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August 10th, 2011

Electronic evidence-based protocols used as a “shared baseline” at the patient bedside may help eliminate unnecessary medical careand that can lead a health care entity down the road to being a top-performing organization, as one case study illustrates.

IT plays a crucial role in preventing health-care-associated infections (HAIs), according to a new white paper from GE Healthcare IT.

HAIs affect 1.7 million inpatients each year, and are the fourth leading cause of U.S. deaths. Additionally, they cost the U.S. health care system as much as $35 billion each year. According to the GE Healthcare IT report, however, HAIs can be prevented with emerging technologies, such as electronic medical records (EMRs).

As one example, the report highlights the case of Intermountain Healthcare, where 80 percent of care delivery is evidence-based (vs. less than 55 percent for the rest of the industry).

There, evidence-based care protocols are rolled into a clinical information system and used as a “shared baseline” at the patient bedside. Physicians are expected to base their treatments on these protocols, making any necessary adjustments to meet individual patient needs.

Evidence-based protocols can improve accuracy, as illustrated by the work of Anthony Lee, MD, of Columbus Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio. Lee created a Web-based system that automatically calculated a patient’s next dose of insulin. Instead of reviewing multiple pages and performing manual calculations, nurses simply enter two variables and the system instructed what action to take next. As it turned out, nursed calculated the insulin rate incorrectly nearly 25 percent of the time with the paper system, but only 1 percent of the time with the Web-based system (and in 80 percent of cases with errors, the insulin infusion rate was miscalculated by at least one unit per hour).

According to the GE Healthcare IT report, using such evidence-based care protocols for clinical decision support also eliminates unnecessary care, which has helped make Intermountain a top-performing organization. Other health care organizations of all sizes may wish to emulate this practice.

The entire report is available here.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
August 2nd, 2011

Looking for a better return on investment? Health care practice’s medical billing departments may be able to realize a significant return on investment by implementing an electronic document management solution (EDMS) with integrated workflow technology, according to a new white paper.

Medical billing departments are tasked with maximizing revenue per claim and minimizing cost per claim processed, which is often more difficult than it sounds. The administrative cost of processing a medical claim can be as high as $10, but on average, 30 percent of medical claims sent to insurance companies never get paid. Plus, many insurance companies take up to three months to process paper claims.

Billing managers who use technology to improve the billing process may be able to dramatically improve collection amounts and times. According to a white paper from Laserfiche®, “ROI for Medical Billing,” with an investment in digital document management and workflow technology, medical billing departments can save anywhere from $145,000 a year in annual operational costs for a single-facility billing department to upwards of $1,500,000 for a large billing organization.

Some entities have already started down that path. For example, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) shows that three-quarters of all health insurance claims are now submitted electronically, up from 24 percent in 1995. As a result, 98 percent of claims are processed within a month of receipt (and many within a week).

One more technology that can streamline billing and coding processes, thereby shortening the revenue-collection cycle, is an electronic document management solution (EDMS) that includes workflow technology. A best-of-class EDMS can automatically take files received in different formats including paper and fax, convert them into a single electronic format, automatically name the documents, and route them to the appropriate staff. Advanced EDMSs can even monitor network folders for faxes or FTP uploads and immediately process the files without staff intervention. Scanned documents are then stored in a secure, HIPAA-compliant repository.

Savings, according to the white paper, arise from the reduced labor hours of batch and file creation, as well as reduced office supply requirements. Even more dramatic savings can be achieved when scanning is done at the source, such as a remote office, which eliminates the cost of transportation.

The white paper is available here.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
July 14th, 2011

Creating online tools that allow patients to complete cumbersome paperwork online before their appointment and complete other tasks electronically is something both doctors and patients wantbecause it saves time and money on both sides of the equation.

Patients are ready for physicians to offer a number of new online tools, according to a recent studyand many physicians are ready to do so. Are you?

The Intuit Health Patient Engagement Study, which looked at 556 U.S. medical practices, found that 95 percent of doctors want their patients to fill out medical forms online before their appointments. And most patients are on board: a full 81 percent said they’d like to do these tasks online as well.

One reason is that the current state of medical practices is inefficient. Nearly half of the medical practices surveyed said they regularly run 30 to 60 minutes behind schedule. That isn’t surprising: One-third of practices reported that staff spends three or more hours each day trying to reach patients to communicate follow-up information, and forty-five percent reported that phone interruptions happen so frequently they impact office efficiency.

Patients are unhappy, too: Most of the medical practices surveyed reported that patients complain about spending too much time in the waiting room, filling out the same paper forms over and over, and trying to make appointments, ask questions, and receive lab results.

The current state of medical practices is costly, too: Eighty-three percent of the medical practices surveyed reported that patients have to be reminded more than once before paying a bill.

The solution, according to the survey: “When doctors give patients convenient and easy-to-use online tools, they’ll be amazed at the positive impact an engaged and satisfied patient can have on their staff’s time and their bottom line.”

