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If Meaningful Use Were Gone – Perspective from EHR Executive at Modernizing Medicine

Posted on February 3, 2014 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Michael Sherling, MD, in response to the question I posed in my “State of the Meaningful Use” call to action.

If MU were gone (ie. no more EHR incentive money or penalties), which parts of MU would you remove from your EHR immediately and which parts would you keep?

Michael Sherling
Michael Sherling, MD, MBA
Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder, Modernizing Medicine

What a great question! As both the co-founder of Modernizing Medicine, and a practicing dermatologist that uses EMA, I can appreciate the amount of time and effort it goes into developing MU feature sets, as well as inputting the data in to be a “meaningful user.”

The Top 3 Measures I would remove

  1. Clinical Summaries Provided to Patient
  2. Vital Signs
  3. Clinical Quality Measures

I understand the intent for patients to receive clinical summaries of each visit- but this places an incredible burden on the end user (physicians and office staff) to make sure that each patient has access to their clinical summaries.  For instance, even though we live in the digital age, several of my older patients don’t own a computer or have access to one.  Additionally, these summaries lead to more questions by the patients after the visit has been concluded often times regarding details of the summary that are relatively innocuous.

I have a serious beef with government mandating of Vital Signs.  Health care providers know when it is medically necessary to take vital signs and when it is not.  Those who never take vital signs, because it is unrelated to their scope of practice can claim exceptions, but those who take a few are often stuck between their medical responsibilities and getting an incentive.  In the end, these dermatologists and ophthalmologists wind up taking more blood pressures or measuring the height and weight of their patients unnecessarily to achieve the incentive.  This paradoxically is medically meaningless since dermatologists don’t treat blood pressure, and ophthalmologists don’t often dose weight-based drugs (they like eye drops).

Clinical Quality Measures needs to be renamed to Cost Effective Measures.   Clearly, the goal of CQM is to change physician behavior so that physician decisions are more cost effective.  This is needed in our health care system.  What today is an incentive based on pay for reporting, will be transformed to pay for performance tomorrow.  My concern as a physician is how do we know these are the right questions to ask?  If physicians comply with these CQM guidelines, will that result in not just lower costs, but more effective care?  I’d much rather see benchmarking around actual patient clinical outcomes themselves, using tools like static global assessments of disease rather than a questionnaire about whether or not I followed a recipe for how a committee thinks I should treat every patient with condition Y.

The Top 5 Measures I would Keep

  1. Electronic Prescribing
  2. Medication List
  3. Allergy List
  4. Drug-Drug, Drug-Allergy Interaction Checks
  5. Patient Search

All of these measures are critical to patient care and have obvious benefits.  With electronic prescribing, prescription orders are standardized and LEGIBLE! No need for the pharmacist to discern my own poor doctor handwriting anymore.   Keeping the medication and allergy lists updated and the drug-drug and drug-allergy checks enabled makes for great patient care.  No physician wants to prescribe a medication that interacts with another in a negative way, nor do we want to prescribe a medication that could potentially cross-react with a known allergy. Finally, patient search is a really cool feature that allows all of us to search for patients with specific diseases and medications. This is an important first step in getting records to behave more like research databases for clinical studies and less like word-processors for just note taking.

Health IT Costs, Health IT Adoption, HIE and CommonWell – Pre #HITsm Thoughts

Posted on June 28, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Last week I took the #HITsm Chat topics and created a blog post about Healthcare Unbound. I enjoyed creating the post so much that I decided to do it again this week. Not to mention I’ll be on the road to Utah during this week’s chat and won’t be able to participate. (Side Note: If you live in Utah and want to do lunch, I’d love to meet and talk EMR or health IT. I’ll be in Hawaii in July if you want to do the same.)

The chat topics make perfect discussion items. Plus, I love that I have more of an opportunity to really dig into the topics in a blog post. You can’t dig in quite as much in 140 characters.

