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EHRs Weren’t Designed to Influence the Practice of Medicine

Posted on April 15, 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.

I was going through some old notes from a conference and found an interesting note from a meeting I had with Ensocare at ANI 2014 (Yep, I have lots of notes like this that I’m enjoying reading) that said, “EHRs were never designed to influence the practice of medicine.” Obviously this much later I’m not sure of the context of the comment, but it still really resonates with me today. I assume Ensocare’s perspective was that EHRs weren’t designed to influence care, but that’s what they were trying to accomplish.

It’s a fascinating observation which makes me wonder how many healthcare IT companies goals are to truly influence care. It calls back to my post last month about what it really takes to move the needle in healthcare IT. It’s kind of amazing to think that EHR software wasn’t designed to move the clinical care needle. You could argue that they wanted to move the business process automation needle. You could also argue that EHRs moved the reimbursement needle. Although the problem with moving the reimbursement needle is that it might be great for doctors to get paid more than they were before, but that translates to increased costs to the healthcare system as a whole. I think we’ve largely seen that play out and now they’re trying to deal with it.

As I said in the post linked above, I think that some EHR vendors have backed themselves into a place where they can influence the practice of medicine. However, very few of them were designed to really influence the practice of medicine. It was much easier to solve the business process automation issues and plenty of money to be made by doing so. It’s much harder to actually improve the practice of medicine.

Looking forward, I’m thinking about what type of software company could come along that would disrupt the current batch of EHR software. We could have some technology or mix of technology that continues along the business process automation path. Don’t underestimate the power of a solution like this. However, I wonder what mix of technology solutions could really influence the practice of medicine. Imagine an “EHR” software that was so useful and so powerful that if you chose not to use it you’d be at major risk for medical malpractice.

That’s a really high bar to achieve. However, once you get over that bar, it makes it hard for competitors to enter that space. So, it would be worth the effort. My only fear is that given the current climate, would anyone believe a company that says they’ve created something that will dramatically improve patient care?

In the first crop of EHR software I believe there was a disconnect in the marketing. I don’t think many EHR vendors claimed to improve patient care. They didn’t need to claim it. However, the disconnect was that many of those that purchased EHR software drew their own conclusions on an EHR’s ability to improve patient care. Now, most of these people have been burnt by the idea that an EHR could truly improve patient care. That’s going to be a hard perception to change.

Coming full circle, I imagine that’s why Ensocare and hundreds of other companies that really do want to use technology to move the needle on patient care aren’t calling their solutions EHR software. They have to use a different brand. All of that said, I’m interested in finding more health IT companies that are brave enough to take on the challenge of improving patient care. Which companies do you know that are working on this goal?

Patient Billing Experience is Tied to HCAHP Scores

Posted on October 22, 2014 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.

I first heard about this earlier this year when I met with ZirMed at ANI. Since then, I keep hearing this concept over and over and so it’s finally time for me to create a blog post on the topic. How you bill a patient has a tremendous impact on patient satisfaction and therefore your HCAHP scores.

When you read that, I’m sure you’re thinking “Well duh! Of course it does.” While it’s obvious once it’s stated, I don’t know many organizations that are working to improve their HCAHP scores by improving their patient billing processes. I have seen a lot of programs that look at the patient experience getting checked in, while their in the hospital, and how their discharge goes. Unfortunately, many organizations seem to stop one step short of the finish line. It’s like running 25 miles of a 26 mile marathon. The patient bill is the last mile of that journey.

The final experience a patient has with a hospital is usually when they get the bill from the hospital. There are so many ways this can be a terrible experience for the patient. If the charges are a lot more than what the patient expects, they’ll have a bad experience. If it’s not clear what charges they owe and whether insurance has paid their portion or not, they’ll have a bad experience. If they see the $5 aspirin (yes, that’s representative of charges that don’t make logical sense to the average patient), then it can damage their experience. If there’s no way to pay the bill online, it can leave a bad taste in the mouth for many. If it’s not clear what the bill is charging for, it can cause a bad experience. I could go on, but you get the idea.

All of these issues (and no doubt there are plenty more) have no impact on the care the patient received. In fact, your doctors and nurses could have provided an amazing customer service and literally worked miracles to save the patients life. However, if the billing experience is bad, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth and that will show up when they’re rating your hospital.

No doubt there are plenty of edge cases that we’ll never be able to satisfy. However, there’s a lot more we can do with our medical billing processes to ensure that the experience is a lot better than what it is today. Your HCAHP scores shouldn’t suffer because you didn’t take the time to make your billing process as beautiful as your clinical care.