EHR Funding

Don’t Wait for EHRs to Become Mandatory

The question that should be on the minds of most doctors isn’t whether to switch your practice over from paper records to electronic health records, it should be when. Eventually it will be more than just a good idea; it will be virtually mandatory as EHRs start to be implemented by state health legislations for anyone who wished to continue practicing medicine across all specialties.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), provides an unprecedented opportunity and financial motivation for providers to adopt new health information technology. Under terms of the act, doctors are eligible to receive incentive payments for converting to electronic health records (EHR)—provided your office meets the federal requirements by adopting a certified EHR product and then continuing to use the certified EHR meaningfully in your practice.

True certified EHR systems differ from mere electronic record-keeping and digital note-taking systems. True certified EHRs contain all the health records of a patient—including radiology and lab reports and narrative reports generated by outside specialists. Certified EHRs can organize multiple pieces of data in ways that improve patient care and help you, the doctor, manage an entire population of patients. You might sort your patient roster to see who his high cholesterol, for example. Were all of those patients given home exercises? Nutrition recommendations? If not, you can e-mail them now with appropriate recommendations without scheduling an additional office visit. Is there a contraindication in prescribing a medication based on information from a different office visit at another doctor’s office? A certified EHR would allow you to see this as well as pass along your recommendations and diagnoses to future health care professionals treating your patient.

Just as important, EHRs will be able to connect to the nationwide data bank of health information making treatment more effective and less redundant. The systems will be interoperable, and records of the treatments patients have received elsewhere will be immediately accessible.

What’s more, pertinent bodies such as the CDC and WHO will have HIPAA-compliant access to this information, too. “Now we can demonstrate outcomes,” says Dr. Kraus. “All the data is there in the EHR. We can prove the effectiveness on a much more global scale. Rather than a study with 300 patients, now we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of patients’ data that we can study.” This translates to a better health care system, and healthier patients.

Although electronic health records are not yet mandatory nationwide, states like Minnesota have already implemented the first step and mandated that by 2015 all health care providers must have certified EHRs in place. 5+ other states are also arguing implementing a certified EHR mandate as everyone starts to get on board with the improved health care vision set forth.

The questions is not a matter of if EHRs will be mandated nationwide, but a matter of when. Take advantage of the government incentives that are out there for your practice to switch over to EHRs that not only benefit you as a provider, but your patients as well giving them better control over their health care. Give EHR Funding a call today and a government funding specialist will be able to get your practice on the right track to compliance and incentive funding to pay for these upgrades, as well. Call 866-203-3260 today.

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The Key Benefits of Electronic Health Records.

Medical professionals in the United States have invested in some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment in the world, but when it comes to keeping track of patients’ medical histories, doctors and hospitals still rely primarily on pen and paper. Members of both political parties champion converting all of that paperwork into a comprehensive system of electronic health records, and the government is finally providing incentives to make that dream a reality. The 2009 stimulus bill supplied funding for doctors and hospitals to upgrade their record-keeping systems, and President Obama has expressed that he’d like every American to have an electronic health record by 2015 [source: Pear]. Why would the government make this investment? Analysts predict that electronic health records could save the U.S. billions of dollars in health care spending, and their use has been linked to better patient care. Here are five examples of what those savings and better health outcomes might look like.

All right, this seems like an obvious one — if your medical record is electronic, then of course there’d be less paperwork, right? But take a minute to think about the ramifications of fewer file drawers. Currently, every time you see a new doctor, you fill out a sheaf of papers. But with access to an electronic health record, your doctor will already have information about any medications you take, the results of any lab tests you’ve ever had and any health issues you’re facing. Doctors and nurses won’t have to pull charts and transcribe information, so they could possibly have more time and more meaningful interactions with patients. And surely you’ve heard jokes about doctors’ bad handwriting? No longer will nurses or patients waste time trying to figure out a doctor’s orders, since he or she will use a computer or electronic device to make them. That benefit is key to the next item on our list, as well.

