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101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 66-70

Posted on August 8, 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.

70. Hard coded work flows CAN be your friend
EMR vendors are constantly playing the game of out of the box functionality versus unlimited workflow design. This is one way to look at hard coded work flows. Sometimes they have benefits since it’s one less thing that you have to configure on your system.

The other way to look at the above EMR tip is when it comes to reporting. Often if you’ve customized a workflow in your EMR, then you lose out on the benefit of the reporting that’s available with a hard coded work flow. Sometimes you can get the benefit of both, but some advanced reports really benefit from a hard coded work flow.

69. Social Media integration – the way business is done today
No EMR system has really deep social media integration….yet!? Although, it’s worth checking with your EHR vendor to see their views of the future of social media integration. Especially if you’re in a market that has a lot of physicians. You can be sure that future patients will want some sort of social media integration as part of their visit.

68. Determine how the EMR vendor encourages innovation
This EMR tip can be taken a number of different ways. The first is how does your EMR vendor innovate internally. Take a look at their last 3-5 release cycles to get an idea of how quickly they release features and how innovative those features are. It will tell you a lot about future releases of their EHR software.

The second way to take this is by asking the question, how do they take feedback and innovation from their community? Do they have an open API that would allow you (or some developer you pay) to be able to extend their EHR functionality? If you’re someone who likes to tinker with your practice, then an open API that will let you do that would be essential.

67. Determine how innovation is actually put into the practice
This EMR tip highlights the subtle difference between an EHR vendor that talks the talk and the EHR vendor that walks the walk. Every time your EHR vendor says, “That feature will be in the next release.” a red flag should go up in your mind. Maybe this company thinks and talks big, but can’t actually perform big. Although, age of the EHR vendor should play some part in this evaluation as well.

66. Is the patient portal comprehensive
Meaningful Use has almost made patient portals a requirement. It’s hard to say exactly what future meaningful use stages will require, but I won’t be surprised if a patient portal plays a large part in the future of healthcare. Plus, the new digital generation is going to be very interested in using a patient portal. You’ll want to make sure your EHR vendor is ready for both of these trends.

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.

Physician Compare Portal

Posted on 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 saw a recent tweet (I think from the Dell or HP twitter account) that talked about a new CMS portal to compare physicians. I was excited by the prospects of a way for patients to be able to compare physicians. I think that service is greatly needed. Currently I’ve been seeing a theme in my online reading and social media efforts that patients don’t have a good way to differentiate doctors and clinics. Plus, doctors don’t have a real requirement to satisfy their customers (patients) in many areas. Luckily, most doctors ignore the fact that it’s not required and provide an excellent service. However, I’d love to see the rest of the doctors who aren’t as diligent to be held accountable.

If you’ve read this blog and my other EMR and HIPAA and EMR and EHR blogs, then you know that I love the idea of accountability.

As such, I was excited to read about the new Physician Compare Portal by CMS. You’d think it would be a great way for someone who moved to a new area to be able to compare physicians. Isn’t that what the name seems to imply? It does to me.

Unfortunately, it has its weaknesses (which I should have expected since it was coming from the government). First, it really only compares Medicare physicians. Ok, I guess that makes sense since it is a CMS project. Second, it seems like the only way to compare physicians is by location, specialty, and I think it lists their education. Basically, the information you could find out about any physician online.

I didn’t see any place where I could rate or review a physician. I bet CMS would be afraid to open up those flood gates. There was an option to add that physician to “My Favorite Physician”. I’m not sure what it does after that since I don’t have a My Medicare login. Maybe there’s more you can do with the physician once they’re you’re favorite.

Maybe I’m jumping the gun here and this is just version 1 of the portal. Hopefully they have a lot planned that will help patients really differentiate between the physicians in their community. As it currently stands, there doesn’t seem like there’s much to compare.

Honestly, I don’t think CMS or any government agency could do a valuable physician compare engine. I think it would need to be led by an outside organization. Sounds like a great idea for an entrepreneur.

EMR Data Theft Returns!

Posted on I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

My August 3rd post Data breaches and EMRs: bad guys or just dumb mistakes? discussed my skepticism about the DEFCON level we need to have regarding EMR and EHR.  I found it eyebrow-raising when Reuters was quick to distance itself from the author at the beginning of her article The road to electronic health records is lined with data thieves, which I have not often seen in EMR and EHR blogs.  After I read through it, I began to think that maybe the disclaimer had to do with the content of the post.  This story was a bit more interesting than Digitized medical records are easy prey, but all is not lost, the topic of my August 3rd commentary, in that it really highlighted more of the paranoia and fear about what could be rather than what probably will be.  I’ve also said in previous posts that it’s not that I believe electronic medical records are going to be completely secure and HIPAA compliant under all circumstances.  However, the following excerpts from the Reuters post drove me nuts with all the fear mongering that was clearly promoted.

Setting an epic tone for her piece, Constance Gustke begins discussing “The future of your personal health information…” and“gigantic Internet-driven databases”.  The rest of her post includes the following comments.  I admit they’re a bit voluminous, but the quotability here was difficult to resist.

“the data being stored is sensitive and so far it isn’t very secure,”

“… access explodes”.

“data breaches can have harmful effects, including medical discrimination.”

“we can’t see who uses our electronic records,” “And they can be back-door mined.”

“only 10 percent of all hospitals lock down their data”  “HHS investigations have found… dozens of data breaches… in New York, California, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia and Missouri.”

“patients can put their information at risk at home, too, using unsafe computers that may not be secure”

“wild west in terms of how data flows,”  

“Assets are roaming on the open ranges.  And the rustlers are out foxing us all.”

“identity thieves and other fraudsters”  

“Medical records are a gold mine of personal data, including Social Security numbers,”  “financial and medical information.”  “It shows everything about you.”

“Even more dangerous, stolen medical data can damage your healthcare.  There could be more healthcare discrimination,”

“government regulation is weak.” “doesn’t offer enough protections”  “no system can completely track access”.

“Currently, there are 281 cases listed, including hospitals, doctors and insurance companies that reported large data thefts, losses and other breaches. For example, HHS found that Massachusettes Eye & Ear Infirmary and Kaiser Permanente Medical both had medical data thefts.”

But which were cases of electronic theft that actually required hacking?  Which ones were specifically due to the fact that the records were stored on an EMR or EHR system and then electronically stolen?  This is to me perhaps the most important question, since without true electronic crime, a lot of the gusto cited above tends to be less grounded.  She doesn’t stop with EMRs, but rather goes on to warn, “Right now, portals put more information at risk.”  Okay, okay…  I think I get the message.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.