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Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
Eight things that will make your EMR work for you
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Eight things that will make your EMR work for you

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  • 1. Health Information Associates of Texas EIGHT T HINGS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR EMR WORK FOR YOU – INSTEAD OF THE OTHER WAY AROUND By: Ed Taylor Health Information Associates of Texas Austin, Texas 512-964-1934 ed.taylor@healthinfotexas.com PURPOSEDo we all get it now that purchasing an electronic medical record (EMR) system isprobably one of the most important decisions a practice will make? The systemsrequire major investments of time and money, and they bring fundamental change tothe practice’s clinical and business processes. Automation has a significant impact onall aspects of a practice; it literally alters the way healthcare services are delivered.This paper looks at eight practical suggestions which can help ensure a successful andsatisfactory shift from paper medical records to digital medical records. 5114 Balcones Woods Road Suite 307 #417 Austin, TX 78759 1-888-391-3964 www.healthinfotexas.com ed.taylor@healthinfotexas.com
  • 2. Table of ContentsPurpose......................................................................................................................................... 1Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 3EMR or EHR ? ............................................................................................................................ 3Controlling Your EMR Implementation Process .................................................................... 3Step One: Create a Positive, Forward Looking Attitude ........................................................ 4Step Two: Set Goals and Expectations...................................................................................... 4Step Three: Get Buy-In From Your Entire Team ................................................................... 4Step Four: Document Your Workflow and Identify Where Changes Will Need to beMade in Your Way of Doing Things ......................................................................................... 5Step Five: Understand the Technology Involved ..................................................................... 6 Hosting Model ......................................................................................................................... 6 Interfaces.................................................................................................................................. 7 Input Devices ........................................................................................................................... 8 Remote Access ......................................................................................................................... 8Step Six: Determining the Features that Your Practice Needs............................................... 8 Support for your specialty or specialties............................................................................... 8 Stimulus reimbursement ........................................................................................................ 8 Template management ........................................................................................................... 8 Document management .......................................................................................................... 9 Patient education..................................................................................................................... 9 Prescription refill .................................................................................................................... 9 Ease of data entry and ease of access to H & P and notes................................................... 9 Voice recognition..................................................................................................................... 9 Interface with PMS, labs and imaging centers..................................................................... 9 Clinical decision support and evidence-based medicine...................................................... 9 Regulatory requirements that may be peculiar to your state ............................................. 9Step Seven: Be in Charge!!!! ...................................................................................................... 9Step Eight: Selecting the Right System ................................................................................... 10Final Thoughts........................................................................................................................... 11Pg 2 of 11
  • 3. INTRODUCTION Yogi Berra purportedly said “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.” Well, Ican’t see perfection coming any time soon. And speaking of perfection, hasanyone seen a “perfect” EMR system yet? A recent article posted atHealthcareITNews.com ran a headline which indicated that EMRs are still a“work in progress”. First of all, is that really the case? And – if so – should thatinformation change anything you are doing about acquiring an EMR?Below are listed eight things which you need to consider when purchasing anEMR. We know that following these eight principles will put your EMR to work for you!!!! Not the other wayaround. EMR OR EHR ? Multiple terms have been used to define electronic patient care records, with overlapping definitions. Bothelectronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) have gained widespread use, with somehealth informatics users assigning the term EHR to a global concept and EMR to a discrete localized record.For our purposes in this paper, the term EMR will be used. CONTROLLING YOUR EMR IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS Powerful prescription medications can be a great blessing. However, in order tobring about the desired effects, the correct medication must be selected and then itmust be administered in the correct