Less Paperwork

All right, this seems like an obvious one — if your medical record is electronic, then of course there’d be less paperwork, right? But take a minute to think about the ramifications of fewer file drawers. Currently, every time you see a new doctor, you fill out a sheaf of papers. But with access to an electronic health record, your doctor will already have information about any medications you take, the results of any lab tests you’ve ever had and any health issues you’re facing. Doctors and nurses won’t have to pull charts and transcribe information, so they could possibly have more time and more meaningful interactions with patients. And surely you’ve heard jokes about doctors’ bad handwriting? No longer will nurses or patients waste time trying to figure out a doctor’s orders, since he or she will use a computer or electronic device to make them. That benefit is key to the next item on our list, as well.

Fewer Prescription Drug Errors

When a doctor prescribes new medication to a patient, he or she will do so electronically so that it shows up on the person’s medical record. The electronic record-keeping system is equipped to compare that medication to the patient’s medical history, and it will send an alert to the doctor if the new prescription could cause allergic reactions in the patient or interact negatively with other medications that the patient takes. In this way, the electronic health record provides a check on the doctor’s work and prevents medical errors before they happen, reducing hospitalization rates related to adverse drug reactions. The record-keeping system will also alert the doctor if there’s a comparable generic version of the drug that should be considered, possibly saving the patient a little money, too.

Better Coordinated Care

Doctors are busy people, and just because one doctor refers a patient to a specialist, that doesn’t mean he or she will have the time to explain what’s going on. If you see several doctors, each may keep a separate chart for you. You could be subjected to the same diagnostic test several times, which is a waste of money and time. With access to an electronic health record that provides the big picture, one doctor will know what all other doctors in your life have done, what’s worked and what hasn’t. This will help medical professionals make more precise diagnoses and manage treatments for chronic diseases.

Improved Management of Chronic Conditions

Doctors who use electronic health records have reported that the technology makes them better doctors, leading to superior patient care.

A 2013 study compared medical treatment in hospitals with advanced electronic health record-keeping systems to hospitals with more basic systems and hospitals with no computerized records. In the case of treating heart failure, hospitals with advanced systems met federal best-practice quality standards 87.8 percent of the time, while those with a basic system did so 80.7 percent of the time and those with no system did so 75.9 percent of the time.

More Lives Saved with Preventive Care

The best way to save money and time is to avoid getting sick in the first place. Too often, we neglect the screenings and appointments that could keep us healthier in the long run, but an electronic health record system can provide alerts to medical professionals that you’re in need of a checkup. Basic information on your medical record — age, family history and gender — can be compared against a database of best practices and governmental guidelines, and the system will alert the doctor that you should receive a Pap smear or a flu shot, for example. Some systems may even be able to send you an e-mail reminding you to schedule the appointment. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, such preventive care is covered at no out-of-pocket costs under most health insurance plans.

The affordable care act set aside millions in funding assistance for practices to upgrade to electronic health records. If your practice is ready to make the switch to electronic health records then give EHR Funding a call today at 866-203-3260 and a funding specialist will help walk you through the process.

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Electronic Health Records to Help Reduce Hospital Re-admissions

As health care providers work to reduce hospital re-admissions and improving patient outcomes, pharmacists and technology may provide a solution. The marriage of technology and pharmacists’ care could create a path for care-collaboration and patient involvement across all health care specialties.

Camille Charbonneau, PharmD, and Stephen Jon Kogut, PharmD, of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island, see electronic health records (EHRs), personal health records (PHRs), and electronic personal health records (ePHRs) being the future of health care; they will facilitate medical interventions that may not have been caught with paper charting, as well as collaboration between health care professional team members across multiple specialties.

“Electronic health records are a great way to marry the medications and the disease states, and how they all play together,” Dr. Kogut said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “It provides the gold standard of medications that the patient should be taking.”

Drs. Charbonneau and Kogut explored the use of EHRs, PHRs, and ePHRs after patients were discharged from the hospital in a study published in the January 17, 2014, edition of Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety.

“The hope is to meet them at the sweet spot,” Dr. Charbonneau said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “We met with them between [their] discharge [from the hospital] and their first visit with their primary care provider.”

