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EHR Innovation & Regulation: Friends or Foes?

Posted on August 16, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Stephen Dart, Sr. Director of Product Management at AdvancedMD.

Healthcare insiders often point out how far behind the industry is in taking advantage of technology when compared to industries like retail or finance.

Technology providers get their share of blame for not designing it with a user in mind, a common argument heard in relation to the Electronic Health Record (EHR) ill-fitting place in the physician’s workflow. What is not talked about much is the role regulations play in shaping the technology and its use in healthcare.

Designing for compliance

Regulations are present in every industry and serve an important function of protecting individuals’ privacy and rights. Healthcare is highly regulated compared to many other industries due to the sensitive nature of Protected Health Information.  There is a good deal of additional regulations regarding programs such as MACRA, dedicated to monitoring provider performance and reporting it back to the government for reimbursement. As such, technology for providers must be designed to capture and report such data.

For vendors like AdvancedMD, one of the challenges is not in designing software to address the regulations, but rather in designing it under the ever-evolving guidelines and shifting deadlines. At times, well-meaning standards also fail to function as intended because they are not enforced end-to-end.

As an example, Meaningful Use Stage 2 required the EHR to meet a standard for interfacing with state immunization registries. For certification, technology providers had to produce a standard-format file and transmit it to the state immunization registry. However, every state had its own set of requirements and most states would not accept the format designated as the certification requirement but instead have their own additional or different requirements.

Consider lab results as another example. The EHR has to meet the engineering standard for using a LOINC code when receiving lab results to enable the physician to report metrics for regulatory attestation. Unfortunately, labs are not held to the same standard, and if the lab does not send results using the LOINC code, the physician cannot get credit when reporting or has to manually add a code for it to be considered for meeting the performance metric.

Naturally, there is cost incurred to design compliance features for vendors. At AdvancedMD, it has a significant impact on our research and development (R&D) budget. It also influences the other two R&D categories that have a direct impact on the end-user experience – keeping the technology on the cutting edge and innovation.

Integrating compliance into workflow

If regulations require physicians to report more data, vendors have a choice of designing compliance features to either ask the physician to input that information manually or to capture it automatically for reporting.

At AdvancedMD, a lot of effort goes into automating the regulatory requirements and integrating the necessary data collection naturally into providers’ existing workflow. If software identifies that the physician has just written an electronic prescription, there is no reason to ask him or her to go into a separate system and attest manually to having done so. This regulatory tracker can be natively built into the platform.

All roads lead to innovation

There is a lot of pressure on everyone in healthcare today and the industry is undergoing constant changes. Patients expect more as they pay more under high-deductible plans.  They increasingly rely on wearables to tell them how well they sleep and how many steps they need to take as part of a larger trend of taking command of their own health. Doctors and patients alike will benefit from this data being integrated into patient records.  If this patient-captured data can be merged into the patient chart, machine learning and analytics algorithms can in some cases predict what an independent practice needs to do next. This next step could be to streamline administrative processes for outreach messaging and improve care through electronic follow-up, leading to increased profitability and better care. Importantly, the EHR, practice management and all other technologies designed for providers need to liberate them to focus on patient care, not distract from it.

All these advanced features are the next frontier in healthcare and require vendors to dedicate a lot more effort and budget to innovation. While healthcare technology can’t be expected to catch up with an Apple or Facebook overnight with regard to user experience, there is much that can be done to close the gap. The industry as a whole will get there much faster when regulations and technology align to advance that goal.

Incremental regulatory steps in areas where standards can be controlled and enforced cradle-to-the-grave will benefit all parties. Vendors can plan their engineering budgets in advance and design fully functional compliance features. The industry will benefit from designing with the user in mind, furthering the role regulations play in shaping technology and its use in healthcare. Ultimately, regulations should allow providers to focus on care and to engage more meaningfully with their patients, thus optimizing the EHR’s role in the physician’s workflow.

e-MDs Acquires McKesson’s Portfolio of Ambulatory EHR Software

Posted on March 10, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This post will likely be a little bit of inside baseball for many, but I think it’s a really important subject to cover since it’s going to impact so many practices and so many doctors. The news just came out that e-MDs was acquiring the suite of ambulatory EHR software owned by McKesson. For those keeping track at home, these are 6 of the assets acquired from McKesson: McKesson Practice Choice™, Medisoft®, Medisoft® Clinical, Lytec®, Lytec® MD, and Practice Partner®.

