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Doctors and Lowering Their EHR Standards

Posted on May 2, 2012 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 wrote a post a few months back called The Perfect EMR is Mythology that I think people took the wrong way. In that post, I’m not saying that doctors should lower their EHR standards just because it is the EHR product that is most accessible and easy to implement. I’m not saying that doctors should just take whatever EHR they see first. I’m not even saying that every doctor should adopt EHR.

It’s one thing to accept and use an EHR product that’s imperfect, but still improves your clinic. It’s another thing to accept a terrible product that makes your life miserable. Particularly when there are other EHR software out there that won’t make your life miserable. Something I’ve been seeing more and more from doctors is that they haven’t found the perfect EMR software that does exactly everything they could imagine an EMR to do, so they wait. I think this is a bad choice for many.

Yes, I do think that doctors should spend plenty of time doing proper due diligence before “marrying” themselves to an EHR system. They should absolutely find one that works well for their clinical situation. Physicians should absolutely have reasonable expectations for their EHR vendor and hold them to it. In fact, physicians should hold EMR vendors accountable for what that EHR vendor has committed to accomplish in the EMR selection process.

As I said in my previous post:
Don’t let the quest for perfection get in the way of incremental improvement. Perfection is more nearly obtained through many incremental improvement than giant leaps.

If a physician’s standard is a perfect EHR, then they’re going to be sorely disappointed. If their standard is improvements in their clinic, then there are EHR options out there that are well worth considering and implementing.

Who do Doctors trust in EHR Selection?

Posted on March 29, 2012 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.

Anne Zieger has a really interesting post about Hospital Recommended EHR software over on Hospital EMR and EHR. In it she talks about how most doctors don’t take the hospital recommended EHR software. This will come as little surprise to doctors and likely to hospital systems as well. Doctors and hospitals have always had a mixed bag relationship. There’s this odd co-dependence that usually makes the relationship awkward.

When it comes to EHR adoption, physicians love the idea of getting IT and implementation support from the hospital. They also love the group buying power. Although, they also are concerned that they’ll just be a small fish in the big hospital waters and not get the support that they think they deserve (and maybe they do). Although, the most important reason doctors don’t want to get the hospital recommended EHR is they don’t want to create that “permanent” tie to the hospital. Of course, this is one major reason why hospitals want doctors to take their recommended EHR.

If we can say that doctors don’t trust hospitals recommended EHR software, then who do they trust?

That answer is easy: other doctors.

There’s something really powerful about the trust connection that doctors have between themselves. I’m sure there’s a number of factors that contribute to why they trust doctors more. It probably goes back to the bond that going through medical school creates. Reminds me of when my brother described how boot camp in the Marines created a unique bond between Marines. Doctors seem to experience a similar bond around medical school. Even if they’ve never met before, they can connect sharing “war stories” from their medical school and residency experience.

In many cases, their physician colleagues are a great reference pool for them when it comes to EHR selection. This is particularly true if their colleagues are in the same specialty and have a similar practice size. Although, once doctors start talking to colleagues from different specialties or different size institutions then they often run into trouble. The EHR that works for a 100 office multi-specialty clinic likely won’t be the right one for a solo practice.

IT Service Companies
I also believe many practices have a great trust in their IT service provider. You can see this trend in how many IT service company employees comment and subscribe to this site. Plus, many of them offer some sort of specialized EHR service to doctors. In fact, many are VARs for EHR vendors.

Internet EHR Info
Turns out that most doctors are very independent thinkers. So, many of them want to do the EHR selection on their own. This leads them to the internet to search and narrow down the list of EHR companies. I expect the internet resources for EHR are probably now the most influential part of a physician’s EHR selection process. Can you imagine a physician selecting an EHR without online research? I can’t.

Who else do you see influencing the EHR selection process?

EMR Consultant Selection Service and EHR TV

Posted on February 19, 2012 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 recently was interviewed by someone interested in helping doctors understand the various dynamics of EHR selection and in particular the impact of hugely discounted and Free EHR models on the selection process. The discussion reinforced a long held belief of mine that EHR Selection is the most important part of the EHR selection process. In fact, my final comments to her were that doctors need to take the time that’s necessary to filter through the 300+ EHR vendors out there.

A few years back I wrote an e-Book on EMR selection that I believe has provided some benefit to those selecting an EHR. In the book I suggest that you need to narrow down the number of EHR companies you’re going to look at since very very few doctors can look through all 300 EHR companies. One website I suggest in the book is EMR Consultant.

