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Meaningful Use Audit Costs, Email and HIPAA, and OpenEMR

Posted on April 7, 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.


Reports like this one and others are what scare many organizations when it comes to meaningful use. Reminds me of the post I did about EHR penalties after Meaningful Use failure. These crazy meaningful use audit experiences should scare many people. If you’ve attested to meaningful use you should read the article above to learn more about the MU audit process. I expect many aren’t ready. The article does make the auditors sound like they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s the worst thing in an audit.


I assume that 9/23 is a HIPAA Omnibus date. I bet there’s a lot of PHI going over email right now that shouldn’t be. It could be a big issue if the institution hasn’t gotten it under control.


I love open source, so I’m always glad to hear about good progress from the open source EMR community. OpenEMR has long been a leader in that area when it comes to ambulatory EMR.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 61-65

Posted on August 15, 2011 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.

Time for the second entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I hope you’re enjoying the series.

65. Don’t forget LEAN and Six-Sigma
I can’t say I’ve ever heard of someone in the ambulatory EHR market using LEAN or Six-Sigma. Maybe it could apply. I’m not sure since I’ve never done it. So, I can’t really comment on it either way. Although, I’ve heard some people who love both. I’d be interested to hear readers thoughts on this tip.

64. Remember the EMR is not the end-all, be-all of quality
EMR is just an EMR. It’s what you do with your EMR that matters. I always to suggest deciding what you want to accomplish with your EMR before you implement it. Then, you have a measure to select an EMR. Goals when you’re implementing the EMR and measures when you’re evaluating your EMR implementation.

63. Ensure the product has expandability for other service lines
Are you planning to expand? Is there any possibility to expand? Make sure your EMR can expand with you. Switching EHR is terrible.

62. What are the reporting skill sets necessary
Making sure the EMR you select has the reporting you need is a given. Knowing how many people on the planet have the skills needed to run those reports is even more important. It’s never fun to be at the whim of the EMR vendor to get the data that you need.

61. Don’t be afraid of low cost or open source products
Open source EMR has come a long way and is a reasonable option to consider for many. Just be sure to calculate the other costs related to using open source software since you won’t have to pay for the software itself, but you might have to pay for other development, integration and/or support.

If you want to see my analysis of the other 101 EMR and EHR tips, I’ll be updating this page with my 101 EMR and EHR tips analysis. So, click on that link to see the other EMR tips.

Certified Open Source EHR

Posted on August 10, 2011 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’ve been writing about the various open source EHR software options for about 5.5 years right now. I’ve been intrigued with open source for much longer, so it just made natural sense for one of the first things for me to look at would be the various open source EHR options.

5.5 years ago the open source EHR market (although EHR really wasn’t in vogue yet back then) had a solid foundation, but still had quite a ways to go for it to be a great option for doctors interested in an open source EHR option.

I haven’t done an in depth look at the various open source EHR options for a while (I should), but I think the fact that many open source EHR software are now certified EHR and can help physicians show meaningful use and receive EHR incentive money is a good sign. Most of you know that I’m not a big fan of EHR certification, but I do believe that EHR certification takes a certain level of commitment to be able to achieve. Therefore, I think it’s a great sign that the open source EHR options have enough steam and commitment behind them to become certified EHR.

A recent Open Health News post listed the following certified open source EHR:
Ambulatory Open Source EHR
ClearHealth
OpenEMR
Tolven eCHR
Vista (inpatient) Open Source EHR
WorldVistA EHR
OpenVistA
vxVistA
Other (inpatient) Open Source EHR
Indian Health Services’ RPMS

I’d love to hear reviews and experiences that people have working with open source EHR software.

Interesting Updates on Free Vista EMR

Posted on November 24, 2009 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 previously did a post about some of the problems with Vista-FM. I considered that it was different than Vista, but wasn’t sure completely. The beauty of blogging is that when you make mistakes smart people come and correct you in the comments. This is one of those times. Plus, along with helping me understand the difference between Vista and Vista-FM Chris Richardson, provides an update on some of the other things happening with the open source community around Vista. I don’t agree with everything he says, but it’s definitely interesting. The following is Chris’ comment:

You jumped at the wrong conclusion when you jumped on VistA as being the faulty item here. What has failed is the “-FM” portion of the GAO report, the Foundation Modernization. You see, VistA is NOT VistA-FM. VistA-FM is the effort to dismantel VistA. Just like all of the other Attempts in the past nearly 20 years, these efforts are under-functioned, over-priced, and way over their delivery schedule. A mere fraction of the cost of what has been expended to replace VistA would have made VistA able to totally out-class every other approach to EHRs. There is work currently going on in the Open Source community to extend VistA and it is working very well. Here are some of the projects that are currently on the way or already in production;

Lab, while the VA is outsourceing to Cerner (with interesting results), the rest of the community outside the VA is continuing on with enhancements and options that will make it easier to install and higher functioning as well as affordable to nearly everyone.