The technology is particularly poised to become a pharmacist’s forte because it meshes well with the pharmacist’s existing practice, Dr. Charbonneau noted. In their study, the pharmacists introduced ePHRs to patients during home visits in which they also used their electronic health records software to reconcile the patients’ medication lists accurately with all of the patients’ health records available instantly.

The home visits included a tutorial on the ePHR program (ER-Card) and in some cases, a tutorial on various computer hardware aspects such as accessing a flash drive so that patients had secure and instant access to their own personal health records as well. “The dialogue just grows based on how you approach it,” Dr. Charbonneau stated. “But it’s not just, ‘Here; let me plug in my laptop and just go.’ You ease into it” as patients and health care providers learn to reap the full benefits of electronic health records together.

ER-Card also offers a help platform which participants could call if they had trouble accessing their health records, the researchers noted. Participants who did not want to adopt the ePHRs received a printed copy of their medical record instead, to best suit the patients’ needs and lifestyle.

The EHR technology will benefit pharmacists, dentists, physicians, and other health care providers, especially if they enter in to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The goal of all ACOs is to improve patient care and minimize waste and medical errors, making EHRs their key to success by increasing efficiency and lowering cost.

“If pharmacy is going to participate in an ACO-based care model, part of that value is going to be preventing readmissions,” Dr. Kogut said. Both Drs. Kogut and Charbonneau see electronic health records becoming an integral part of patient involvement, as well as something that will enter community pharmacy practice.

“This enables pharmacists to say, ‘Here is the list we have, but you should reconcile this with your own list,’” Dr. Kogut said. “I think the community pharmacists can encourage patients to reconcile that list with their doctors’ list, and with the list from the hospital.”

The affordable care act set aside millions in funding assistance for practices to upgrade to electronic health records. If your practice is ready to make the switch to electronic health records then give EHR Funding a call today at 866-203-3260 and a funding specialist will help walk you through the process.

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Studies Show Electronic Health Record Use Leads to Better Care

Doctors who go digital do appear to provide significantly better health care, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

US health authorities as well as the federal government itself are pushing doctors, clinics and health centers to move into the digital world. The US government has introduced incentives worth up to $29 billion for “meaningful” use of EHRs (electronic health records). Health authorities say with such modern technology doctors, clinics and hospitals will be able to better track and improve patient outcomes.

Lisa Kern and team set out to determine what effect EHRs might have on the ambulatory care quality in a community-based setting. They compared the performance of doctors who used electronic health records to those with manual (paper) records.

They gathered and examined data on 466 primary care physicians (general practitioners) who had a total of 74,618 patients. They all worked in private practices in the Hudson Valley, New York.

The researchers focused on nine specific measures:

  • cholesterol testing
  • colorectal cancer screening
  • eye examinations
  • hemoglobin testing
  • renal function testing for patients with diabetes
  • screening for breast cancer
  • screening for chlamydia
  • sore throat testing for children
  • upper respiratory infection treatment for children

Fifty-seven per cent of the GPs in this study had electronic health records and used them, while the the rest were still on manual paper systems.

The researchers found that those with electronic health records provided superior health care services compared to the paper-records ones. In these four measures, doctors with electronic health records were considerably superior in their quality of care – Chlamydia screening, breast cancer screening, hemoglobin testing in diabetes, and colorectal cancer screening.

Electronic Health Records

Overall, electronic health record usage leads to better health care services, the researchers concluded:

“We found that electronic health record use is associated with higher quality ambulatory care. This study’s finding is consistent with national efforts to promote meaningful use of EHRs.”

Doctors generally welcome electronic health record usage. The American College of Physicians (ACP) published a study which showed that the vast majority of doctors believe electronic exchange of health data will have a positive impact on improving patient-care quality, coordination care, and will meet the demands of new care models.

Michael S. Barr, MD, FACP, MBA, who leads ACP’s Medical Practice, Professionalism & Quality division, said:

“The exchange of patient health information across care settings is a critical component to the success of the new models to improve care, such as the patient-centered medical home. ACP agrees with the 78 percent of survey respondents who believe that exchanging health information will have a positive effect on clinicians’ ability to meet the demands of these new care models.”

How do patients feel about having their medical records being digitized?