Topic 1: Costs vs benefits. Will high costs always be the #1 barrier cited to #healthIT adoption?
We’ve seen an enormous shift in the cost of healthcare IT since I first started blogging about EMR 8 years ago. Cost use to be a much bigger issue when the cheapest EMR software you could find was about $30,000+ per doctor (in the ambulatory space). Plus, they expected you to pay the entire lump sum payment up front (many did offer financing). These days the cost of EMR software has dropped dramatically and fewer and fewer EHR vendors are using the lump sum payment model. This change means that costs are much more in line with a practice’s revenue.

These days, I’d say that those who use cost as the reason for not adopting health IT are really just using it as an excuse not to do it. There are a few rural providers where cost is more than just an excuse, but those are pretty few and far between. I’m not saying that cost isn’t an important part of any health IT project, but I’ve most often seen cost used as a mask for other reasons people don’t want to implement health IT. The most common reason is actually just a general resistance to change.

Topic 2: Why does ePrescribing have such widespread acceptance while #telehealth adoption is so low?
If providers could be reimbursed for telehealth, adoption would be high.

It is ironic that doctors don’t really get reimbursed for ePrescribing, but they do it at a high level. Although, the doctor does get reimbursed for the visit that generates the need for the prescription. A deeper investigation of why ePrescribing has had good adoption would be interesting. Certainly there are many doctors who miss their sig pad. However, once you have to record the prescription in the EHR, you might as well ePrescribe it.

Plus, there are some obvious reasons why ePrescribing is better. Whether it’s replacing the unreadable prescriptions or the drug to drug and allergy interaction checking that’s built into every ePrescribing platform, the benefits can be understood quickly.

The sad thing is that the benefits of Telehealth can be seen quickly as well, but you can’t get paid to do it.

Topic 3: #HIE as a noun or a verb? Does negative press for HIE org$ hinder health data exchange as a whole?
HIE is currently more of a noun than a verb. Verbs require action and we’re not seeing enough HIE action.

In some ways negative press could discourage healthcare organizations from participating in an HIE organization. However, negative press about HIE’s weaknesses can also put pressure on healthcare organizations to finally step up to the plate and have more HIE action and less HIE talk.

The biggest hindrance to HIE is business model, and good or bad press won’t do much to change that.

Topic 4: Is #CommonWell just a bully in a fairy godmother costume?
I love this question mostly because I sent the tweet that inspired it. Although, a smart health IT PR/marketer was the one who said it to me.

It’s a little too early to tell if the fairy godmother costume that CommonWell has on is real or fake. I think there path is paved with good intentions, but will the almighty dollar get in the way of them realizing these good intentions? I don’t know. I’m hopeful that it will be a success. I’m also glad that at least the conversations are happening. That’s a step forward from where we were before CommonWell.

Topic 5: Open forum: What #HealthIT topic had your attention this week?
There are so many topics that I discuss each week, but I think I’m most excited by the project announced this week to create a Common Notice of Privacy Practices. I hope their crowdfunding is successful and they get a lot of great healthcare organizations on board with what they’re doing. I also found the Vitera Healthcare acquisition of Success EHS quite interesting. EMR is slowly but surely consolidating.

June 30 eRx Deadline and EHR Incentive Deadlines

Posted on June 6, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

eRx Deadline

A major Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Incentive Program deadline is approaching for both individual eligible professionals (EPs) and group practices participating in the Group Practice Reporting Option (GPRO).  If you are an EP or an eRx GPRO participant, you must successfully report as an electronic prescriber before June 30, 2013 or you will experience a payment adjustment in 2014 for professional services covered under Medicare Part B’s Physician Fee Schedule (PFS.)

The 2013 eRx Incentive Program 6-month reporting period (January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013) is the final reporting period available to you if you wish to avoid the 2014 eRx payment adjustment.

If you do not successfully report, a payment adjustment of 2.0% will be applied, and you will receive only 98.0% of your Medicare Part B PFS amount for covered professional services in 2014.