dosage and administered in the propermanner and at the correct time intervals. Deviate from the correct path anddisaster can occur. Guess what? The same thing can happen with an EMRsystem that is not correctly selected, installed and used for its intended purpose.The financial impact can be significant. But just as troublesome and frustratingis the time and energy that can be expended fighting the losing battle of trying tomake something work that was doomed from the start.This paper will present eight strategic concepts which are designed to help you succeed in your EMRimplementation. Please note that this is NOT a step by step presentation on all the features you should look forin an EMR or which EMR you should purchase. Rather, it is designed to help you create a positive structure orframework in which the decision making process can take place. The goal is for your practice to use thetransition to electronic medical records as an opportunity to improve the operation of your practice andprovide quality patient care in an efficient manner.To help in your selection process, we have attached a document from the AMA entitled “15 QUESTIONS TO ASKBEFORE SIGNING AN ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORD OR ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD AGREEMENT”.Pg 3 of 11
  • 4. STEP ONE: CREATE A POSITIVE, FORWARD LOOKING ATTITUDE Following the fifth game of this year’s NBA Finals, ESPN interviewed some of the Laker players and askedthem what it would take for them to win the next game. The answers were very informative – and helpful.What they said – to a man – was “If we go out there with the right team attitude, we will win the series”. Theydid NOT include details of how the next game should be played, they did not talk about technique or ballcontrol, or how they needed to get the ball to Kobe more often (or less often). They knew that the key tosuccess was their attitude. Turns out they were right. Boston could have won the title but the Lakers wanted itmore.Too many practices fail in their EMR implementation because that infectious disease known as a “negativeattitude” was introduced early on in the process. It will infect everyone in the practice. It will infect the vendoryou select, it will infect your patients, and, before you know it, everyone is talking about what a bad selectionyou made.Start this process with an attitude that is positive = “Yes, this will improve our practice”, “Yes, we will makethis process positive”, “Yes, we will improve our patient care and our own work environment”. Rather thanfocusing on how this going to be such a big change, develop a forward-looking attitude. Embrace the change.Look forward to the journey. STEP TWO: SET GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS Knowing where you want to go and what you want to accomplish is essential to a successful EMRimplementation strategy.In setting your goals, you should consider the following: 1. am I interested only in an EMR 2. do I want to consider changing the practice management/billing software also 3. do I want to use this as an opportunity to review the entire operation of my practiceThink of a sliding scale. Where on that sliding scale do you want to be?EMR Only EMR and PMS Review Entire PracticeThis hopefully illustrates the real need for you – UP FRONT – to decide what you want to accomplish. STEP THREE: GET BUY­IN FROM YOUR ENTIRE TEAM Solicit input from your ENTIRE team/staff. Ask for their advice and input. Encourage discussion. Convey tothem your positive and forward-looking attitude we discussed above. Make sure that they know andPg 4 of 11
  • 5. understand what your goals are. Set their expectations Set up a process in order to allow them to expressthemselves during the implementation phase. STEP FOUR: DOCUMENT YOUR WORKFLOW AND IDENTIFY  WHERE CHANGES WILL NEED TO BE MADE IN YOUR WAY OF  DOING THINGS You and your staff have certain ways of doing things. They are called habits. Habits can be good things – theyallow us to do things without thinking about them or without having to recreate a procedure every time a taskneeds to get accomplished. However, hanging onto habits that are outdated or counter productive is not a goodthing.One of the well-known “best practices” in regard to EMR implementation calls for a review anddocumentation of your current procedures, policies and processes in order to help you understand how havingan EMR might change those processes.Some of the key business processes you should document include scheduling, triaging, patient registration,referral management, documentation of the patient encounter, orders, result management, protocols, treatmentplans, clinical decision support, copayment capture, claims processing, and billing. Good workflow mappingwill help you identify areas that need improvement in your office and consequently create specifications forthe EMR system you select.Schedule time with your team to document how the above items are carried out in your office. Get a floor planof your practice and outline the flow of office staff and patients during a patient visit. This will help youvisualize the changes that may come with the acquisition of an EMR.Focus on the value-added activities; that is, activities that directly affect the patient or the quality of care thepatient receives or which have an impact on the profitability of your organization.Understand how an EMR will impact them and make plans for the necessary changes that will need to bemade. Pay attention in particular to the following: • How the work gets done • Identify who does the work • Identify your critical practice processes • Understand how the patient moves through your processes • Identify the triggers that move the patients from process to process or from one part of the process to anotherRequire everyone in your practice to consider the role they play and consider how this might be impacted bymoving to an electronic medical record as opposed to a paper-based record. Emphasize that you are notlooking to reduce staff – only to understand how to best utilize the personnel that you have.  Pg 5 of 11
