new and unique system is another hour less devoted to patient care, and more to machines, not to mention the sapping of mental energy.‘«ō

Multiple other articles and surveys have demonstrated the current frustration with EMRs, and this has some people ready to throw out EMRs, saying that they just don‘«÷t work.

The lack of functionality in EMRs and the disruption of work flow is, of course, a big concern.

But these initial EMRs are only the first step in the process.

The tiny space capsule used for the first Gemini launch was far different from the sophisticated shuttles used to take astronauts to the International Space Station.

EMRs must and will evolve to better serve physicians and ultimately patients.

Recently, two EMRs lost their MU certification and another announced it was getting out of the EMR business.

This is a natural part of the process: there will be a shake-out, and better systems will survive and rise to the top. New systems will be better designed to meet the needs of their users and not just be ‘«£first to market.‘«ō

In the meantime, as I‘«÷ve mentioned before, it‘«÷s important to do your homework when selecting an EMR, whether it‘«÷s your first or second system.

I wrote recently about the need to take specific steps to avoid heartbreak when choosing your EMR, including:

– Conduct a?Šworkflow analysis: Look at how information presently flows in your office, and identify bottlenecks that need improvement.?Š

– Get and use a 30-day trial.

– Have representatives from every user group review and test the software.

– Talk to your colleagues

– Consider how customizable the EMR is

One additional point I would add today:

– Wait.

Better EMRs are coming, and very soon. Don‘«÷t settle for what‘«÷s available today unless you absolutely must make a move now; redesigns and new designs are in progress that will offer more functionality and much greater customization than we‘«÷ve seen in most systems so far. You‘«÷ll hear more about this very shortly, but in the meantime, I can assure you:

They‘«÷re worth waiting for.

If you‘«÷d like to discuss medical office software and streamlining medical office processes with an expert in the meantime, contact Medical-Billing.com today. Our experts have worked with most of the systems out there and can give you an honest assessment of what will work best for your practice, and show you how you can bring more to the bottom line.

Posted on May 24, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: EMR, Medical Billing  

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You‘«÷ve probably guessed that many of your colleagues are less than enthralled with their EMRs just based on conversations and postings on social media. But if you need some convincing: According to a survey released at this year‘«÷s HIMSS meeting, satisfaction and usability ratings for certified electronic health record systems have decreased significantly since 2010.

The survey showed that:

-?Š 37% said they were dissatisfied with their EHR system’s usability, compared with 23% in 2010;

-?Š 34% of surveyed clinicians said they were “very dissatisfied” with their EHR system’s ability to decrease workload, up from 19% in 2010; and

-?Š 32% said they had not yet returned to pre-EHR implementation productivity levels, compared with 20% in 2010 (Vaidya,?ŠBecker’s Hospital Review, 3/6).

Read more:?Šhttp://www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2013/3/7/ehr-satisfaction-survey-released-clinton-speaks-at-himss-conference.aspx#ixzz2U8lxCxYv

With more?Šelectronic health record?Šsystems continuing to fall short of providers’ expectations, a new report by Black Book Rankings suggests that 2013 may indeed be the “year of the great EHR vendor switch.”

After polling some 17,000 active EHR adopters, report officials found that as many as 17 percent of medical practices could be switching out their first choice EHR by the end of the year.

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ehr-users-dissatisfied-consider-switch

To avoid the heartbreak of an unsatisfactory EMR, here are some steps you should take (among several others) to insure that you get a good feel for what will work for your practice:

-?ŠConduct a workflow analysis: Look at how information presently flows in your office, and identify bottlenecks that need improvement.?Š

Many providers have found that the EMR they purchased doesn‘«÷t correlate with their work flows, or they realize at that point that their work flows are broken. Best to identify this before you implement an EMR.

– Get and use a 30-day trial.

Many vendors offer a 30-day trial now, and it‘«÷s the best idea‘«Ųwhy commit to a piece of software without taking it for a test drive? No demo can really tell you how you will like using the EMR‘«Ųyou need some time to kick the tires and see how the steering wheel feels in your hands.

– Have representatives from every user group review and test the software.

Make sure to have staff members from different areas participate in demos and 30-day trials, as well‘«Ųthey have different needs and methods of using the software. You don‘«÷t want to hear about how it doesn‘«÷t work for your staff after you‘«÷ve purchased and installed it.