Avoiding the 2014 eRx Payment Adjustment 
Individual EPs and eRx GPRO participants who were not successful electronic prescribers in 2012 can avoid 2014 eRx payment adjustment by meeting specified reporting requirements between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013.Below are the 6-month reporting requirements:

  • Individual EPs – 10 eRx events via claims
  • eRx GPRO of 2-24 EPs – 75 eRx events via claims
  • eRx GPRO of 25-99 EPs – 625 eRx events via claims
  • eRx GPRO of 100+ EPs – 2,500 eRx events via claims

Exclusions and Hardships Exemptions
Exclusions from the 2014 eRx payment adjustment only apply to certain individual EPs and group practices, and CMS will automatically exclude those individual EPs and group practices who meet the criteriaCMS may exempt individual eligible professionals and group practices participating in eRx GPRO from the 2014 eRx payment adjustment if it is determined that compliance with the requirements for becoming a successful electronic prescriber would result in a significant hardship. Requests for hardship exemptions must be submitted byJune 30, 2013. More information on exclusion criteria and hardship exemption categories can be found on the Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Incentive Program: 2014 Payment Adjustment Fact Sheet.

EHR Incentive Deadlines

July 3, 2013 is last day that eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) in their first year of participation of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program can begin their 90-day reporting period to demonstrate meaningful use for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Hospitals in their second and third years of participation must demonstrate meaningful use for the full FY. 

Looking Ahead
Three other important dates for eligible hospitals and CAHs include:

  • September 30, 2013—Last day of the FY 2013, and the end of the reporting year.
  • October 1, 2013—First day of FY 2014, and the start of Stage 2 for hospitals in their third or fourth years of participation.
  • November 30, 2013—Last day to register and attest to receive an incentive payment for FY 2013.

See other 2013 important dates in the 2012-2014 Health Information Technology timeline.

Hardest Meaningful Use Measure

Posted on December 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There was a great piece a while back by Benjamin Harris that looked at the 5 not-so-easy pieces of meaningful use stage 2. In the article he suggests the following 5 challenges:

1. Structured Lab Results
2. Patient Access to Health Information
3. Ongoing Submission to Registries
4. Computerized Order Entry (CPOE)
5. Summary of Care Referrals

I started asking around my network to see what readers of my site and those in my social media groups thought was the hardest meaningful use measure for them. Some of them match the list above, but I thought I’d highlight a few of them I found interesting.

One person told me that the multi-lab scenario might be one of the most challenging parts of meaningful use and one that doesn’t get talked about much.

A CIO named Renee Davis told me that ePrescribing and monitoring compliance were the hardest meaningful use measures. I think the ePrescribing part can be a huge challenge depending on your EHR vendor, your physician users, and your location (ie. Do your local pharmacies participate?). Plus, any CIO will definitely have challenges with compliance.

Patty Houghton suggested that Clinical Summaries and Problem Lists were her hardest meaningful use challenges.

Obviously when you say the word “hardest” it’s something that’s unique to an individual practice or institution. With that disclaimer, from the large number of people I’ve talked to I think that most people consider the 60% CPOE meaningful use measure the hardest.

I still remember the day when I heard Marc Probst, CIO of Intermountain Healthcare (IHC), say that IHC was doing ) CPOE. This was when he was first working on the committees in Washington to create EHR certification and meaningful use requirements. It was a shock to me that IHC, who is touted for its use of IT in healthcare, could have 0 CPOE (I think Meaningful Use has helped encourage them to remedy this number). It illustrated well how much of a challenge CPOE will be for many institutions.

What’s your experience and the experience of the doctors and hospitals you work with? Which meaningful use measures are most challenging?

Can Health IT Reduce Readmissions?

Posted on August 15, 2012 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 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.