EMR Consultant is now an advertiser on this site, but I’ve been recommending the service they provide since long before they became an advertiser. It is an EMR Selection service built by a doctor for doctors. They’ve streamlined much of the process for those doctors who don’t want to go through a full analysis, but I suggest you don’t skimp on the EHR selection process. If you do the full process, EMR consultant matches against 100,000 parameters and looks over 600+ EMR listings (That’s a broad definition of EMR which is why I say about 300 full EMR).

One challenge doctors are facing today is that a whole bunch of less qualified EHR selection services have popped up and have been flooding the market. At the end of the day, that shouldn’t have that HUGE of an impact on the EHR market. Just because a selection service recommends a particular EHR doesn’t mean you have to go with that EHR. In fact, I suggest looking at about 5 EHR and if none of them fit, then look at 5 more.

The most important message is spend the time and effort necessary to select the right EHR. It will be worth the extra effort on the front end. If you’re going to rush any part of the process, don’t rush the selection.

Since I mentioned EMR Consultant, it’s worth also mentioning that one other part of the company behind EMR Consultant is a website called EHR TV. Eric, founder of EHR TV, has invested a lot of money and staff to create a really solid video product around EHR and Healthcare IT videos.

EHR TV will have a whole crew at HIMSS again this year as they’ve done the past couple years. They worked really hard to bring in some big name people they can interview on camera. I expect they’ll create some of the most interesting content for those not able to make it to HIMSS. My only complaint is that they don’t have a way I can embed some of their videos. Maybe one day they’ll open that up.

On a HIMSS note, I had my first HIMSS networking event last night and it was fantastic. This week is going to be busy but great.

Emdeon Gets in the Holiday Spirit with Donation of EHR Technology

Posted on December 21, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I’ve blogged before about the importance of decreasing the digital divide in this country in order to truly move healthcare interoperability forward. As I mentioned last month, “Only those patients who have access to these digital healthcare technologies will begin to clamor for them at their next doctors’ visits. Only patients’ whose doctors in turn have reached out to them via email, text or social media regarding the switch to electronic medical records, development of health information exchange and the benefits to care these will hopefully bring will be ready and willing to go with the digital flow.”

When news came across my somewhat cluttered desk of Emdeon’s initiative to provide electronic health record (EHR) technology to physicians in New Jersey’s underserved communities, I first thought, “Yes! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Then I put on my journalist/blogger hat and thought, “Will this truly change anything in these particular communities, or is this just good PR?”

A quick bit of background: Emdeon is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Minority Health, New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (NJ-HITEC), the state’s REC, and the HIMSS Latino Community. Through the initiative, Emdeon will donate Emdeon Clinician licenses to 100 healthcare providers who practice within medically underserved areas and/or healthcare provider shortage areas, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), according to a recent Emdeon press release. The company will waive the license fee for these physicians for one year.

The same press release also mentions “EHR adoption is lower among providers serving Hispanic patients who are uninsured or rely on Medicaid, and is lower among providers serving uninsured, non-Hispanic black patients than among providers serving privately insured, non-Hispanic white patients.”

The initiative sounds like a great idea, but the one-year stipulation got me thinking (a bad habit, I know). What will these physicians, who presumably can’t really afford this technology now, do after their year is up? I reached out to Miriam Paramore, Senior Vice President – clinical and government services at Emdeon, to learn more about the ins and outs of the program.

How did the initiative come about?
Miriam Paramore: During the fall of 2010, leaders from the Office of Minority Health (OMH) and Health Information Technology issued a public, written request to health IT vendors, asking them to pay special attention to healthcare providers within underserved communities. This initiative is known as The Alliance to Reduce Health IT Disparities. Emdeon is serving as a private partner with the OMH to offer access to health IT products and services to providers within undeserved communities in New Jersey. We were thrilled to volunteer and to work within these communities.

Has Emdeon ever done anything like this before?
We’re happy to do part of this effort with HHS and it is the first time we’ve partnered with them.  We have great empathy for the challenges of the physicians in underserved communities and we want to help.