This shouldn’t be a surprise from a McKesson perspective. At HIMSS I heard multiple stories of people talking with McKesson staff who didn’t even know the names of their EHR software. Sad, but true. The only question for McKesson is will Paragon get sold off next?

For those that aren’t familiar with the history of e-MDs, it was purchased by Marlin Equity Partners back in March 2015 and merged with Marlin’s MDeverywhere company. Marlin then went on to acquire AdvancedMD from ADP in August of 2015 as they started to stock pile ambulatory EHR vendors. With the acquisition of the McKesson assets, Marlin now owns a large number of ambulatory EHR vendors.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone. We all knew that 300 EHR vendors wasn’t sustainable long term and we know that the EHR market has matured now that the false market meaningful use created is over. Some consolidation was bound to happen and it’s no surprise that a private equity firm is rolling up these companies as they seek to find the benefits of scale. The press release notes that the combined company’s products and services are being used by nearly 55,000 providers nationwide after this latest acquisition. That’s quite a presence in the ambulatory space.

The unfortunate downside of this type of EHR roll up is that not all of these EHR software can survive under one roof. Some of them have got to go. The only question is which one(s) will survive. Unlike EHR vendor founders, private equity companies are disconnected from the original product and so it doesn’t hurt as much for them to shut down a weaker product line as they consolidate users on to what they consider the best software. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see this happen with a number of EHR software that are now under e-MD’s (and Marlin’s) roof.

I also won’t be surprised if Marlin and e-MDs continue with more acquisitions. There are still a few hundred other ambulatory EHR vendors out there.

What Does e-MDs and AdvancedMD Under the Same Private Equity Mean?

Posted on August 11, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The healthcare IT world has seen a lot of movement and investment lately. Kareo raised $55 million recently. Modernizing Medicine acquired gMed last month. Accolade secured $22.5 million in funding. medCPU closed $8 million in financing. BoardVitals raised $1.1 million to build the Wikipedia of Medicine. Premier acquired CECity. Plus, that doesn’t even mention the $1 billion acquisition of Merge healthcare by IBM. I’m sure that there are many more that people can share in the comments.

There’s a lot of investment going into healthcare IT. No doubt there’s a huge opportunity for health IT companies. However, I’ve been most interested in what’s happening with the EHR companies involved in these deals. For example, one recent transaction that I didn’t mention above was Marlin Equity Partners acquiring AdvancedMD from ADP. The ADP acquisition of AdvancedMD never seemed to work. The idea of doctors offices being small businesses and ADP offered a bunch of small business services kind of made sense, but most doctors offices treat their EHR purchase very different than other tech investments for their office. The EHR purchase is its own beast. So, it’s not surprising that ADP would divest itself of an EHR software company.

What’s more interesting about the deal is that Marlin Equity Partners had already acquired EHR vendor e-MDs in March of 2015 and merged it with MDEverywhere. Now Marlin Equity Partners has e-MDs and AdvancedMD under their umbrella. I asked them what their plans were now that they had two EHR vendors (competitors) in their portfolio. They declined to comment until the acquisition of AdvancedMD closed.

Something has to give. I can’t imagine Marlin Equity Partners continuing with two software companies. Hard to say whether e-MDs will win or AdvancedMD, but I expect we’ll see one of them being sunset in the next year or two. They’ll offerer a way to convert from one to the other, but switching EHR software is never fun. It’s even less fun when it’s being forced upon you by the vendor.

The crazy thing is that I think we’re just getting started with this kind of activity. 300 EHR vendors is not sustainable long term. I don’t think we’ll get to 5 EHR vendors like most suggest, but we could narrow it down to 100 and still have plenty of options. That’s a lot of doctors being left high and dry when their EHR gets consolidated.

A Thoughtful Approach to EHR Implementation – 5 Tips

Posted on May 9, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

While many in the EHR industry have started moving beyond EHR implementation, it’s worth realizing that only 55% of physicians have adopted an electronic health record (EHR). Yes, that means that 45% of physicians are still working on selecting and adopting an EHR. Ok, it’s probably more like 40% of doctors are looking to implement an EHR. The other 5% will stick with their paper.

Plus, along with the 45% of doctors who don’t use EHR, there are a whole slew of existing EHR users that are selecting and implementing an EHR as well. For example, 2 days ago I was at my son’s cub scout event where an opthamologist friend of mine cornered me and asked me about how he should go about selecting an EHR for his practice. He had just decided to go out on his own and open his own opthamology practice. What a perfect time to select and implement an EHR.