According to the study, because customers already use online self-service tools today in banking, shopping, and other areas, they’re ready to embrace them in health care.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
July 5th, 2011

Rising demand for cost containment and improved service in the health care field is fueling the growth of the EMR market, according to a new studybut given how fragmented the market is, health care practitioners who want to jump on board would be wise to have a trusted technology advisor guide them through the process.

The U.S. electronic medical records (EMR) market will reach the $6 billion mark by 2015a significant growth rate of 18.1 percent from 2010 to 2015.

This information comes from a new study from MarketsandMarkets, a global research and consulting firm that studies the major market drivers, restraints, and opportunities of the EMR market by looking at components and end users.

According to the study, a rising demand for cost containment and improved service in the health care field is driving the growth of the EMR market, which should grow from $2,177 million in 2009 to $6,054 million in 2015. That’s an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.1 percent from 2010 to 2015.

Is it time for you to get on board with an EMR? Although large health care practices prefer on-site, client-server-based EMR systems, small health care practices are jumping on the EMR bandwagon too, with web-based EMR solutions or ASP models.

Still, the study notes that the U.S. EMR market is fragmented, with more than 1,000 players. With this many options available, it helps to have a trusted technology advisor guide you through the EMR selection and implementation process. Contact us if you require assistance.

Related materials: U.S. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Market, 2010-2015 (Market Share, Winning Strategies and Adoption Trends)

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
June 15th, 2011

Digital pen and paper technology can help physicians reach meaningful use more quickly, and only requires three things: a digital pen, digital paper that reads the input from the digital pen, and the software that pulls it all together.

The race to meaningful use is underwayand anyone who is participating should look into digitizing information that has been historically stored on paper. One way to do that is digital pen and paper technology.

Digital pen and paper technology digitizes information you write down, provided that you use a special pen and special paper. The benefit: You write as you normally would, but the information you write can be stored and accessed via your electronic medical record (EMR) system.

If you’re a physician on the road to meaningful use, you’ll want to explore this technology because it can reduce the number of things you need to change when implementing an EMR. That, in turn, will reduce your frustrationand get you up and running more quickly.

Interested? You’ll need three components: a digital pen, the software that prints the digital paper, and the digital paper that reads the input from the digital pen.

Here’s how it works. Your IT provider gives you software that lets you design and print your own formsin other words, they look exactly like the forms you’re currently using. However, they will contain a subtle pattern of barely visible dots that can be read by the digital pen when you write. Although digital pens are larger than normal pens, they’re not so large that they’re hard to use, and they produce ink so you can see what you’re writing. Everything you write is then uploaded to your computer systemsaving you time and improving accuracy.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
June 7th, 2011

In the past, analyses of the benefits of EMR implementation focused primarily on increased efficiency, improved patient care, and lower costsbut EMRs offer much more than that, according to a recent study by a health care IT leader.

Now there’s one more reason to implement an electronic medical record (EMR) system: They have compelling environmental effects, including the reduction of greenhouse gases.

According to a study by Kaiser Permanente published in the May issue of Health Affairs, EMRs could lower U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by as much as 1.7 million tons.

The study began with a Kaiser Permanente analysis of how that health system, which serves more than 8.7 million members, helped the environment by operating the world’s largest private EMR, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect. According to the analysis, Kaiser Permanente’s use of an EMR reduced paper use by 1,044 tons per year, and digitizing and archiving x-ray images and other scans reduced the use of toxic chemicals (including silver nitrate and hydroquinone) by 33.3 tons per year. Other compelling statistics: Filling prescriptions online reduced CO2 emissions by 7,000 tons, and reducing travel with virtual visits reduced CO2 emissions by 92,000 tons. The environmental savings were compelling even when energy use from the increase in personal computers was factored in.

From that analysis, Kaiser Permanente developed a model to evaluate the environmental impact of EMRs in general. That model looks at six categories of environmental impact within health care to examine those most directly related to EMRs. “As the country increases its meaningful use of HIT, we should consider other macro impacts as well,” said one Kaiser Permanente official.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Healthcare, News
May 10th, 2011

While many physicians believe return on investment (ROI) in health care technology is a figment of an overactive imagination, a growing body of evidence supports the conclusion that clinical applications increase efficiency, improve quality, and boost patient safety.

In his recent blog, “A Message to America’s Physicians: Purchasing EHR Technology A Shaky State of Affairs,” David Kibbe, MD, says that cost of purchase is not the primary barrier to EMR implementation uncertainty is. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

To illustrate his point, Kibbe quoted Lawrence Summers, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. “If you as a business were considering buying a new boiler, and if you knew the price of energy was going to be high, you would buy one kind of boiler. If you knew the price of energy was going to be low, you’d buy another kind of boiler. If you didn’t know what the price of energy was going to be, but you thought you would know a year from now, you wouldn’t buy any boiler at all.”

According to Kibbe, what this means is that physicians who know their reimbursement rates will be high will buy one kind of EMR, while physicians who know their reimbursement rates will be low will buy another kind of EMR. On the other hand, physicians who don’t know what their reimbursement rates are going to be, but think they will know a year from now, won’t buy any EMR at all.