  • 6. STEP FIVE: UNDERSTAND THE TECHNOLOGY INVOLVED If you think you do not need to worry about or concern yourself with the technology involved and the choicesyou have, you are almost assuredly dooming yourself to failure. The key decision points are as follows andwill be discussed in more detail below: 1. hosting model - client-server or ASP (application service provider) 2. interfaces between EMR and other software applications (practice management system, labs, patient portal, etc). 3. input devices (desk tops, tablet PC, PDAs, etc.) 4. ability to access key components of system remotely (prescription refills, schedules, patient notes, etc).Hosting ModelWhere and how your system is hosted or resides is important and you should understand the distinctions. Inthe client-server model, the software is installed on a server located in your practice. In the ASP or data-centermodel, the software is installed on a remote server in a data center. The table on the following page summarizes the main differences between the a client-server based model andan ASP or hosted model.Pg 6 of 11
  • 7. Client-Server vs. Application Service Provider (ASP) Models Client-Server ASP ModelCosts Higher up-front costs because Lower up-front costs but there hardware must be purchased are monthly fees because you and dedicated to one are, in effect, leasing or application. Practice owns renting the equipment on equipment and must maintain which your application is and upgrade. running.Location of software and In physician’s office on In a remote location – mostdata server. commonly in a secure data center.Data backup and recovery Usually the responsibility of Data backup and disaster the practice or office where recovery are usually part of data is located. the services provided under an ASP model. Make sure you know.Maintenance of server Since you own it, it is usually The vendor or data-center your responsibility to hosting the software usually maintain the server. If it takes care of the equipment crashes, there may be little the and will provide equipment vendor can do. upgrades periodically as part of the hosting agreement.Remote Access to Data If the internet connection to Usually, data centers have a office is down, you will not “larger data pipeline” and a be able to access system more robust and secure remotely. connection to the internet. This is not a given so you will need to check this out.InterfacesYou will want your practice management system (PMS) to integrate or interface with your EMR whether youacquire a new PMS system or whether you keep your existing system. Some vendors offer systems that arealready “internally” integrated. That is, you do not need to worry about how the data moves from one to theother. However, if you keep your existing PMS system or go with a “best-of-breed” approach, you willdefinitely need an interface.Are you going to want to interface with laboratory or radiology imaging systems? If so, you need an interface.The same applies to sharing data with a Patient Portal or health information exchange (HIE). You will need tointerface to move the data from one system to the other.Interfaces are usually not put into place and tested until the implementation phase. By that time, it is too late tolearn that you may not be able to connect the systems that you thought you would be able to. You cannotassume that an EMR will communicate with every other electronic system that you have. This must becarefully analyzed and documented with the EMR vendor and PUT IN WRITING during the contractnegotiation phase. You may want to consider legal advice to put you in a stronger position.Pg 7 of 11
  • 8. Input DevicesWhile we are all enamored with the latest technology (iPad,Android, Black Berry, etc), you may have people in your practice thatjust need to access the system from the plain ole desktopcomputer. On the other hand, if you have a technology drivenpractice, you will want to check out the latest “apps” your vendor hasfor these other devices. From the physician and nurses’standpoint, they will probably want a light-weight tablet PC thatthey can carry around the office with them and enter data as they arevisiting with the patient.Remote AccessOne of the advantages of having patient data in an electronic format is that it is potentially easier to access.And “easier to access” usually means via the internet – from home, from another office location, while onvacation, while traveling, etc.Think about what is important to you. Do you write a lot of prescriptions? If so, prescription refills may be aheadache that the proper EMR can alleviate. Do you want to access your patient schedule remotely? Do youwant the ability to communicate with internal staff quickly and easily through your EMR (sending notes,documents, etc)?Make sure that you determine in advance which of these features are important to your practice and thenprioritize them. STEP SIX: DETERMINING THE FEATURES THAT YOUR PRACTICE  NEEDS Speaking of features, now is the time to go to work and make that list of features that are important to yourpractice. Some of the high lights of that list might include:Support for your specialty or specialties - It matters not how great the system looks or how manytechnological innovations it has, if it doesn’t have the specialty specific features that you need, it will beliterally worthless. You know better than anyone what your specific needs are. List them to ensure that thevendors are able to demonstrate exactly what you are looking for.Stimulus reimbursement – if this is important to you, get in writing from your selected vendor that theywill meet the “meaningful use” criteria or that the vendor will pay you the amount you would have gotten fromthe federal government. Legal advice will put “teeth” in the promise.Template management – Since most systems are based on templates which specify the medical contentyou will see, it is imperative that you understand how the vendor’s template system works. Can you modifythe templates yourself? If not, can the vendor modify them? What does it take to do so?Pg 8 of 11