We who work around health IT know it can do some great tricks, but it’s always nice to see examples of how it can actually save money.  One example of how health IT can be a cost-saver is in helping to reduce readmissions, according to a new study from CSC.  Here’s a summary of how it might work, courtesy of CMIO magazine:

Reducing readmissions will require identifying patients at risk for readmission, carefully orchestrated care management programs and patient-specific transition pathways. While this type of patient tracking, collaboration and patient-centeredness has been historically difficult to achieve, health IT should enable more organized care management through tools such as e-prescribing, master patient indexes and electronic clinical communication.

The report notes, however, that this works much better if hospitals and health systems have integrated EMRs that extend from the facility into community medical practices.  And that’s just common sense. After all, hospitals aren’t equipped to check on patients regularly once they’re discharged, aside perhaps from a few that are experimenting with remote monitoring.

The thing is, given that hospitals and medical practices are seldom running the same systems, it’s unlikely (OK, almost impossible) that they’ll be able to share much in the way of digital information. Sure, they’ll get faxes galore, but if that was an efficient way to share docs we wouldn’t be having these conversations.

Oh well. It’s always good for deep thinker types to point the way ahead. Unfortunately, I think we’ll have to wait a while for coordinated care planning via health IT to really find its place. Maybe John’s predictions for Direct Project will help us get part of the way there.

ePrescribing and Bowel Movements

Posted on April 9, 2012 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

Someone recently asked me to comment on my use of electronic prescriptions.  In general, I love them, especially since the old-fashioned method of paper prescriptions is notoriously prone to problems and/or failure on many levels.

1.  Paper scrips take longer to produce by handwriting than typing in a typical electronic e-Rx module.

2.  Patients can lose the scrips.  I once wrote out 15 paper scrips, painfully, during a dinner with friends in a restaurant while we were waiting to be seated.  (To think that I actually wasted a stamp on this.)  Two weeks later, the patient called and said she had lost them and wanted me to send them again.  Fool me once …

3.  Pharmacists can have trouble reading the scrips.

4.  Certain scrips for controlled substances — like narcotics and testosterone — sometimes need to be written on special paper.

5.  Patients may switch insurance plans more than once a year.

6.  Insurance plans may switch mail order pharmacies during a given year.

With electronic prescribing, the frustration levels and ultimate waste of time involved with paper prescriptions is shrunk down to a minimum.  Not that this is perfect, but it’s far superior to paper.  Patients can still give you wrong information.  The scrips can be mismanaged (lost or incorrectly filled) by pharmacy technicians.  The list goes on…  Once I actually had a technician call me for clarification on a scrip that had nothing wrong with it whatsoever.  She needed to know if I wanted the patient to take 2 tablets a day, or 11.  I went to bed that night comforted that we had such detail-oriented professionals running the pharmacies of America.

Overall though, I would have to say that ePrescribing is a lot like having a bowel movement.  Ninety-five percent of the time it works perfectly and saves me an enormous amount of time and effort in getting me to where I need to go next.  Five percent of the time, it ends in a colossal failure and a lot of extra time sitting around waiting for the ordeal to end.

e-Prescribing: Some Considerations

Posted on February 13, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

I’m always in the mood for stories, which is why I love the Cases and Commentaries section on the AHRQ WebM&M site. There’re a bunch of February posts up there but the one that caught my eye was one titled E-prescribing: E for Error?

The case involved a 63 year old man who went in to see his primary care physician. He was receiving psychotherapy, but was still prone to anxiety. The PCP prescribed him alprazolam for the anxiety. Since the clinic had just implemented a new e-prescribing system, the doctor assured the patient that he didn’t need a paper prescription and just needed to show up at pharmacy and pick up his order.

So far so good.

Back at the doctor’s office, a nurse entered the presribed medication into the practice’s shiny new system, except that she inadvertently added an order of atenolol, intended for a different patient, to this patient’s order. She soon realized her mistake and deleted the atenolol order.

When the patient went to the pharmacy, he was given both the alprazolam and the atenolol, which he thought was odd, since he had been prescribed only one medication. However, he just went ahead with taking both medications per the directions handed to him by the pharmacist, and it was only a few days later, during an appointment with a cardiologist that the mistaken atenolol addition was finally identified.