Continuity of Care Records and Data (CCR/CCD) while this standard is a bit anemic, it does promise that we might be able to project all of the VistA databases to other systems or accession data from others.

Holographic EHR – This is one of our concepts, basically you could think of it as “VistA for One” (or a small group of patients), a self consistent subset of the parent VistA environment which could be booted separately. The self-consistent “VistA for One” becomes a mechanism for complete transfer of patient data from one site to another with merge capability. It also becomes an in-hand user copy of his records which can be protected via a network keying system which registers the data set, and records the efforts to open the data set and by whom, and who is attempting to accession the data to what target VistA system.

CPRS
This is fun. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard, we need to keep CPRS, but get rid of VistA. The engine behind CPRS IS VistA. Without VistA, CPRS is a screen-saver. The Open Source Community is making enhancements for the CPRS/VistA environments. There is another group that is working on the webification of VistA with open source tools.

By the way, I worked on the proposal team for CHCS-I and we used MUMPS to build interfaces for various other vendors to communicate with each other. In fact, the MUMPS interfaces worked better than the Clover-leaf connection engines.

There is a reason that the Subject Matter Expert developed systems of the VA, DoD, and IHS have been so effective and difficult to replace. VistA is a whole enterprise solution that the vendors hope you never find out about. The vendors focus on dismantling VistA to provide a new niche to build “customer loyalty” (make it too painful and expensive to move to something else so the customer is essentually stuck with the vendor’s solution only. With the VistA model the SMEs are the folks at the point of care, and not a programmer who has never spent an hour in a hospital, yet is charged with the setting of policy for the hospital in his interpretation of the requirements (which may or may not reflect the intent of the SMEs).

By having VistA as Open Source, this means that the cost of doing development has dropped right into the basement. Success can be tried in a thousand places, but with Open Source, as soon as someone comes up with an enhancement or corrects a problem, the change can go out to the rest of the World. The best of breed solutions float to the top to be applied everywhere.

You know, VistA is still running the VA hosptials for over 30 years, don’t you think that if the vendors could have replaced it, they would have? They have tried and gotten paid well for the attempts. But this is part of the problem. There is no incentive to ever complete a task or attempt because then the paydays end. This is why they have confused the community with the use of VistA-FM, use their failures as justification to try to replace VistA yet again.

Let’s take a look at some of these magnificent failures. How about the replacement of IFCAP (the financial part of VistA) with Core-FLS. Now get this. The VA developed IFCAP (by the way, it was not vendors who did this work, it was the VA SMEs who did the daily work of inventory and supply and finance) and owned the code. The VA paid nothing for the code other than the VA programmers and SME’s time. Then they were going to replace it with a package which would only have to do 30% of what IFCAP did. Congress committed $470 million to replace something the VA already owned with something that had less functionality but was more glossy and the VA would have to pay big bucks to the vendor to support. The roll-out of the product was done at Bay Pines VA Medical Center and was so bad that they had to close elective surgery. The vendor spent over half the money just to install the first site and the project was mercifully stopped and IFCAP was re-installed. So much for modernization. This is not an isolated incident.

There was the Spanish Pharmacy labels. Peurto Rico and many of the boarder VA Medical Centers needed to be able to produce Spanish Labels for the Hispanic Patients. This was done by duplicating code rather than completing Internationalization that was started back in the early 1990’s, but stopped by the Clinger-Cohen Act. It would have taken less time and less money to complete internationalization for all of VistA than it took to do a one-up parallel code base for Spanish Pharmacy Labels. Adding another language would mean even more complexity (such as French or German), would be even more duplicate code for a single functionality. By myself, I built a tool to convert all of VistA into being ready for Internationalization and made it so there could be any number of languages that could be selected by the user and not necessarily locked to a single language. It takes about 50 minutes to parse all of VistA into the instrumented code and load the DIALOG file with the words and phrases, ~165,000 phrases in all on a 800 mhz laptop. It does not modify the distributed code but builds the instrumented code in a separate location. This code is available for free download from WorldVistA.

The community is alive an well, and vibrant with new ideas. We are starting to catch up from the “legacy era” and allowing the evolution of the tools to progress again. Want to join in?? It is a lot of fun and a set of real challenges that will bring the power of what needs to be done, back into the hands of the people who are at the point of care. Interesting thing about the word “Legacy”, people think of it as old or non-functional. It really isn’t. It also means that the code is doing the job and doing it just fine. Can it be improved, sure, VistA was made to be improved, to expand beyond what was known and what was learned. But, do remember, VistA-FM is NOT VistA, it is the attempt to break up the integrated hospital system into a series of stove-pipes. VistA-FM is the worst of all FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Distrust). VistA is still running the hospitals and it is running more community hospitals every year.