In New York State, patients have to consent to having their data accessed through a health information exchange (HIE). In general, they are happy for their data to be shared electronically, as long as their privacy is respected.

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College telephone-surveyed 170 residents and found that over two-thirds of respondents were happy to have their health data automatically stored in an HIE.

Is your practice ready to make the switch to electronic health records but unsure of how to qualify for the government assistance that was put into place by the affordable care act? If so give EHR Funding a call today at 866-203-3260 today. One of our trained funding specialists will be able to walk you through the steps to qualifying and receiving your health care stimulus funding.

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Healthcare Innovations Driven by Electronic Health Records & Open Data

Three years ago, Jeopardy fans got to see Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, beat two human Jeopardy champions to take a $1 million prize. Watson’s skill at the game derived not just from its computing power but from its ability to process huge amounts of data rapidly. The next year, IBM and the Cleveland Clinic announced that Watson was turning to more serious pursuits and had “enrolled” in medical school. It’s been a productive partnership: Last month, they launched a new Watson program using genomic data to find the best options for cancer patients.

Watson’s venture into healthcare is part of a new movement to data-driven medicine. The federal government has recently released large amounts of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration, among other agencies. At the same time, several other trends — the use of electronic medical records, an explosion of data about the human genome, and advances in data analysis — have given us the potential for a revolution in healthcare.

We can look forward to more data-driven diagnostics, treatment plans, and predictive analytics to determine the best treatments more scientifically. Many experts now think we’re on the verge of a new era of personalized medicine, where an individual’s data — ranging from genetic makeup to exercise habits — can be used with the right algorithms to help determine a strategy for care.

Here are nine companies that are using that data for good:

Aidin

Aidin is dedicated to helping hospital patients find better post-hospitalization care. CEO and founder Russ Graney saw the need for Aidin when his uncle was discharged from the hospital with nothing but a typed list of healthcare providers for guidance. The family chose one that happened to be nearby, and the uncle did not get the quality of care he needed. Now Aidin provides in-depth information to help patients and their families choose their best options.

Biodigital

Biodigital runs what might be the most intriguing-looking health website and mobile apps. It offers a voluminous library of 3D anatomical models drawn from the National Institutes of Health Visible Human project, with National Library of Medicine text to explain them. It’s like the old Visible Man and Visible Woman anatomy kits made real, or the Bodies museum exhibit made less grisly.

Clear Health Costs

Clear Health Costs, founded by health activist Jeanne Pinder, bills itself as “your source for finding health care prices.” The company uses pricing surveys on a few dozen common procedures, Medicare data from the federal government, and crowd sourced data on healthcare prices gathered from volunteers. Its motto is “Free the knowledge. Everybody should know what stuff costs in health care.”

iTriage

iTriage, started by an emergency room doctor and recently acquired by Aetna, lets you use a website or your smartphone to enter your symptoms, get quick advice on the kind of care you need, and get a list of nearby emergency facilities that can help. iTriage uses open data from the US National Provider Identifier Registry to identify physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers able to help in a crisis.

Purple Binder

Purple Binder fills an important public need: It matches patients with community services that can help keep them healthy. The company uses federal, state, and local data to help people locate food pantries, homeless shelters, and other services. As founder Joseph Flesh said at last June’s Health Datapalooza: “We’re working toward putting community and health on the same page” by making connections between healthcare services and social services.

Flatiron Oncology Cloud

Flatiron Health, which uses data to accelerate cancer research, is a rising star: The startup recently raised $130 million in a round of funding led by Google Ventures. Flatiron uses real-time data from patient records to create “a data platform that provides the most comprehensive view of a patient’s experience in the oncology office in real-time.” The company plans to offer a wealth of data from millions of cases so that researchers, doctors, and patients can develop new treatments and make better decisions on cancer care.

Iodine

Iodine aims to improve healthcare by personalizing it for each individual. The company puts together data on drug treatments from government sources, research, and patient input to provide a complete guide to drug effectiveness, side effects, tradeoffs, and costs.

Predilytics

Predilytics applies predictive analytics to healthcare to help health plans and providers make better care decisions. By using data to improve patient care, the company “enables our customers to target their resources in ways that improve the health of their member population and improve their performance.”

