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Independent Clinical Archive Brings Complete Patient Record Together in One Place

Posted on October 27, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Tim Kaschinske, Senior Product Manager, North America, BridgeHead Software.

How many photos and documents do you have stored on your home computer or in the cloud? How easily would it be to find those photos of, say, the family beach vacation you took in 2010? What about the trip in 2001? Most of us would have to search blindly through scores of electronic file folders and myriad devices before finding what we need.

Now think about your physicians who need to access historical patient information, such as baseline mammograms, medication history, lab results or the course of a patient’s cancer treatment. Nearly every hospital is on its second or third EMR, and any new EMR vendor wants as little previous data to come over from legacy systems as possible to help ensure a “clean” install. So that leaves physicians and assistants poring through older EMRs, or other applications and media to find needed data. This takes time away from direct patient care, an increasingly critical consideration in value-based care arrangements.

But that older information still has value, for both patient care as well as for regulatory reasons. The problem, then, is how to store, protect and share that information in a way it remains readily accessible, available and readable even as technology changes.

Disparate data, common archive

The answer is an independent clinical archive (ICA) that can accept disparate data from multiple systems such as an EMR or a PACS and store it using open data standards commonly found in healthcare. An ICA does not replace an EMR or a PACS – it works in concert with them, allowing a hospital to formally retire previous EMRs, PACS and other IT systems while ensuring the electronic patient data contained within lives on as part of the 360-degree patient view. This saves money on licensing fees, storage costs and IT personnel costs to maintain and update rarely used technology.

An ICA is a centralized, standards-based data repository that ingests disparate data types such as DICOM images, HL7 reports, physician notes and other unstructured data. Information is managed based on unique patient information and further subdivided by specialty or date, for example. The ICA works best when integrated with a hospital’s EMR (via an application programming interface (API)), allowing providers to seamlessly compile a complete, longitudinal patient record without having to remember additional log-ins.

APIs are also used to connect to multiple legacy systems. However, security protocols on legacy systems are not as stringent as they are with newer technology, leaving hospitals potentially vulnerable to accidental or intentional data breaches. A hospital using an ICA as a central data repository only requires APIs among the ICA, the EMR and the PACS. Plus, the ICA has built-in security and protection features to ensure the safeguarding of critical patient data.

A true, 360-degree patient view

When an ICA is properly implemented, providers access the information being populated from the EMR and the information coming from the ICA through one system and in the appropriate context for the patient. And that’s the holy grail of patient information: one environment aggregating all of the information outlining chronic conditions, physician notes, medications, diagnoses, surgeries and much more.

And if a physician needs to drill down into radiology reports, for instance, he can pull up just that data. Finding information about a specific hospitalization is as easy as inputting the correct date range to locate just those records.

While Software-as-a-Service revolutionized the delivery of IT services, an ICA can revolutionize the way physicians find all of the data they need, quickly and within their normal workflows. At the same time, hospitals can save money and increase data security by retiring older electronic systems.

EHR Change Doesn’t Always Mean Better

Posted on August 1, 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.

In the comments of my post “EHR Replacement Roadmap to Success“, John Brewer provided a great reminder that changing EHR software doesn’t always mean that you’ll change to a better EHR. You might change to something worse. At least that’s my summary of his comments. You can read his full comment if you want.

I’ve learned this lesson over and over in my career. Sometimes you need to be content with what you have. One example of this was when I was working at a University in Hawaii. I was quite disappointed with the CIO and thought that he could do a lot of things different. Well, I got my wish and the CIO was replaced with someone else. Considering the topic of this blog post, you can imagine what happened next. The replacement CIO was so much worse than the previous CIO. Lesson learned.

Change doesn’t always mean a change for the better. It can certainly mean a change for the worse.

This applies fully to EHR replacement, which is quickly becoming a hot topic as many people regret their EHR purchase decision. You do need to be careful that you’re so afraid of change that you never change. In many situations change is the right decision. Plus, unlike my story where I had little control over who was hired as the new CIO, when you switch EHR software you can have some impact on the selection and end results. In many cases, you might even discover that you shouldn’t switch EHR before it’s too late.

I expect most people who think they need to switch EHR need to be careful to not set a predetermined course early in the process. Instead of saying, “Which EHR should I switch to?” I believe that many should dig deeper into the question, “If I switched EHR software, what would improve?”

As I replied to John Brewer in the post linked above, it is often (but not always) the case that the second EHR selected goes better than the first. I’ve found that the first “failed” EHR implementation usually teaches some great (albeit costly) lessons that they’re able to avoid the second time around. However, there is a tendency the second time around to focus too much on the first EHR issues that can cause different trouble the second time around. As in most things, there’s a balance to be had.

My best suggestion is to not do anything too impulsive. Let the idea sit and germinate a little before you do anything too drastic. Emotional decisions with EHR software selection (and quite frankly many other decisions) often leads to bad outcomes.