While there is certainly some logic to this, EMR implementation isn’t just about reimbursements. Certainly, reimbursements are important, especially for physicians in small practices. That’s because the amount they are paid per encounter by health plans, Medicare, and Medicaid are what determines how much money, net of expenses, they will have available for significant investments such as EMR technology.

But EMR technology can save you money in the long run. As with any technology there is an up-front cost, but the return on investment (ROI) increases with each year after implementation. While many believe ROI in health care technology is a figment of an overactive imagination, a growing body of evidence supports the conclusion that clinical applications increase efficiency, improve quality, and boost patient safety. That’s particularly true if you choose an EMR that can stand the test of timeso choose wisely, but choose soon.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
May 3rd, 2011

More than 70 percent of office-based physicians are eligible for federal incentives but do not have a basic EMR, according to a recent study. However, that will likely change from 2013 through 2015, the final years of the HITECH bonus period, and as younger physicians begin practicing medicine.

Roughly 83 percent of office-based physicians could qualify for federal incentives for electronic medical records (EMR) implementation if they meet meaningful use criteria, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

The studywhich used data from the 2007 and 2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to measure the use of EMRs by office-based physiciansfound that some physicians would qualify for Medicare incentives, some for Medicaid incentives, and some for both. Eligibility was based on the number of Medicare and Medicaid patients seen.

Interesting data points from the study include:

  • 70.5 percent of physicians are eligible for incentives, but do not have a basic EMR.
  • 12.1 percent of physicians are eligible for incentives and already have a basic EMR.
  • 14.6 percent of physicians are not eligible for incentives and do not have a basic EMR.
  • 2.8 percent of physicians are not eligible for incentives and already have a basic EMR.
  • Location matters: Midwest physicians were more likely to qualify, Western physicians less likely.
  • Specialty matters: Psychiatrists are significantly less likely to use EMRs than other specialists.
  • Practice type matters: Physicians in a solo practice and physicians in practices owned by a health maintenance organization (HMO) are less likely than those in larger practices to qualify for incentives and use EMRs.

While physicians may be slow to embrace EMRs, they won’t resist for long, according to Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs. Dentzer predicts more physicians will adopt EMRs from 2013 through 2015, in the final years of the HITECH bonus period. Moreover, as younger physicians begin practicing, the operating standard will likely change to using EMRs.

In our opinion, implementing sooner is better than implementing later. Contact us for more information about getting an EMR.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
April 7th, 2011

More and more office-based physicians plan to implement EMRs and qualify for federal incentive payments, according to recent survey data released by the ONC. Moreover, 41 percent of doctors surveyed are planning to achieve meaningful use and take advantage of the incentive payments.

There has been a reversal in the low interest in electronic medical record (EMR) adoption seen in previous years.

This information comes from surveys commissioned by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and carried out in the course of regular annual surveillance by the American Hospital Association and the National Center for Health Statistics.

The survey data shows that significantly increasing numbers of primary care physicians have already adopted a basic EMR, rising from 19.8 percent in 2008 to 29.6 percent in 2010.

Although basic EMRs are a good starting point, physicians would need to further upgrade their systems to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments. But there’s good news there, too: According to the surveys, 41 percent of office-based physicians are planning to achieve meaningful use of certified EMR technology and take advantage of the incentive payments. The majority of those physicians responded that they would enroll during Stage 1 of the programs.

David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health information technology, says leadership from the medical community and the federal government is responsible for the increase in EMR adoption rates.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Healthcare, News
April 5th, 2011

phycisian carrying laptopEMRs provide measurable benefits for providers of all sizes, including small practices, according to a recent survey. Plus, the return on investment is high: According to researcher, it costs just $7,857 and takes just 130 hours to implement an EMR at a five-member practice.

In contrast to prior suggestions that electronic medical records (EMRs) may not benefit small health care providers, a new survey says there are measurable benefits for providers of all sizes.

To conduct the survey, current and past Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) staff members looked 154 peer-reviewed articles written from 2007 to 2010.

In their paper “The Benefits of Health Information Technology: A Review of the Recent Literature Shows Predominantly Positive Results,” they report that 92 percent reached the conclusion that the use of health IT has an overall positive effect.

The survey also found evidence of emerging measurable benefits for small health care practices in addition to the large ones.

That may be because the return on investment is high. Case in point: Dr. Neil Fleming, vice president for health care research at Baylor Health Center System, says EHR implementation cost $7,857 per physician and takes 130 hours at a five-member practice.

The reason for the discrepancy with prior studies, says David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health care IT, is that prior studies focused on the early years of EHR development when functionality was not as mature.

“Two salient aspects of this more recent synthesis are that it brings the literature up to date and extends it beyond the few large systems that were the source of most information on the record for health information technology, and looks at it in a much more representative set of provider settings,” Blumenthal said.

Related articles: New survey shows EHRs benefit even small providers

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Healthcare, News