– Talk to your colleagues

You can‘«÷t rely solely on your colleagues‘«÷ reviews of an EMR, but it is still a good idea to talk to them and see what they like and don‘«÷t like about their EMR. If you can find someone in your specialty who uses the systems you‘«÷re considering, that‘«÷s best. Ask the vendor to provide some customers, preferably a list and not just one or two show ponies.

– Consider how customizable the EMR is

One of the prime complaints of those who are unhappy with their EMR is the fact that it doesn‘«÷t accommodate the way they like to work. Take a good look at how customizable the system is: templates, etc., and see if you can shape it into something that works smoothly for you. If not, ask what the vendor can do to help.

This is clearly a short list of steps you should take to insure you choose the right EMR, but there are many resources available. Here are just a few to check out:

Resources

Ron Sterling has written an award-winning book on avoiding EHR disasters, and also writes a blog on the same subject at http://avoid-ehr-disasters.blogspot.com/

EHR Report 2012: Physicians Rank Top EHRs

EHR Comparisons: http://ehr-software.findthebest.com/

Finding the right EHR vendor for your facility: A buyer’s guide

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Are you looking for an EMR for your practice? ?ŠDo you know how to find the right EMR for your practice?

If you already have an EMR, is it the right EMR for you now?

These are questions many practices are struggling with right now, as evidenced by a recent study by KLAS that shows a whopping 50% of providers were looking to replace their ambulatory EMRs, compared to 30% in 2011. In addition, a recent Health Data Management webinar noted more than 30% of ALL new EMR purchases are made to replace an existing EMR.

Why does this happen? And more importantly, how do you keep it from happening to you?

One of the best ways to avoid falling into the trap of choosing the wrong EMR is to use your resources. Talk to colleagues, look at reviews of EMR systems, and‘«™

Talk to your medical billing service.

That‘«÷s right‘«Ųbecause chances are, your medical billing service has looked at multiple systems, and they have probably received feedback from their clients on many more systems. They can tell you the good, the bad and the ugly.

Ask them your key questions about an EMR:

Do their clients like it?

Do their clients recommend it?

How well does the billing system work? Does it expedite or slow the billing process?

Are they happy with the reporting?

How did the EMR affect their workflow, and was it a positive or negative change?

Does the look and feel work for the practice? If not, why not?

Is the system easy to navigate? Multiple screens may not seem like a big issue in a demo, but multiply them by the number of patients per day, and the volume of clicks may become annoying.

Are you satisfied with the security and is it HIPAA-compliant?

And if you don‘«÷t have a medical billing service, this is just one reason why you may need to consider one now.

A medical billing company, at least a national medical billing company, has experience with many EMRs and medical billing systems. They hear from their clients, their fellow billing companies, their associations, and multiple other sources.

Even more importantly, once you‘«÷ve adopted an EMR, a national medical billing company can provide you with key reports showing if and how your profitability is being affected, and can serve as an additional sentry to insure your profitability doesn‘«÷t drop below certain levels without action being taken.

If you need a medical billing team that can provide this kind of support, whether you‘«÷re currently billing internally or working with another medical billing company, we‘«÷re happy to talk to you about how Medical-Billing.com can take your revenue cycle management to the next level.

On average, our physician clients get paid faster than 75% of multi-specialty group practices nationwide as surveyed by the Medical Group Management Association and Healthcare Billing Management Association for Days Revenue in AR.

Contact Medical-Billing.com today at 800-966-9270, or email sales@medical-billing.com to discuss how our practice revenue consultants can help you bring more to the bottom line.

Posted on October 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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A recent article by the New York Times entitled ‘«£The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records‘«ō has generated a lot of discussion among the HIT community and among healthcare professionals.

It‘«÷s an excellent article, looking at concerns that a number of healthcare professionals have about the efficiency, accuracy and reliability of EMRs. One source quoted, Mark V. Pauly, professor of health care management at the Wharton School, said the health I.T. industry was moving in the right direction but that it had a long way to go before it would save real money.

‘«£Like so many other things in health care,‘«ō Dr. Pauly said, ‘«£the amount of accomplishment is well short of the amount of cheerleading.‘«ō

Seriously? I can‘«÷t believe we‘«÷re still having this conversation.

In a world where I can go to Lowe‘«÷s and they can tell me what color paint I bought a year ago, or I can call Papa John‘«÷s and they know what my usual pizza order is, how can we expect less from our healthcare systems?

