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Guest Post: More Physicians Joining the EHR Trend

Posted on December 28, 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.

Elise Redmann is currently a student at the University of South Florida where she is earning her Bachelor’s degree in business advertising and international business. She works as a writer with the Jacksonville University School of Nursing Online RN to BSN online programs where she covers topics on healthy living. You can follow her @EliseRedmann712 on Twitter.
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An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital record that typically captures a variety of health and personal information. An EHR can include a patient’s medical history, including test results, medications, allergies, illnesses and other conditions. It can also include personal details, such as demographic and billing information.

The use of EHR systems is on the rise as many hospitals and other healthcare providers replace paper record systems with digital records. According to a December 2012 report by the National Center for Health Statistics, 72% of office-based physicians used an EHR system in 2012, up from 48% in 2009.

Some of this growth has been fueled by the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, which offers healthcare providers incentives to implement EHR systems. In order to qualify for these incentives, providers must demonstrate that they are “meaningfully using” certified EHR systems by meeting certain objectives, many of which represent key benefits of implementing electronic health record systems.

Collaborative Care Made Easier

The primary advantage in transitioning to electronic health records is the ease with which physicians can review patient health records across time and across multiple providers. Since EHR systems capture medical data over the patient’s lifetime, physicians can search the digital records or review a composite of a patient’s medical history without resorting to searching through paper record archives.

In addition, physicians and other healthcare providers with access to an EHR system can more easily collaborate with each other and provide consistent and improved patient care since all involved can review each other’s notes, diagnoses and treatments.

Safer and Faster Prescription Processes

An EHR system can vastly improve safety and workflow efficiency relating to prescription medication. Once a physician enters a prescription into the system, it becomes part of the patient’s health record. The system then checks the medication against the patient’s list of other medications and allergies, and issues the physician with an interaction or contraindication warning. If there are no problems with the medication, the system will then automatically send it to the patient’s pharmacy.

The systems help to ensure that patients receive the medication they need and it also saves the physician time in reviewing and updating the patient’s records and sending the prescription to be filled. In addition, it monitors drug usage and helps eliminate errors associated with illegible handwriting.

Putting Patient Data to Good Use

Digital health records make it not only possible but relatively effortless for physicians to generate an array of reports for individual patients, as well as on their overall practice. Aggregated data can be used to publish treatments and outcomes, while individual data can be given directly to patients. Physicians can provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information and can also quickly produce clinical summaries for patients after each visit.

Digital Charting

Digital charts using an EHR system allow physicians and nurses to be comprehensively informed about a patient’s health history, ensuring proper medical care. Digital charts store patient history and demographic information, and maintain an up-to-date list of current and past diagnoses and treatments, as well as an active medication list.

Digital records can also reduce costs. Chart rooms could be converted to revenue-generating spaces and the increased efficiency means that physicians can see more patients without working longer hours.

Patients benefit from digital charting as they can receive immediate answers about medical matters. In urgent or emergency situations, physicians can access records remotely using an Internet connection, giving them the ability to respond quickly and correctly.

With so many benefits to physicians and patients, implementing an EHR system makes sense. With EHR systems now in such wide use, patients are increasingly seeking out physicians who incorporate electronic health records into their practices.

Could Amazon or Facebook Build A Better EMR?

Posted on February 18, 2011 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.

As we all know, few EMRs are a breeze to use.  In fact, many have such awkward, counterintuitive UIs that they ought to be thrown back into the pond.

On the other hand, superstar consumer apps like Facebook and Amazon have hooked people by the millions with intuitive, logical interface designs that simply addict users.  (And let’s not forget Apple, whose gift for consumer design has vaulted it from has-been to trend setter for the world.)

One CIO, Dale Sanders of the Cayman Island Health Authority, has taken these  examples and run with them, making what seems like a very strong argument in favor of the these giants’ approach:

In Facebook, we have a perfect framework for longitudinal documentation, collaboration, messaging, and scheduling between a patient and members of their entire care team, including family and friends.

We also have a framework for easily integrating data from other sources to enhance the value to the patient’s healthcare – there’s no equivalent of HL7 interchange going on in Facebook.  It references data located in other sources and systems. Can you imagine Facebook surviving if it required itself to house all the data that it presents?  Facebook takes great advantage of referencing and pointing to data in the source systems.

In Amazon, we have a perfect and familiar metaphor for ordering tests and procedures; tracking them; assessing their costs; rating them and seeing how other clinicians rated those orderables and referrals; and adjusting orders based on the behaviors and ratings of other clinicians, etc.

What makes his thoughts more interesting is that he actually marks up screenshots of key Amazon and Facebook pages, commenting directly on aspects he thinks EMR vendors could adopt.  It’s a thought-provoking exercise:  I recommend you check it out.

When will Doctors Enthusiastically Get and Use EMR Software and EMR Systems?

Posted on July 22, 2009 I Written By

One Hundred Percent of Doctors and their offices use Practice Management Systems (PMS). Only 3% user “fully functional” EMR Systems. Why only 3% with EMRs and 100% with PM Systems?

The government is going to pay us $44,000 per doctor to use an EMR. They are going to give us a 2% Medicare bonus and other pay-for-performance incentives and they are going to penalize us in the future if we don’t use EMRs. In addition, hospitals are allowed to pay 85% of the cost of the software and training. Will all this money get us the use EMR? Can we be bought? Is it in our interest to use EMRs?

The CEO of SRSsoft tells us that this type of money is not significant if the EMR makes you less productive and less efficient. For example, if you bill $500,000 per year and your EMR makes you 10% less efficient, you lose $50,000 per year!

I agree with this CEO. We (doctors) will not embrace EMR systems until they are usable and they add value! “Usability is the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which the intended users can achieve their tasks in the intended context of product use.” This definition comes from NIST, ISO and UserCentricity. Adding value means that it makes our jobs more enjoyable, shortens our work day or helps us provide better care.

Doctors use practice management systems because they are usable and they add value. Doctors do not use EMR Systems because most DO NOT add value and they are not usable. There are so many bad EMR systems on the market that the stench and confusion has caused many doctors to not even look (they ask their colleagues who have EMRs and these colleagues say “stay away, it is not worth the cost, aggravation and problems”).

I believe that there are some very good EMRs on the market. The challenge is to find them and promote them. If we (doctors) can find the good EMRs, word will spread and implementation will happen very rapidly!