What sort of challenges do small physician practices in underserved communities typically encounter?
In addition to challenges like poverty and health disparities amongst their patient population, providers in underserved communities and smaller practice offices face expensive costs associated with on-boarding EHRs. Emdeon created the Emdeon Clinician solution as an affordable EHR “lite” solution for these small practice physicians or those working in underserved communities. They now have an affordable, easy-to-use solution that will help them to qualify for federal HITECH stimulus dollars without unnecessary disruption and expense of a full-blown EHR system.

How will you work with these 100 physician practices to ensure they are able to continue using the donated EHR after the year-long license expires?
Once the 12-month period expires, providers will be able to continue using Emdeon Clinician for only $99 per provider, per month. Emdeon usually has a $500 implementation and training fee [that, for this program,] has been discounted to a one-time fee of $200 for the providers participating in this project. This is a considerable discount and the fee would only have to be paid once. We will begin outreach to these providers in advance of the expiration date so they are aware of the opportunity to remain with Emdeon Clinician for the low fee following the initial 12-month period.

How will Emdeon work with NJ-HITEC and the HIMSS Latino Community throughout this year to ensure that these practices receive continued training and support?
Emdeon has taken the lead with managing this initiative between all partners with monthly meetings to monitor progress. We have a dedicated project manager, who has mapped a process with the internal team to assist with implementing these physicians as soon as possible. Our custom phone number (1-855-840-7120) connects interested providers directly with a dedicated clinical sales executive who can assist them throughout the enrollment process.

The NJ-HITEC and HIMSS Latino partners are assisting in the recruitment of providers who practice within medically underserved areas for this program from their vast networks across New Jersey communities. These partners are working cooperatively with Emdeon to create a strategy that focuses upon identifying and recruiting providers within underserved communities who are willing to adopt EHRs, especially those interested in qualifying for federal incentive dollars.

How many practices do you anticipate being eligible, and how many do you expect will apply?
While we aren’t sure how many will apply, the HHS OMH recognized that the counties of Camden, Essex and Passaic have the largest percentage of underserved communities. Through our collaborative efforts with the OMH, HIMSS Latino and NJ HITEC, we hope to reach many of those physicians within those counties to take advantage of the 12-month program.

How will Emdeon and its partners determine if this program is a success?
Together with our partners, we believe success will be donating all 100 licenses to providers in underserved communities. The reporting element of this project will help OMH understand the progress of EHR adoption in the context of how long implementation takes in its entirety.

So it seems that Emdeon and its partners certainly have their ducks in a row when it comes to aiding and abetting these physicians before, during and even after the program is technically over. I’ll be interested to see if this model will, in fact, be successful, and if it can be supported in other underserved areas across the nation.

For more information on participating in the program, check out: http://www.emdeon.com/newjersey/

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 16-20

Posted on December 13, 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 next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I met someone at a conference who commented that they liked this series of posts. I hope you’re all enjoying the series as well.

20 Data collaboration is key to patient safety
I think this tip might need to be worded, “Data collaboration should be key to patient safety.” Unfortunately, it’s a mostly unrealized dream at this point. You might even be able to say that data collaboration will be key to patient safety. There really are amazing use cases where data collaboration can improve the care patients receive. It’s a sad state of affairs that so many of the major EHR companies are dead set on protecting their walled gardens. One has even gone so far as to say that patient safety is in danger with multiple systems. Certainly there are some risks associated with multiple systems, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. In fact, patient safety is at stake thanks to those who won’t participate in healthcare data collaboration.

19 Know how customizable the clinical work flows are!
This is a good tip when doing your EMR selection. It’s incredibly valuable to understand how the EMR handles clinical workflows and how well those workflows fit into your established clinical workflows. I’m a proponent of doing the best you can to use established workflows when implementing an EHR. Then, over time adjusting those workflows as needed to gain more efficiency.

18 How easy is it to customize the system overall?
I’d take this EHR tip from a couple angles. First, is how easily can you customize the EMR system. Yes, some of it could be the EMR workflows that I talked about in EMR Tip #19 above, but it could be a whole set of other options (billing, scheduling, messaging, etc). The second part of this suggestion relates to how well this EHR will adapt to the constantly changing clinical environment. Will they be able to handle ICD-10 without too much pain for you? Will you be able to make it work in an ACO environment? Healthcare is constantly changing and so you want to make sure your EHR can be customized to fit your changing needs.

17 Know work flow can be hard coded to ensure compliance.
There are times when hard coding the workflow is incredibly valuable. Certainly this will frustrate some providers, but if done correctly most will understand the need to hard code the workflow to ensure compliance. It’s a fine line to walk, but there are plenty of instances where hard coded workflows can do wonders to improve the care you provide.