I recently joined a new healthcare system, and I have been impressed and pleased by their use of EMR and technology. I no longer have to worry about whether I told the new specialist everything he or she needed to know about my health history; it‘«÷s in my record. I no longer have to remember when I had my last tetanus shot; it‘«÷s in my record.

My care is coordinated between doctors, labs, etc., better than it ever has been before. In the past, I felt as though my healthcare was a giant patchwork quilt‘«Ųand some of the stitches were coming loose, frankly.

This new system with a widely used EMR, to me, is a huge improvement.

Granted, the problems cited in the article are real and need to be addressed. However, the article itself mentions some redundancies that are in place to insure that a system going down doesn‘«÷t throw the entire Mayo Clinic into freefall. And certainly, additional redundancies may be needed to insure that prescriptions aren‘«÷t incorrectly sent to a pharmacy for the wrong patient, etc.

Do doctors and medical staff need to learn how to code correctly so that they aren‘«÷t accused of cloning? Yes‘«Ųbut that‘«÷s a relatively easy problem to fix. The problem has already been identified, and training has already begun to address the issue.

I have been through this type of problem before, as have many of you, with new systems. It‘«÷s called a learning curve, and it‘«÷s relatively easy to work through with patience and determination. I have encountered situations before where the team I was working with threw up their hands when they ran into problems learning a new database system and said ‘«£It doesn‘«÷t work.‘«ō Yet in time, they learned to love the system‘«Ųand some of the biggest doubters became the experts on it.

Healthcare professionals overcome more difficult challenges than this every day; they bring people back from the dead, for Pete‘«÷s sake! I have no doubt that they will adapt and learn to utilize EMRs so that they improve healthcare and take patient care to levels currently unimaginable.

And to say, as was quoted in the article: ‘«£The technology is being pushed, with no good scientific basis‘«ō? Ridiculous, with all due deference to Dr. Scot M. Silverstein, a health I.T. expert at Drexel University who reports on medical records problems on the blog Health Care Renewal and made the statement.

Database management of information has been proven to be an improvement on paper records in just about every industry there is; healthcare will not be an exception.

Is it hard? Yes, it‘«÷s hard. To quote the movie A League of Their Own, ‘«£If it were easy, everyone would do it.‘«ō

Everyone can‘«÷t do it. But I have no doubt that healthcare professionals will do it. Remember that part about bringing people back from the dead? This is a lesser miracle.

Posted on August 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Did you know that the fastest growth among EMR purchasers is in small practices? Also, that the number of practices shopping for their second EMR has gone from 30% in 2011 to 50% in 2012?

You know the deal: You can qualify for up to $44,000 or more in EMR stimulus incentives by demonstrating meaningful use (and more than 100,000 providers, in practices small and large, have done that).

So are you still debating whether you should get an EMR?

And even more importantly, why isn‘«÷t your medical billing service offering to help you find the right EMR for your practice as part of their services? Do they offer you a FREE EMR?

Did that get your attention?

Yes, you can get an EMR free‘«Ųand qualify for the HITECH incentives‘«Ųthrough the right medical billing service. That means your billing will be fully integrated with your EMR, making your life much easier.

If your medical billing service isn‘«÷t offering to help you find your EMR, you should be asking yourself why.

  • Aren‘«÷t they up on the latest technology?
  • Aren‘«÷t they tech-savvy enough to offer an EMR? And if so, what does that mean to your claims‘«Ųhow well are they using the medical billing software?
  • Do they understand how important this could be to the financial future of your practice?

    Here at Medical-Billing.com, our Electronic Health Record consultants have helped practices across the US navigate the more than 600 companies which offer EMRs / EHRs. It‘«÷s an important decision, and we want to help you choose the right EMR from the long list that includes EMRs developed for particular specialties. We want to make sure you get the software your practice needs and will be able to use to achieve higher levels of productivity and profitability.

    You don‘«÷t want to be among the 50% of EMR shoppers who are looking for their second EMR‘«Ųthat transition is hard enough to make once, let alone twice! By working with consultants who have worked with multiple practices and who will evaluate your specific needs, you‘«÷ll get the right EMR‘«Ųthe first time.

    And by choosing your EMR in conjunction with Medical-Billing.com we can also provide you insurance billing services on any software that you choose. Our FREE full-service consulting can give you a list of a few EMRs that closely match your needs.