Propeller Health

Propeller Health uses sensors in asthma inhalers, mobile apps, and data analytics to aid doctors in identifying asthma patients who need more help in controlling their illness. In addition to helping physicians monitor their patients remotely, Propeller Health helps public health experts visualize asthma rates in different communities and devise preventive strategies.

Electronic Health Records and open data are driving new innovations in the health care field. If you or your office is interested in learning how you can qualify for government incentives to switch from paper records to Electronic Health Records give us a call today at 866-203-3260 today.

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What Advantages do Electronic Health Records Provide?

Having Electronic Health Records in your can give you the ability to exchange health information electronically and can help your organization provide higher quality and safer care for patients while creating tangible enhancements for your clinic. Electronic Health Records help providers just like you provide better manage care for patients and provide better health care by:

  • Providing accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care
  • Enabling quick access to patient records for more coordinated, efficient care
  • Securely sharing electronic information with patients and other clinicians
  • Helping providers more effectively diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care
  • Improving patient and provider interaction and communication, as well as health care convenience
  • Enabling safer, more reliable prescribing
  • Helping promote legible, complete documentation and accurate, streamlined coding and billing
  • Enhancing privacy and security of patient data
  • Helping providers improve productivity and work-life balance
  • Enabling providers to improve efficiency and meet their business goals
  • Reducing costs through decreased paperwork, improved safety, reduced duplication of testing, and improved health.

There are many other advantages to instituting the use of Electronic Health Records in your office. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are the first step to transformed health care. The benefits of electronic health records include:

  • Better health care by improving all aspects of patient care, including safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, communication, education, timeliness, efficiency, and equity.
  • Better health by encouraging healthier lifestyles in the entire population, including increased physical activity, better nutrition, avoidance of behavioral risks, and wider use of preventative care.
  • Improved efficiencies and lower health care costs by promoting preventative medicine and improved coordination of health care services, as well as by reducing waste and redundant tests.
  • Better clinical decision making by integrating patient information from multiple sources.

If you or your office are looking at changing from the old paper records to the new Electronic Health Records then give EHR Funding a call today and a specialist will be able to help you with getting the government assistance that is out there for upgrading to EHR’s. 866-203-3260 today.

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Would Lives Be Saved if Social & Behavorial Data Were in Electronic Health Records?

If social and behavioral data were included in electronic medial recorders if could help nurses and physicians have a better picture of the patient’s health.

Social and behavioral data provide crucial information about factors that influence health and effectiveness of treatment and should be incorporated into patient electronic health records (EHR), according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM)

The IOM committee, co-chaired by Nancy Adler, PhD, vice-chair of the department of psychiatry at UC San Francisco and William Stead, M.D., of Vanderbilt University, was created in 2013 to conduct a two-phase study, first to identify the social and behavioral areas that most strongly determine health, and then to evaluate the measures that can most effectively be used in EHRs.Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, of the UCSF Department of Medicine, also served on the committee.

The committee reviewed the evidence linking social conditions and health behaviors to health, which suggests that health behaviors such as alcohol use, and social conditions such as financial resource strain account for more than half of all premature deaths in the United States. They evaluated more than 70 relevant domains and subdomains, 17 of which were judged to be most valuable for inclusion in electronic health records.

“Having access to information about health-related aspects of a patient’s life in the electronic health record can enable clinicians to make more accurate diagnoses and engage more effectively with the patient in making treatment choices,” said Adler. “The information can also help health systems understand the needs of the populations they serve and design more effective services.”

The second phase of the report, published Nov. 13, details 12 social and behavioral factors that should be included in electronic health records.

The new report, Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures in Electronic Health Records: Phase 2, recommends that providers use their EHRs to capture patients’ census information including race, ethnicity and address, in addition to tracking alcohol use, tobacco use and exposure, physical activity, educational attainment, social connections, depression, stress, financial resource strain, neighborhood and community compositional characteristics and exposure to violence.

“When analyzed along with genomic and clinical data, standardized social and behavior information in EHRs can enable new discoveries regarding the etiology and progress of disease,” said Adler. “It can also point to the effectiveness of specific treatments for patients with different psychosocial and biological profiles.”