  • 9. Document management – If your practice has a lot of documents to handle, you will want to look closingat how well the various systems can handle both the scanning in of documents and the retrieval of documents.Patient education – if easy-to-print and up-to-date patient educational material is important to you, thevendor should be able to tell you where the material originates and how often it is updated.Prescription refill – As noted earlier, if this is important to you, bear down on this with the vendor. This issomething that you will live with every day. Make sure it is what you need.Ease of data entry and ease of access to H & P and notes – The more patients you see each day, themore important it will be to you that you are able to enter and retrieve the necessary information quickly andeasily.Voice recognition – You can save a ton on transcription costs if you currently do a lot of dictation. DragonMedical voice recognition software will work well with most EMRs. If this is important to you, ask thevendors to demo it to you.Interface with PMS, labs and imaging centers – See the discussion above regarding interfaces.Clinical decision support and evidence-based medicine – If you are ready to embrace theseconcepts in your EMR, get detailed information from the vendors. This can be a critical component of yoursoftware.Regulatory requirements that may be peculiar to your state – Do you need to print prescriptions onspecialized paper? Do you need to report child immunizations electronically to the state? Make sure youunderstand what these needs are and how the vendors propose to meet them. STEP SEVEN: BE IN CHARGE!!!! Your attitude and your willingness to take charge will determine whether your profits increase or decreaseduring and subsequent to your transition from paper to electronic charts. That does not mean you have to doeverything yourself. But remember – no one has a vested interest in this like you do. Don’t be afraid to ask aquestion if it comes to mind. Every question is important and needs to be answered fully and to yoursatisfaction.Let the vendors know what you expect to get out of this process. Your leadership will drive the process to aprofitable conclusion.Working with a consultant may be the key to “being in charge”. A consultant can document workflow andprocesses, help gather and analyze staff suggestions and comments, help establish the proper selection criteriaand facilitate communication with vendors to your advantage.Pg 9 of 11
  • 10. STEP EIGHT: SELECTING THE RIGHT SYSTEM Now that you have created a positive, forward looking attitude, have set goals and expectations properly, havegotten buy-in from your entire team, have documented your workflow and how an EMR may effect yourpractice, learned about the technology involved, determined the features that your practices needs and havemade a commitment to “be in charge”, you are ready to select a vendor.You should talk to five or six vendors (as a minimum) before you even start scheduling demonstrations. Howdo you select the vendors with which to talk? There are a number of places to start as follows: • Talk to peers (same specialty) that have an EMR already. Ask if they are willing to talk to you about their experience in some depth. Ask them to evaluate the system they are using. Ask if you can visit their office to see their system in action. Ask if you can talk with the office manager. Don’t just accept a quick response such as “Yeah, we like our system”. Get more details. • Check with your specialty/professional organization or medical society or association. Some of them have recommendations or forums where you can get information from others in your specialty. • Look for ads in your professional magazines and other publications. Look specifically for EMR vendors that state they serve your specialty. • If you attend a professional or specialty conference, ask around for recommendations. Talk to vendors that might be there as exhibitors. If a vendor is an exhibitor at a specialty conference, you can assume that they can handle the needs of that specialty. However, you will really want to put them to the test. • Do a Google search for your specialty plus EMR/EHR. For example, “Pediatrics EMR”.Once your list is complete, Google search the company name and look for blogs and forums where EMRs arediscussed. That may help balance all the positive things that vendors are saying about themselves on their ownwebsite.When you have done all of this, you are ready to contact the vendors. Check out their website. Then call andask to speak to a sales representative. Review your goals with them and the features you are interested inbefore you schedule a demo. Ask the tough questions now. Ask for the number of installations they have inyour specialty. Ask for references in the same specialty as yours.Now you can finally schedule a demo. Schedule the demos when you have plenty of time.Narrow your potential vendors down to the top three and ask them to come on-site. As part of the on-sitedemo, present them with scenarios or complaints based on what you see in your practice. Ask them how theywould handle those situations. As the demo is proceeding, keep a list of questions and/or concerns. Be surethat they are satisfactorily resolved before you make a decision.As a final step, you should consider an on-site visit to a practice that is similar to yours that is using thesystem(s) you are interested in.Pg 10 of 11
  • 11. FINAL THOUGHTS Hopefully, at this point, you feel comfortable that you have done everything you can to select the EMR thatwill be just right for your practice. Now you are ready for the contract. Look at the attached document fromthe AMA for guidance in some of the issues you should consider. Using an attorney may be helpful at thispoint. Better now than after the contract is signed and the system has been installed.This is an exciting time for your practice. Stay positive and stay focused. As with any software application,there will be glitches and rough spots. Those are part of the process. Work with your vendor in order to makethe product better - better for your practice, better for your patients and better for those that purchase the sameproduct after you._____________________________________________________________Pg 11 of 11

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