Fortunately, the patient lived to tell the tale, which we all know is not the outcome in some sad cases. Elisa W. Ashton, the author of this Cases and Commentaries piece, has some great points listed as her takeaways from this case. Here are mine:

It’s too soon to say goodbye to paper. I worry about trees more than the average Jane, but if there’s a ever a case to be made for a paper prescription, here it is. A paper prescription would’ve shown up the double prescription both to the nurse, as well as the patient, making it less likely to make it to the pharmacy.

It’s not clear who/what failed. Did the nurse realize delete the wrong entry only after she transmitted the patient’s prescription? Did the prescription software trule delete the medication or simply mark it as flagged for deletion?

– This accident happened on a newish system, perhaps users were not as familiar with it as they should have been.

If you think something’s odd about your prescription, speak up. As patients many of us tend to assume that doctors know best. However, doctors are as human as everyone else, no matter how many initials tag along before or after their names. You don’t have to be obnoxious about it, it’s perfectly fine to verify politely with your doctor’s office if the additional (or missing) medications are necessary.

– Bravo to the eagle-eyed cardiologist! It was great someone caught this error in time, though I would much prefer that some kind of check system be built into the e-prescription system to prevent errors of this sort.

Go check out the post on AHRQ.

A Report on ePrescribing Challenges

Posted on November 28, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

From the Center for Studying Health System Change ( comes a study on e-prescriptions, and how providers and pharmacies work together to electronically transmit and fulfill prescriptions. Now, I don’t know how reliable this organization or its research is (the .com in its name, for example, is something that bothers me. Also the report focuses almost exclusively on SureScripts). But the study is interesting to me for what it reveals statistically. conducted 114 phone interviews with 24 physician practices, 48 community pharmacies, divided between local and national companies. The national respondents included 3 mail-order pharmacies, and 3 chain pharmacy headquarters. Those of you who are interested in the numbers, the methodology and other sundries, go ahead and read the report in its entirety. Here’s a quick summary from the report’s results the rest of us. My comments are bolded.

According to the report:
Two-thirds of the practices sent at least 70% of their prescriptions electronically. Which means about 46.2% of the prescriptions are e-prescribed. Plenty of room for growth, methinks.

Pharmacists at more than 50% of Community said their pharmacies received less than 15% of their prescriptions electronically. The reasons: providers didn’t transmit electronically, or sent out computer-generated prescriptions by fax or mail. Interesting – could be indicative of either lack of knowhow, or infrastructure that allows for e-transmission.
New prescriptions are more likely to be e-prescribed than prescription refills (renewals). The report states that many pharmacies don’t use this feature in order to avoid SureScripts fees for renewals.

There are plenty of inefficiencies. E.g. a) multiple requests for the same prescription were sent (say by phone, fax and through SureScripts) by pharmacies b) providers mistakenly deny prescriptions and then re-send the same prescription as a new one.

E-prescribing to mail order pharmacies is a different process – (apparently providers need to be Surescripts certified to e-prescribe with community pharmacies, and also need to be certified to e-prescribe to mail order pharmacies. So, even when a provider selects a mail order pharmacy to fulfill an e-prescription, the prescription is delivered by fax to the the mail order pharmacy by Surescripts.)
Prescription specificity falls on the provider – tablets, capsules, and liquid formulations might have different costs. Pharmacists can’t change the prescription from a capsule to a tablet on their own, without consulting with the prescribing provider. This might result in unexpected costs.
Providers’ patient instructions are still incomprehensible! Pharmacists often have to play translator (maybe because as the report alludes to, the instructions are intended for pharmacist eyes, not the patient.)

an independent pharmacist explained, ‘A lot of times we can’t copy the directions word for word because the patient doesn’t understand them, just like with paper prescriptions. We have to go in and erase ‘t.i.d.’ and put in, ‘One tablet three times a day’.’


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 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 and 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.