What are your thoughts? Are you ready to make the switch from paper records to electronic health records? If your or your office is ready to make the switch to electronic health records then give EHR Funding a call today at 866-203-3260

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Electronic Health Records and Patient Care

When her 5-week-old daughter Scarlett was hospitalized in March with a potentially life-threatening respiratory virus, Melissa Marote of Canoga Park, Calif., was too distraught to remember everything the doctors and nurses told her. Fortunately, she was able to access her daughter’s complete medical records, 24 hours a day, via computer or smartphone through a member portal called “My Health Manager” on kp.org, operated by Kaiser Permanente, which serves as both health insurer and care provider for 8.9 million people in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Marote can review test results and care instructions, request prescription refills, schedule appointments, and swap secure E-mails with her family’s doctors, which she does frequently. “They’re very good about getting back to me, no matter where I am,” she says.

Kaiser is a leader in giving patients online access to their medical information, but this type of access is spreading quickly. “A lot of people have been concerned that technology would put more distance between doctors and patients, but in our experience it brings them closer together,” says Phil Fasano, Kaiser’s chief information officer.

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $20 billion in incentive payments to physicians and hospitals to accelerate their adoption of electronic health records, or EHRs. “This is a huge change—hospitals are adopting EHRs rapidly and trying to figure out how to use them effectively to improve care,” says David Bates, chief quality officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It’s a very exciting time.”

How will electronic health records change things for patients? These are some key ways:

All-in-one file. Donna Gaidamak was diagnosed four years ago with adenocarcinoma and receives her care through the Kellogg Cancer Center at NorthShore University Health­System in Evanston, Ill. Kellogg has had its current electronic health record system since 2003. “I feel reassured knowing that everyone who’s helping me is tapped into a system where they can see everything that affects my care,” she says. For example, Gaidamak is allergic to a dye commonly used for CT scans of the chest, and all her providers see this information when they open her records.

NorthShore chief information officer Steven Smith estimates that over 60 percent of emergency room patients already have an electronic record in the system when they come in the door. Thus, the attending physicians can instantly access critical information like medication alerts, allergies, and existing medical problems—saving time, money, and even lives.

Electronic prescribing. Your doctor can transmit prescriptions directly to your pharmacy, often in time for you to pick up your medication on the way home. Last year, more than 570 million prescriptions—about 36 percent of the total—were routed electronically, according to Surescripts, the secure network that carries the vast majority of electronic prescriptions between healthcare providers and pharmacies.

24-hour access. Jennifer Brown, an executive assistant at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as well as a patient there, received the results of a recent test via smartphone while her doctor was vacationing abroad. In a paper-based system, she would have had to wait until the doctor returned, reviewed the result, and sent her a copy in the mail. Brown uses UPMC’s HealthTrak patient portal to keep track of information on her children (ages 13, 10, and 9) and her 79-year-old mother. The system lets her print a wallet card with all her mother’s medications—a huge improvement over the handwritten list on paper the family had previously used. She can print out a new card whenever her mother’s meds change.

Smarter decision-making. By looking at information from thousands of patients (much easier to do with computers than by collating paper reports), health researchers can identify which treatments work best, and EHR systems incorporate that information to help doctors treat the patient. For example, the EHR used at Brigham and Women’s recommends medication dosages based on the patient’s level of kidney function as determined by lab tests. “That has really improved the safety of giving medication,” Bates says, noting that the hospital has cut half a day, on average, from the hospital stays of patients who have renal issues.

Protecting privacy. Though some may worry about the security of patient portals, experts say accessing your health information online is no more risky than using online banking. Paper records represented roughly one in four major breaches.

If you or your office is looking at upgrading to Electronic Health Records and are not sure where to get started, give us a call at 866-203-3260 today. We have specialists that you can talk to about how to qualify for the government incentives programs.

Telehealth EHR Funding

Is Telehealth Finally Here?