With this in mind, today I came across this whitepaper by ADP AdvancedMD called A Thoughtful Approach to EHR Implementation. They provide a number of stats, charts, and graphs using data from the CDC about EHR satisfaction and EHR use. The most intriguing number to me was the number of physicians that reported accessing the patient chart remotely using their EHR. That’s an EHR benefit that I don’t see talked about very often.

The whitepaper also offered these 5 tips for a successful EHR Implementation:

  1. Stay committed to your goal, but flexible in your approach
  2. Don’t short-change your training opportunities
  3. Don’t underestimate the impact to your workflow
  4. To pilot or not to pilot
  5. Optimizing the EHR

A lot more could be said about each point and they cover each point in detail in the full whitepaper, but the first and third ones really stand out to me. EHR is a commitment, but requires some flexibility. The best way to have a failed EHR implementation is to not be committed or to be inflexible. Your workflow will be impacted, but if you take a thoughtful approach to your EHR implementation it can be impacted for good.

EMR and EHR Whitepapers

Posted on April 23, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For a while I’ve been considering how the Healthcare Scene network of blogs can provide an EMR, EHR and healthcare IT whitepaper service. Over the many years I’ve been blogging about EMR and EHR, I’ve seen a lot of really valuable whitepapers created by the various EHR vendors. The time required to create a whitepaper is lengthy and for someone looking for an in depth look at a subject, a whitepaper is a nice option.

With that in mind I recently launched a new EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT whitepaper portal. We’re just getting started with the healthcare whitepaper portal, but we’ll be growing the content that’s available there over time. We’ll also be including a nice sidebar widget for those interested in the latest whitepapers we have to offer and we’ll embed a list of whitepapers in the email subscription as well.

We already have a number of great whitepapers available. For example, athenahealth created this whitepaper on Making the Switch: Replacing Your EHR for More Money and More Control. We’ve often talked about EMR switching becoming a very popular and important topic. This whitepaper helps a practice considering the EMR switch to go through an analysis of why to switch EMR or not.

Another whitepaper by NextGen is called The tips and tools to help you on the path to MU (Meaningful Use) and beyond. Considering less than 50% of providers have attested to meaningful use, this could be useful to many. It contains a lot of great resource links and some tips on how to approach meaningful use. If you’re looking at meaningful use stage 2, check out this one from AdvancedMD called Achieving Stage 2 Meaningful Use in Private Practice.

Those are just a few examples. You can find many more of them on this EMR and EHR whitepaper library page. I look forward to adding a lot more interesting whitepapers in the future. Hopefully you’ll find the content valuable.

Around Healthcare Scene: ADP AdvancedMD, Care360 EHR/EMR Screenshots, 24/7 Flu Hotline, and Tricorder X Prize

Posted on January 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Here is a quick look at some of the other articles recently posted on some of the other HealthcareScene.com websites:

EHR and EMR Videos
Software Demo of ADP AdvancedMD + EMA Ophthalmology
This medical billing and EHR software demo presents how medical practices can use ADP AdvancedMD as their practice management to collect more money, faster. EMA for ophthalmology helps doctors utilize an iPad to manage clinical charting and see more patients faster. A software bridge (data integration) has been built to help staff work faster without doing double data entry.

HIMSS Analytics: Data, Research and Consulting for Healthcare IT

Gain a deeper, more vibrant understanding of the HIT space through HIMSS Analytics. Knowing who needs what, when they need it and who to contact will enable you to sell proactively to receptive customers. Our market intelligence will help you optimize your marketing and sales strategies to advance the future of healthcare.

Steve Hinajosa Explains Advantages of DocBook MD 3.0

Travis County Medical Society Membership Director, Steven Hinojosa explains why local county Medical Societies should be interested in DocBookMD 3.0.

EHR and EMR Screenshots

The links below represent screenshots from the Care360 EHR/EMR including images from the EHR, the iPad app, and the mobile app.  Do you think it is necessary for EHRs to use multiple platforms for access, or is it unnecessary vanity?

Screenshots from the Care360 EHR/EMR

iPad App Screenshots from the Care360 EHR/EMR

Care360 EHR/EMR Mobile App Screenshots

Smart Phone Health Care

Consult A Doctor Offers 24/7 Flu Hotline That Costs Less than $40

Flu season is generally miserable for everyone.  Even if you don’t actually get sick you spend half your time avoiding the people who are sick.  Then you start to get symptoms but you wait as long as humanly possible to actually see a doctor because it is so expensive and time-consuming.  Consult A Doctor is releasing a new service designed to change all of that.

Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize Offering $10 Million Prize to Developers

We all remember those awesome little tricorders from the Star Trek series that could analyze a person’s level of health almost immediately.  All the doctor had to do was push a button and he immediately knew exactly what he needed to do to help the person.

Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation have announced a development competition designed to create just such a device.  The two CEO’s of the respective companies, Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm Foundation Chair and Qualcomm Incorporated Chairman and CEO, and X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO Dr. Peter Diamandis, announced during the keynote address at CES that the prize would be $10 million dollars.

Yet Another Top EMR List

Posted on June 5, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

As any reader of this blog would know, there may be more EMR rankings out there than there are EMRs themselves. Of course, some lists are taken more seriously than others — KLAS comes to mind — but these days, with the money flowing, virtually everyone who can make a PDF is dipping an oar into the EMR ranking game.

The following list, from a a site called Business-Software.com, is particularly cute in that it would appear to be entirely bought and paid for by vendors — there’s nary a critical analysis to be found in the paper.  (Most of the lists I’ve seen at least pretend to be neutral.)

That being said, I still thought it might stimulate conversation among us to share the list.  I’d love to hear whether you think Business-Software.com has provided any value here, and whether you’ve had particularly good (or bad) experiences with listed EMR sellers.

Here’s Business-Software.com’s list, seemingly in no particular order. Where available there’s a link to get a demo/price quote from the vendors on the list courtesy of Medical Software Advice.

* AdvancedMD: Provides Web-based practice management, medical billing and scheduling software as well as an EMR. Includes a patient portal, e-prescribing and mobile access option.

*  Allscripts: Offers EHRs, practice management, revenue cycle management, document management, e-prescribing. Focuses on emergency department and care management systems for hospitals. Get Price of EMR Vendor EMR Vendor Demo

* Greenway: Offers EHR, integrated with practice management system, along with a database integrating clinical, financial and administrative data. Get Price of EMR Vendor EMR Vendor Demo

* Sage: Products include practice management, EHR, document and image management and point-of-care documentation.

* Aprima: Company offers EHR, practice management and revenue cycle management products, all aimed at medical practices. Get Price of EMR Vendor EMR Vendor Demo

* Kareo: Focuses on small medical practices. Key products include Web-based EHR, medical billing and practice management offerings.

* Abraxas Medical Solutions: Sells unified EMR and practice management solution. Product is powered by a single Microsoft-SQL database.

* Celerity Solutions Group: Provides EHR conversion and systems integration solutions to both large and small medical practices.

* NextGen Healthcare: Offers a very wide range of products, including EHRs for physicians, hospitals, health centers and healthcare providers, as well as practice management and financial management systems, HIE and patient portal options. Get Price of EMR Vendor EMR Vendor Demo

* meridianEMR: EMR focused specifically on urology specialists, as well as a product aimed at general surgery.

What bothers me about this list, by the by, is that while it’s almost certainly a series of advertisements, that’s not marked anywhere.

While physicians aren’t dummies by any means, my guess is that some might get sucked in by any list that says “top” in it if they’re feeling desperate enough.  Here’s hoping physicians catch on to the bias here.

An Intriguing Twist, EMR And Payroll Vendor Come Together

Posted on March 2, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Today I caught wind of an interesting deal, in which giant payroll services vendor ADP acquired EMR/practice management vendor AdvancedMD.  Here’s how the two justify the deal:

“By leveraging the collective offering of AdvancedMD’s PM and EHR solutions, and combining that with ADP’s full set of services and long-standing history of serving medical professionals, ADP is now uniquely positioned as an integrated, single-source provider of Medical Practice Optimization.”

I’m not sure what they mean by “Medical Practice Optimization,” though it is a keen and catchy phrase, but let’s hazard a guess, shall we?

Even if high-deductible health plans never capture a large segment of the insured population, doctors still want their co-pays and deductibles immediately. This, of course, would not be handled by an EMR.

However, I can visualize some hybrid in which real-time care feedback from EMR improves the input into the practice management system, which improves coding and ultimately, improves the accuracy of patient billing.  Add real-time claims processing to the mix, and you’ve got the know-how for some greatly improved cash flow for practices.

However, I doubt it will be easy to roll up the knowledge an ADP has with a wide range of EMRs, so this may be a blip on the map. Though AdvancedMD is apparently used by 4,100 practices, they have more than a bit of competition for the small- to mid-sized EMR market, no?

In any event, I’m left wondering whether we’ll have revenue cycle management firms, banks or other financial entities buying EMRs. This could be worth watching.