16 Ensure easy access to the system via multiple platforms.
As much as providers might not like checking in on the EMR remotely, it’s often absolutely necessary. So, it’s important to ensure that your EMR is available on every medium possible. Can it be connected to remotely? Does it work on the latest devices? Yes, the iPad has a huge portion of the physician market share right now, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Every year a new device comes out and you’ll want an EMR vendor that’s keeping an eye on this movement and making the EMR available on the best technology.

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.

Great 140 Character Sound Bites from Ron Sterling at EHR Summit by HBMA

Posted on November 18, 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 having a really great time all day at the EHR Summit by HBMA. It’s been an event with some really interesting content and a lot of people who really understand the underpinnings of the EMR industry. Most of the people I’ve met are those running their companies and so they’re very interesting to talk with.

Instead of doing a summary, I was basically live tweeting the sessions I attended on @ehrandhit. Ron Sterling was the keynote yesterday and the guy was like sound bite after sound bite. It made it perfect for live tweeting. So, I’m dedicating this post to all my tweets during Ron Sterling’s keynote at the EHR Summit. I know you’ll glean a lot of interesting perspectives from it.

https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137184627797397504
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137185878060703744
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137186748798214146
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137188691104890880
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137189519979065344
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137189839010410496
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137190521700483072
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137191707673497600
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137192432063356928
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137193082004316160
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137194619682299904
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137196714535821312
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137197709097570304
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137198800543555584
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137198992772702208
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137200318369898496
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137201007007498240
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137203401061699584
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137204288928751616
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137206387909468160
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137206682110541824
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137207286937554945
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137208414068682752
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137209976077824000
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137210243959635968
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137211060372508672
https://twitter.com/#!/ehrandhit/status/137213019309604864

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 21-25

Posted on November 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 next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I met someone at a conference who commented that they liked this series of posts. I hope you’re all enjoying the series as well.

25. Care coordination is much easier in an EMR and should be evaluated to be used
The idea of care coordination has never been more important in the history of healthcare. It’s the future of healthcare (at least in the US). Whether they end up being called ACOs or some other term, the switch to needing to coordinate care in order to improve the health of a population is happening as we speak. Luckily, EMR software is a great way to facilitate this care coordination.

24. Take advantage of E-Health tools
I actually think that this is a big call to EMR vendors to integrate their EMR software with the various e-health tools out there today. EHR vendors that think they can create every e-Health tool a doctor could want are going to be left behind by those systems which support the most popular consumer health tools on the market. However, that’s not to say that doctors can’t do their part. Start getting your patient using the e-health tools that will benefit them as a patient and then start requesting that your EMR vendor support the tools you’re using.

23. Make certain all caregivers know that logs are kept for any system overrides
Don’t hide the fact that everything is logged. Let everyone know that whatever is done on the system is logged. While some may see this as big brother watching them, most will realize that the logs are a protection for them. They log exactly what was done and said and who did it.

I remember one time there was some problem in our EMR system. I can’t remember the specific issue. Well, it was brought up in our staff meeting and the director said, whoever made this mistake is going to be providing breakfast for the whole staff. I went into the logs to see who’d accessed the patient to do the offending task. Little did the director (who was also a practicing provider a few times a week) know that she was the offending party. Everyone in the clinic enjoyed a nice breakfast that week.

22. Give caregivers the ability to override the system when necessary
Mistakes happen in documentation in an EMR. We’re all imperfect human beings (except for my wife) who make mistakes. So, you need an option and likely a process for how and who can make corrections to what was done in the EMR. Just be sure that everything that’s “overwritten” is logged and the reason for the change is well documented.

21. Develop a root cause analysis process for the EMR
I’m not that familiar with root cause analysis processes, so I’ll just share what Shawn says about it:

You very likely already have a root cause analysis model for your practice. You will need to adopt that model to the EMR. If you don’t, you will create a likelihood for the same errors to continually repeat. The EMR process is different than a usual root cause analysis. You will need to take into account interfaces, security roles, single sign on, and several other things beyond the “simple” human process.

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.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 26-30

Posted on October 28, 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 next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I met someone at a conference who commented that they liked this series of posts. I hope you’re all enjoying the series as well.