According to an article published in the Herald Journal, the history of telemedicine can be traced back to the 1920s, when patients on ships at sea would connect with physicians on shore through radios. With innovation in technology, telemedicine services were provided through interactive television in the 1970s and via video conferencing in the age of digital technology.

However, the evolution of telemedicine has been curtailed in every period of time – lack of technology in the early 20th century to government regulations in the 21st century – which has added to the skepticism of physicians.

Barriers to adopt Telemedicine healthcare

Under the government’s Affordable Care Act, focus has shifted to cost-effective, quality patient care that has given rise to different approaches of healthcare delivery such as Accountable Care Organizations and telemedicine. However, there are certain barriers to adopting telemedicine at a practice:

  1.      Barrier to establish patient-physician relationship

This is the major concern for primary care and specialist physicians, who haven’t introduced telemedicine at their practices. Initially, they hesitate that the use of telemedicine will hinder them from developing effective patient-physician relationship, which will affect outcomes.

2.      Barrier to prevalent practice workflow

Another barrier that most physicians face is disruption to prevailing workflows. Physicians have adapted to changes in the health IT industry by implementing EHR technology at their practices and designing new workflows accordingly.

However, they are hesitant to adopt telehealth, fearing that it will not be possible to incorporate this approach with the current workflow that is suitable for the new technology they have spent heavily on.

3.      Barrier to medical practice beyond state borders

State and federal laws regarding physicians’ license and reimbursement procedures create a barrier to telemedicine adoption. According to the law, physicians should be licensed to provide medical services in the state they have physical presence in and where they provide telehealth services.

Moreover, changes to reimbursements – shift from value to volume – make it harder for practices to collect from patients via telemedicine.

Benefits of Telehealth services

Despite an air of skepticism among providers, telemedicine is growing by leaps and bounds. Medical Economics, quoting statistics from an IMS research, said over 300,000 patients were monitored via telehealth services for various health problems including cardiac, mental health and diabetes in 2012. The report further said that the number is expected to increase to 1.8 million by 2017.

Assisting home care patients

Telemedicine has made a difference in lives of home care patients by providing telehealth services. Its effectiveness can be measured from the success of a healthcare program introduced by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Department that aimed to provide telehealth services to home care patients with chronic diseases.

The services were provided via vital sign monitors, videophones, digital cameras – specifically for wounded patients and those having skin-related issues. Within four years of starting the program, 30,000 patients enrolled to receive telehealth services bringing down hospital visits by 19% which helped in saving costs.

Assisting patients in rural areas

Telemedicine has been particularly helpful in providing efficient and quality health service to patients living in rural and remote areas. Rural primary care physicians have used telehealth approach to facilitate their practice and patients by:

  • Providing quality healthcare within the community
  • Saving cost and time on travelling to city
  • Making medical care available round the clock
  • Providing emergency care to patient prior to transporting them to hospital
  • Making initial diagnosis prior to specialist consultation
  • Consulting with specialist

Assisting primary care physicians

Primary care practices have faced setback because of increase in specialist practices and changes in the health IT sector. According to a study, Primary Care: Current Problems and Proposed Solutions, a shortage of over 40,000 primary care physicians is expected by 2025.

Telemedicine has played a role in primary care health as it has proven to be a successful approach to provide cost and time effective healthcare to patients, resulting in patient retention.

  • Primary physicians can team up with specialists to provide healthcare
  • Facilitate hospitals in providing post-surgery general medical care according to specialist instructions
  • Providing cost effective care in nursing homes
  • Giving privacy to patients suffering from diseases that are still stigmatized in closed communities, like HIV and mental health issues

Solutions to Barriers for Telehealth

Dr. Adam Darkins, chief consultant for telehealth services at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has emphasized on the importance of relationship between patients and their physicians for telemedicine system to function effectively.

Dr. Jason Mitchell, director of AAFP’s Center for Health IT clarified that telemedicine is not different from regular medicine practice. He explained that only difference is the mode of interaction between the doctor and the patient.

However, the government needs to make certain provisions in order to remove barriers that hinder success of telemedicine.