    About that Free EMR

    We offer our clients Practice Fusion, the most popular free EMR, used by over 150,000 providers. We feel it‘«÷s part of our responsibility in helping improve your practice financial picture, along with improving your DRO and net collection rate. Our billing services integrate seamlessly with Practice Fusion, so we are happy to recommend it.

    So if your medical billing service hasn‘«÷t offered you a free EMR, or to help you identify which EMR best meets your needs, contact Medical-Billing.com. We are ready, willing and able to help you find the right EMR fit for your practice–free.

    And we‘«÷ll improve your bottom line while we‘«÷re at it.

    Posted on April 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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    One of the biggest advantages that computers in general, and software’s in particular brought about was the disappearance of a lot paper usage in the office. This is especially true with EMR Software. God only knows how hours were wasted in hospitals by staff members shuffling through mountains of paper work. EMR or Electronic Medical Records has changed all that. Now all that shuffling and re-shuffling that used to be done in offices has been replaced with mouse clicking. Replacing all this paper is not only about convenience, it is also about being more environmentally friendly. Nowadays everybody knows that less paper means fewer trees are getting cut down, therefore the planet earth benefits in the end.
    Apart from environmental benefits EMR software packages has many other capabilities to make office work easier. The following are a list of some of the things it is capable of.

    Economic stimulus: Not many know that the US government is giving up to 40,000 dollars for hospitals and physicians who switch to this program. Environmental impact is part of the reason why the government is doing this.

    Send messages: In the ‘«£old days‘«ō, message sending involved calling out to a nurse or secretary to ask a medical record related question. With this program it will not be necessary. This is because it will be possible to send messages through this program.

    Dealing with prescriptions: With this software it will be possible to keep track of prescriptions with ease. No need to scribble it out on a pad or paper. It will be possible to call up a prescription and print it out with this type of software.

    Comprehension: The days of trying to figure the doctors hand writing is a thing of the past. With EMR it will be possible to read anything that is uploaded into this software.

    Paper reduction: As mentioned before, the amount of paper used for any transaction will be greatly reduced. The only paper that will get used is the one in the printer. This means no more reminders, charts or files to keep track of. With EMR programs it can be easily accessed by anyone who has authority to do so.

    Instant Information: During patient exams, the doctor will be able to have instant access to any health related issue concerning the patient, with a touch of a button. No more worrying about whether the right information is taken for the right patient.

    Last but not least, when paper work is reduced, there is no more fear that information will be lost. From all this it is possible to see EMR software has huge environmental as well as practical use for society.

    Posted on March 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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    Software processes have infiltrated the very core of medical care and today, one is likely to find source code in almost every instance of a medical machine. This is because software has been found to be very practical, affordable and accurate in the various activities within a health center. Medical software has therefore grown over the years to become integral to many processes within the medical field. Examples of medical software include those used for analysis, measurements, therapy delivery and monitors. Another section is Electronic Medical Records software or EMR software. When sourcing for EMR software the following steps should be followed:

    Step 1: Internal Audit

    Every medical center or practice has its own systems and methodology of doing things. This is why a thorough audit should be carried out to get the exact position of the medical facility. This is especially important in terms of records and record keeping.

    Step 2: Needs Assessment

    After completing the audit, the management must sit down and do a needs assessment analysis of their organization. This needs assessment should include the justification for acquiring and installing EMR software in the center. After this has been done conclusively, they must then make a focused assessment of the type and build of software that will best serve those needs.

    Step 3: Type of Software Needed

    There are many software packages in the market today that are targeted towards the medical sector. The only thing is that all medical software is not equal. As a result of this, it is important to only use a software vendor who has a good track record and who can demonstrate instances of the software successfully deployed and in use in other facilities. Once this has been achieved, it is essential to ensure there is a support feature in the package, as explained below.

    Step 4: Installation and Support

    Software is a versatile and constantly evolving technology. As a result of this, any software package must include some form of maintenance and support component. This is because as technology evolves and as the organization grows, there will be need to constantly update and upgrade the software to ensure relevance and seamless integration with changing dynamics.

    In conclusion, acquiring EMR software is much more complex than acquiring, say, an operating system or a document processor. Because this software shall be used constantly and will be required to be running smoothly 100% of the time, sourcing, purchase, installation and deployment must be a process tightly controlled by key stakeholders within the organization.

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