Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and EHR for FREE!

Few Practices Rely Solely On EMR Analytics Tools To Wrangle Data

Posted on May 23, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

A new survey done by a trade group representing medical practices has concluded that only a minority of practices are getting full use of their EMR’s analytics tools.

The survey, which was reported on by Becker’s Hospital Review, was conducted by the Medical Group Management Association.  The MGMA’s survey called on about 900 of its members to ask how their practices used EMRs for analytics.

First, and most unexpectedly in today’s data-driven world, 11 percent of respondents said that they don’t analyze their EMR data at all.

Thirty-one percent of respondents told MGMA that they use all of their EMR’s analytical capabilities, and 22 percent of respondents said they used some of their EMR’s analytics capabilities.

Another 31 percent reported that they were using both their EMR’s analytics tools and tools from an external vendor. Meanwhile, 5 percent said they used only an external vendor for data analytics.

According to Derek Kosiorek, CPEHR, CPHIT, principal consultant with MGMA’s Health Care Consulting Group, the survey results aren’t as surprising as they may seem. In fact, few groups are likely to get  everything they need from EMR data, he notes.

“Many practices do not have the resources to mine the data and organize it in ways to create new insights from the clinical, administrative and financial information being captured daily,” said Kosiorek in a related blog post. “Even if your practice has the staff with the knowledge and time to create reports, the system often requires an add-on product sold by the vendor or an outside product or service to analyze the data.”

However, he predicts that this will change in the near future. Not only will EMR analytics help groups to tame their internal data, it will also aggregate data from varied community settings such as the emergency department, outpatient care and nursing homes, he suggests. He also expects to see analytics tools offer a perspective on care issues brought by regional data for similar patients.

At this point I’m going to jump in and pick up the mic. While I haven’t seen anyone from MGMA comment on this, I think this data – and Kosiorek’s comments in particular – underscore the tension between population health models and day-to-day medical practice. Specifically, they remind us that doctors and regional health systems naturally have different perspectives on why and how they use data.

On the one hand there’s medical practices which, from what I’ve seen, are of necessity practical. These providers want first and foremost to make individual patients feel good and if sick get better. If that can be done safely and effectively I doubt most care about how they do it. Sure, doctors are aware of pop health issues, but those aren’t and can’t be their priority in most cases.

Then, you have hospitals, health systems and ACOs, which are already at the forefront of population health management. For them, having a consistent and comprehensive set of tools for analyzing clinical data across their network is becoming job one. That’s far removed from focusing on day-to-day patient care.

It’s all well and good to measure whether physicians use EMR analytics tools or not. The real issue is whether large health organizations and practices can develop compatible analytics goals.

Who Are You Leaving Out Of Your EMR Plans?

Posted on April 11, 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 knows, it takes a lot of consensus building to successfully implement an EMR, whether you’re rolling it out across a large health system or within a small medical practice.

The thing is, I get the sense that many of the day-to-day staffers who will have to live with the EMR system aren’t consulted during the acquisition process, or only at best, only get to participate late in the game.

I’ll remind readers up front that I’m a journalist, not an EMR consultant, but from what I’ve seen, the following healthcare professionals seldom get much input into EMR decision-making:

– Front-line nurses

– Nurse managers

– Billing managers

– Coding professionals

– Medical practice managers

– Day-to-day IT support staff

– Medical assistants

While admittedly, some of these players play a more central role in patient care than others, they all have a window into what the EMR should deliver.  And if you asked them to review the vendor demo, examine the features and pose some questions, they might find issues that you hadn’t anticipated.

They might also note process problems that you weren’t aware of which, even if they can’t be solved by the EMR itself, may never come up for discussion during the normal course of business.

All told, my sense is that if a hospital or medical practice circulated questionnaires asking a broad range of staffers what the EMR should do, and what’s not working in the current environment, they’d make better decisions and learn a lot about their organizations along the way.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen much, as healthcare is still lamentably hierarchical and riddled with inefficient top-down decision making. But hey, the idea’s worth a mention…