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Industry Tries To Steamroll Physician Complaints About EMR Impact On Patient Face Time

Posted on June 9, 2015 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.

Some doctors — and a goodly number of consumers, too — argue that the use of EMRs inevitably impairs the relationship between doctors and patients. After all, it’s just common sense that forcing a doctor to glue herself to the keyboard during an encounter undercuts that doctor’s ability to assess the patient, critics say.

Of course, EMR vendors don’t necessarily agree. And some researchers don’t share that view either. But having reviewed some comments by a firm studying physician EMR use, and the argument an EMR vendor made that screen-itis doesn’t worry docs, it seems to me that the “lack of face time” complaint remains an important one.

Consider how some analysts are approaching the issue. While admitting that one-third to one-half of the time doctors spend with patients is spent using an EMR, and that physicians have been complaining about this extensively over the past several years, doctors are at least using these systems more efficiently, reports James Avallone, Director of Physician Research, who spoke with EHRIntelligence.com.

What’s important is that doctors are getting adjusted to using EMRs, Avallone suggests:

Whether [time spent with EMRs] is too much or too little, it’s difficult for us to say from our perspective…It’s certainly something that physicians are getting used to as it becomes more ingrained in their day-to-day behaviors. They’ve had more time to streamline workflow and that’s something that we’re seeing in terms of how these devices are being used at the point of care.

Another attempt to minimize the impact of EMRs on patient encounters comes from ambulatory EMR vendor NueMD. In a recent blog post, the editor quoted a study suggesting that other issues were far more important to doctors:

According to a 2013 study published in Health Affairs, only 25.8 percent of physicians reported that EHRs were threatening the doctor-patient relationship. Administrative burdens like the ICD-10 transition and HIPAA compliance regulations, on the other hand, were noted by more than 41 percent of those surveyed.

It’s certainly true that doctors worry about HIPAA and ICD-10 compliance, and that they could threaten the patient relationship, but only to the extent that they affect the practice overall. Meanwhile, if one in four respondents to the Health Affairs study said that EMRs were a threat to patient relationships, that should be taken quite seriously.

Of course, both of the entities quoted in this story are entitled to their perspective. And yes, there are clearly benefits to physician use of EMRs, especially once they become adjusted to the interface and workflow.

But if this quick sample of opinions is any indication, the healthcare industry as a whole seems to be blowing past physicians’ (and patients’) well-grounded concerns about the role EMR documentation plays in patient visits.

Someday, a new form factor for EMRs will arise — maybe augmented or virtual reality encounters, for example — which will alleviate the eyes-on-the-screen problem. Until then, I’d submit, it’s best to tackle the issue head on, not brush it off.

ICD-10 Survey Results: ICD-10 Business Areas of Concern

Posted on June 4, 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.

Pretty regularly, NueMD does a survey of medical practices that produces some great insights into the small practice world. This year they decided to survey medical practices about ICD-10. They’ve posted the ICD-10 survey results for those interested in really diving into the detailed survey results. They had a total of 1000 responses from primarily small and medium-sized medical practices. That sample size always gives me a little more trust in the survey.

As I looked through their ICD-10 survey results, this is the chart that really stood out to me:
ICD-10 Business Areas of Concern
The thing that attracted me to this chart first is that it highlights a number of areas where a medical practice might be concerned when it comes to ICD-10 readiness. Are you doing the right ICD-10 training and education? Have you done payer testing? Have you budgeted in any software upgrade costs that may be required to meet ICD-10? How about claims processing? Are you ready? Will you be ready by the ICD-10 deadline? These are all good questions that every organization should be asking themselves as we move towards Oct 1 (ICD-10 implementation date for those following along at home).

The second reason I love this chart is that it shows you where organizations are most concerned. I was not surprised to see that many are really afraid of how claims processing is going to go during the transition to ICD-10. What are you and your organization doing to prepare for this? It’s going to be a really big deal for many organizations and could cause them massive cash flow issues if things go bad.

The second highest was Training and Education. This is an extremely challenging one for small practices in particular. Plus, the timing is hard as well. If you train them too early, they’ll forget it come Oct 1st. If you wait to long to do the ICD-10 training, then you might not have time to train everyone that needs to be ready. I’ve seen most organizations training earlier and then doing short refresher courses or content as they get closer.

I’m planning to do another ICD-10 post soon to talk about predictions on whether ICD-10 will go forward or not. So, watch for that in the future. However, I think organizations that aren’t acting as if it’s going forward are playing a game of Russian roulette. They’re certainly braver than I’d be if I were running a healthcare organization.

Practice Fusion Announces 3 Billing Partners

Posted on May 29, 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.

With the news of Mitochon shutting down their Free EHR business, that really only leaves a couple players left in the Free EHR space. The largest one is Practice Fusion, but it has challenges of its own. You might remember the announcement that Kareo bought the Epocrates EHR and is offering the EHR for free.

You could tell that Practice Fusion was put in a bad position when Kareo decided to basically part ways and offer a competitive product to Practice Fusion. Although, no doubt Practice Fusion and Kareo both knew it was going to happen sooner or later. The key question was how Practice Fusion was going to respond to the move by Kareo since Practice Fusion was sorely lacking in the billing department.

Well, the answer is now in. Practice Fusion just announced 3 preferred billing partners: NueMD, CollaborateMD and ADP AdvancedMD. You can see NueMD’s press release about the partnership here. Both NueMD and CollaborateMD are offering their billing solution starting at $149/month. ADP AdvancedMD offers “customized pricing” which means they don’t want to commit to a price and likely change the price based on the size of the practice.

The Practice Fusion announcement I got did say that these integrations will happen “later this summer.”

It’s an interesting choice on Practice Fusion’s part to continue down the integration road versus developing their own billing software or just buying one of the billing software that’s out there. I wonder if this is going to pose a long term problem for them. I wonder if Practice Fusion learned from the Kareo experience and the contracts with NueMD, CollaborateMD, and ADP AdvancedMD take this into account.

No doubt Practice Fusion comes at the EHR world with a different business model in mind, but it could be a mistake for them to not also have a hand in the purse strings (billing). Sure, they’ll get some short term financial bump from these three partnerships, but are they trading revenue for long term connections with the doctors?