  • Flexibility in practice license for telehealth physicians: Telemedicine providers should be given relaxation to practice medicine in states other than their own. This way government can cover the shortage of primary care physicians and facilitate them to recruit patients to meet their costs.
  • Modify reimbursement policies: With changes in insurance policies, patient payments have become a major part of collections. This will create further problems for practices to collect payments from patients who have received consultation via telemedicine.

Changes under the Affordable Care Act are all about providing cost effective, quality healthcare services to patients that can be achieved through telemedicine system. This system is particularly beneficial for small to medium practices that can provide services to more patients, while saving time and money.

If you or your practice is interested in learning more about how you can qualify for government incentives for Electronic Health Records. Give us a call today at 1-866-203-3260 and speak with a government assistance specialist today.

 

doc on tablet

Mobile Health and Electronic Health Records

Mobile Health and EHRs are intersecting in creative ways, as evidenced by an Atlanta company’s new iPad-enabled platform for the home health and hospice market.

Brightree recently unveiled the EHR point-of-care app, calling it the first “native iOS app” for home health and hospice agencies. Specialty-specific platforms are a hot commodity, and many are being developed as mobile tools to target clinicians outside the traditional hospital setting. In fact, companies like Practice Fusion and Kareo are making a name for themselves in the post-acute care environment with platforms that can be easily accessed on mobile devices.

Another player in the market is HealthFusion, a 16-year-old company that touts its MediTouch EHR as “the only EHR that’s native to the iPad,” according to company co-founder Sol Lizerbram.

“How do you practice healthcare outside the hospital without mHealth?” Lizerbram asked, adding that patient-centered medical home guidelines practically cry out for a platform that’s accessible via mobile device. “You just can’t do it these days with a PC.”

What’s more, Lizerbram added, today’s EHRs have to be customizable. Legacy EHRs are too static, with templates that don’t conform to the different specialties and healthcare mandates that no dominate the market.

Jon Skypek, Brightree’s project manager, told mHealth News he spent many hours with home health and hospice nurses on the road, examining their workflows and witnessing the challenges of collecting data in locations outside the hospital or clinic. This is where the traditional legacy EMR platform isn’t working, he said, and where mHealth innovation can make a difference.

“This is an environment where you can’t set something up in the morning and leave it there all day,” Skypek said. “It’s a mobile environment, and even the idea of bringing a two- or three- or four-pound laptop is just annoying.”

Likewise, he said, “the accuracy of documentation goes down as soon as you step outside that door. You need solutions that are more than just mobile web pages.”

“What’s the best form factor that allows me to react to the unknown?” Skypek asked.

As a case in point, Lizerbram offered a recent customer experience. A doctor using the MediTouch EHR on his iPad, he said, was able to access a patient’s records while sitting in the back of a taxi, coordinate with a hospital’s emergency room as the patient was being brought in by ambulance, and have the patient’s complete medical history updated and ready when the ambulance reached the hospital.

“You never could have done that with a payphone and a legacy EHR,” he said.

One of the early users of Brightree’s new EHR platform is the Natick (Mass.) Visiting Nurse Association.

“Brightree Home Health with point-of-care on the iPad gives us a distinct advantage,” Wendy Cofran, the VNA’s chief information officer, said in a press release. “Our clinicians have the information they need at their fingertips to deliver the best possible care to their patients without having a barrier between them. In fact, our patients appreciate being able to see the progress they’re making. The iPad creates a visual connection for patients to their individualized care plans, and it assists our staff with teaching and compliance.”

“It’s a game changer,” she said. “Not only are we seeing a reduction in the time required to document visits but a more thorough clinical documentation application, which is vital in an era of increasing regulatory requirements.”

Lizerbram sees another trend making a play for mobile EHRs. In the future, he said, these platforms are going to be able to incorporate data from mobile devices, ranging from home-based monitoring equipment to consumer-facing health and wellness devices. That will make for a more complete medical record, he said.

It will also require EHR vendors to parse through all that data and separate what’s important to the doctor from the chaff. Lizerbram says mobile platforms will have to incorporate analytics.

“You have to be prepared. The doctor doesn’t want to be slowed down,” Lizerbam said. “With mobile, you’re already working in a fast-paced setting, adapting to (one’s surroundings). This will just be an extension of that.”