30. Remember that the EMR is only part of the safety problem
Remember that the EMR is just a tool. How you use that tool still matters. How you manage that tool matters. How you implement that tool matters. Safety is a result of great processes and that doesn’t change when you implement an EMR. In fact, I’d say it’s even more important. The same applies to bad clinical workflows. EMR won’t solve those bad workflows either. You can try to do a redesign of the workflows with the EMR implementation, but that often doesn’t go over well.

29. Errors should be easily reportable
To be honest, I’m not sure exactly which errors Shawn is talking about. I think I’ll take a different spin on it than what he intended and talk about the errors or issues that someone has using an EMR. This is particularly important when you first implement an EMR. You should want to know the errors that are occurring regularly so you can fix them. Make it easy for them to report them and provide proper encouragement and/or rewards for reporting errors they have with the system. Ignorance is not bliss…it always catches up to you eventually.

28. Use data to show both individual and system safety metrics
The key component that Shawn is describing here is the ability to report on various cross sections of data (individual vs system). If you can’t chop up your data to really know what’s going on in your system, then you’re not going to be able to really pinpoint the issues that users are having. Maybe it’s only one person who’s bringing down the average for the entire hospital. You don’t want to make sweeping changes to the system that annoy the majority of users when all you really needed to do was address the issues of an individual or small group of individuals.

27. Record management in the EMR is just as important as in paper
You thought HIM was done when you got the EMR. Wrong! Their role is still very important. Granted, it changes pretty dramatically, but in the clinics I’ve worked in the records management people were able to do a much more effective job improving the patient record in the EMR. Many of the things they did they never had time to do cause they were too busy pulling and filing paper charts.

26. Evaluate decision support tools for a fit to your needs
I believe that the clinical decision support tools are going to be the thing that changes the most over the next 5-10 years. You should definitely see how the clinical decision support tools they have available fit into your environment, but also spend as much time seeing what they’ve implemented and what their road map and method of implementing new clinical decision support tools is so you know where they’re going to be with their tools and product in five years.

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.

Sandhills Paves the Way for Successful Pediatric EMR Implementations

Posted on October 13, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

On my far-too-frequent visits to my younger daughter’s pediatrician, I’ve noticed pristine new monitors and keyboards wrapped up and sitting in the corner of the exam rooms. Over the last six months, there they’ve sat, waiting patiently to be unwrapped and plugged in. “What’s the hold up,” I think? As a parent, I’m hoping this new system will offer the doctors e-prescribing capabilities. As a healthcare IT observer, I’m wondering why what I presume to be an electronic health record (EHR) is taking so long to come out of the box and into operation. Is it a question of resources? Is the facility waiting for a training team to be made available? Is there back-end infrastructure that has yet to be put in place? These are the things I think about while dealing with low-grade fevers and scheduled immunizations.

Needless to say, my interest is always piqued when I come across stories of pediatricians adopting EHRs and/or realizing the benefits of that technology. So when I came across news that Sandhills Pediatrics had received $184,000 in EHR incentives, I was intrigued. The Columbia, S.C.-based practice has been using an EHR from SRS since 2010.

“Even our initially most skeptical physicians became committed SRS EHR users in a very short period of time,” said Kevin O. Wessinger, M.D., president of Sandhills Pediatrics, in the release announcing the pay out. “All fourteen physicians and their staff value the efficiencies that SRS has delivered and the patient care and practice improvements that SRS has facilitated.”

I recently spoke with SRS CEO Evan Steele to learn more about how Sandhills implemented the EMR back in 2010, and the benefits they’ve realized from it.

This being the practice’s first EHR, what prompted them to make the move from paper to digital?
ES: “The driving force was the quality of care Sandhills was providing. With 4 locations and Saturday and Sunday office hours only at the central location, patient chart review was a big challenge. The patient charts that were housed at the satellite offices, because that’s where the patients were normally seen, and so were not available to review for weekend care. Additionally, the practice provides nurse triage in the evenings until 10:00pm and again, the satellite patients’ charts were not available.”

Did you, as the vendor, encounter any barriers to adoption from the Sandhills staff?
“No, we did not encounter any barriers to adoption. Our implementation plan is highly developed and assures 100% adoption. In addition, the Sandhills team’s dedication to success allowed them to achieve their EHR goals. Furthermore, the decision to implement the SRS EHR was driven from the top down. Sometimes the age of the physicians may impact adoptability. At Sandhills, 12 of the 14 physicians are under the age of 50 so they are more computer-savvy and willing to make the change.”

What sort of “extras” do the pediatric practices look for when selecting an EMR?
“Unique to pediatrics are immunizations. The SRS development staff worked closely with Sandhills on immunizations and pediatric growth charts. SRS secured the integration between Sandhills and the World Health Organization, developed a table for displaying and storing vaccine information, and enabled Sandhills to provide this information to their patients in a usable format.

“With a patient population of 57,000, Sandhills had to provide every kindergarten, grade school, and day care with proof of immunization. In the past, the practice had to hand-write 20,000 immunization certificates each year. SRS was readily available to provide a solution to this issue and saved the Sandhills staff many hours of aggravation. SRS created a form that auto-populates the immunization information so now the Sandhills staff no longer needs to hand-write each certificate.

The same process and benefits were developed for growth charts. The SRS EHR provides the patient’s age, and the Sandhills staff only has to enter height and weight, and this information auto-populates on the growth charts.

SRS created efficiencies, which coupled with our uniqueness in allowing physicians to continue to document notes as they are accustomed, has led to a successful implementation and positive EHR experience.”

How have clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction been improved since the EMR was installed?
“Clinical outcomes have improved as the physicians have access to pertinent clinical data at any time from any place. Additionally, the staff is quicker to respond to patient inquiries. They’ve experienced tremendous improvements in efficiencies and patient outcomes as a direct result of using SRS Order Management. Sandhills used to have manual paper tracking of lab tests and now with the SRS EHR, an expected date pops up in the system and if a test is not back by then, an alert is shown calling attention to the fact that it needs to be addressed.

“The patients, especially those seen on the weekends and evenings, have commented that they appreciate the improved and quick service. When they call in to the office with questions and concerns, they are comforted and given peace of mind knowing that the Sandhills’ staff is completely familiar and up-to-date with their situation.”

What do you think will be the next evolution of EHRs for pediatrics?
SRS Development recently unveiled vaccine inventory control. This process is entirely manual now, but the new enhancements will automatically track down the vaccine to the lot number. It’s also a double-check for safety that the lot numbers they have match what’s in computer. This is a double benefit – quality control and inventory control. This new development will especially find favor with the nurses, who are so happy that a daily occurrence that used to take 2 hours will now take 2 minutes.”

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 31-35

Posted on October 12, 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 next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I hope you’re enjoying the series.

35. CPOE is important, but every EMR will have it.
I think that the CPOE discussion hit a head for me when I saw the CPOE requirements that were baked into meaningful use. Then, I heard someone from the often lauded (appropriately so) IHC in Utah who said that IHC didn’t have CPOE and it would be hard for them to meet that benchmark. Ok, so I’m more of an ambulatory guy than I am hospital, but this surprised me. In the clinics I’ve helped with EHR, CPOE is one of the first things we implemented. No doubt that every EMR has CPOE capabilities.

34. Make sure adverse drug events reporting is comprehensive
Yes, not all drug to drug, drug to allergy, etc databases are created equal. Not to mention some EHR vendors haven’t actually implemented these features (although, MU is changing that). I’d really love for a doctor and an EMR company to go through and rate the various drug database companies. How comprehensive are they? How good can you integrate them into your EHR? etc etc etc.

33. Make certain drug interactions are easy to manage for the physician
I won’t go into all the details of alert fatigue in detail. Let’s just summarize it this way: You must find the balance between when to alert, what to alert, how to alert and how to ignore the alert. Plus, all of the opposites of when not to alert, what not to alert, and how to not ignore the alert.

32. Ensure integration to other products is possible
Is it possible that you could buy an EMR with no integration? Possibly, but I have yet to see it. At a bare minimum clinics are going to want to have integration with lab software and ePrescribing (pharmacies). That doesn’t include many of the other common interfaces such as integration with practice management systems, hospitals, radiology, etc. How well your EMR handles these integration situations can really impact the enjoyment of your EHR.

31. Ensure information sharing is easy
This tip could definitely be argued, but I believe we’re headed down the road of information sharing. It’s going to still take a while to get to the nirvana of information sharing, but we’ve started down the road and there’s no turning back. Kind of reminds me of Splash Mountain at Disneyland where the rabbit has a sign that says there’s no turning back now. My son didn’t like that sign so much and I’m sure many people won’t like that there’s no turning back on data sharing either. However, it’s going to happen.

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.