The Meaningful Use program has emphasized the need for exchanging health information by using certified EHRs. Especially, the Meaningful Use stage 2 Transition of Care (TOC) measures which require 10% of referrals by eligible providers/hospitals to be sent electronically and providing a summary of care record for more than 50% of transitions of care and referrals.
In the current scenario, EHRs must be capable of communicating with other services and devices, not only to fulfill Meaningful Use criteria but to realize real benefits of this health care technology. To make it possible, SequelMed offers an EHR system which is capable of extending the reach and efficacy of health care providers and the system successfully integrates with a multitude of health care services.
Here are a few advantages of using a connected EHR system.
- EHR integration with an online patient portal, bridges the communication gaps between providers and the patients and facilitates sharing of PHRs.
- A virtual connection with the lab helps in sending lab orders and receiving lab reports and medical images, without any delay.
- An online connection with pharmacies enables users of SequelMed EHR to send electronically the prescriptions or renew/refill orders to the preferred pharmacy of the patients.
- Patient referrals and sharing health records to another physician is only possible if the EHR system is capable of exporting health data in a CCDA standard format and can transmit it to other networks.
- EHR connected mHealth apps improve patient care and increase patient loyalty
- The EHR system which can connect across networks and can integrate data from all sites are beneficial for the medical practices who have a presence in multiple locations and facilities.
- During emergencies and for the patients in critical condition, connected EHRs are highly beneficial because they can fetch in advance the patients’ health records and vital signs connecting with the ambulatory CPOE.
- The EHR systems connecting with web-based services bring to work the advanced communication protocols, such as, instant messaging, email and online fax services.
The EHR applications are spreading their wings and are ready to bring in advantages of a connected health care system, population health management and the benefits of health information exchange. It is moving towards m-Health where interoperability of health information would reach to mobile devices and patients and providers would have flexible access to health data round the clock.
Switching EHR vendor is not just a fad now; Black Book Rankings tags 2013 as the year of “the great EHR vendor switch” and they were right in saying it. Most of the physician practices and healthcare providers are switching their EHR vendor because they are not satisfied and EHR product has failed to meet their requirements or facing difficulty to meet the criteria set by the Meaningful Use incentive program.
Ironically, Meaningful Use program is cited as well for the rapid adoption of EHRs and now it has emerged as one of the main causes of disrupting the EHR implementation process. We reviewed this issue of ‘switching EHR vendors’ and pointed out factors causing it. For instance:
- Providers are not satisfied with the current EHR system
- Lack of vendor support
- Practice incompatibility with the EHR in use
- Meaningful Use is raising the bar day by day, adding new requirements which the EHR vendor is not able to incorporate
- There are conflicts in the integration or synchronization of the EHR software with other applications
The physician practices who switched their EHR vendor had one question in common. How an eligible professional (EP) would attest if switched to another certified EHR vendor in the middle of the Meaningful Use program year?
Apprehending the situation CMS came up with the answer:
If an EP, eligible hospital or CAH switches from one certified EHR vendor to another during the program year, the data collected for the selected menu objectives and quality measures should be combined from both of the EHR systems for attestation. The count of unique patients does not need to be reconciled when combining from the two EHR systems.
If the menu objectives and/or clinical quality measures used are also being changed when switching vendors, the menu objectives and/or quality measures collected from the EHR system that was used for the majority of the program year should be reported.
Why switching to SequelMed is a win-win deal?
SequelMed is a viable health IT vendor, trusted by physician practices since 1995. Over the years, the company has developed and offered a range of health care IT products which integrate with each other and provide a complete solution to all the needs of the providers.
- SequelMed suite of health IT products include EMR, EHR, Practice Management, Patient Portal, e-Prescribe and e-Link.
- For years now, SequelMed has been providing medical billing and coding services to billing companies and providers; a value adding expertise which plays an important role in optimizing ROI.
- The company extends its support through assistance in the implementation phase and follows with comprehensive training sessions.
- SequelMed EHR is an ONC-ATCB certified solution that meets all the requirements of Meaningful Use criteria.
- SequelMed EHR meets HL7 protocols for health information exchange and is HIPAA 5010 compliant.
- Switching to SequelMed is ideal for health care providers who want complete automation of clinical workflows, ranging from scheduling to billing and want the easiest path to Meaningful Use incentives.
Solo physicians and small practice groups are increasingly adopting Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems and the adoption rate has never been this steep. EHR systems improve the efficacy of a practice which can manage a variety of clinical tasks with fewer resources. Such as, maintaining the health records in paper form requires someone dedicated to the task, whereas, electronic version of health records can be solely managed by the physician. Similarly, a certified EHR system is capable of virtually connecting labs, pharmacies and the patients with the physician practice, resulting in a reduced spending on communication and also a decrease in the running expense of an office. The Meaningful Use incentive program has also attracted small physician practices and solo physicians to adopt the EHR systems, who were initially reluctant due to the difficulties in managing the costs of the system.
Although Meaningful Use program has incentivized the EHR adoption and is one of the major contributing factors for the rapid acceptance of the EHR systems in a few years, however, the realization of its benefits is also an important factor in pivoting the way for adoption. Small physician practices have reported improved productivity starting from the first thirty days of the EHR implementation and startling improvements in the workflow and soaring profits. Some of the benefits realized after the EHR system implementation are:
- Better communication within the practice and with the patients
- Integrated workflow
- Quick access to health records
- Efficient time scheduling
- Low claim denials
- Better control over bills and payments
- Reduced medication errors
- Enhanced patient care
- Better assessments through decision support system
- Improved patient satisfaction and loyalty
Over the years, SequelMed has earned the trust of physician practices and has always been a step ahead in offering state-of-the-art health IT solutions to its clients. It has been a couple of decades now that our integrated line of practice management tools, healthcare IT solutions, business services, and technical support is catering to the needs of physician practices, health organizations, hospitals, and billing companies. Due to our extensive support and professional relationship building, our customers have become lifetime partners.
Our solutions have been rated high and have been recommended as the best choice for small practices who need better control of clinical workflow with easy to use health IT solutions.
Read the buzz and testimonials from physician practices about SequelMed products.
Continued from Tips for Improving EHR Usability (Part 1)
11. Limit open visits, stay focused
It’s never easy to handle multitasks and managing time. The smartest way to save time is ‘staying focused’. Opening up many windows in an EHR system or pulling up health records for more than two or three patients would only divert your attention.
12. Complete, accurate, and well-documented records
Before moving on to the next visiting patient, properly close the visit for the previous one. It includes: completing physician notes, follow up procedures and sending the patient a summary of the visit. The incomplete closing down on an open visit would only make the tasks pending and piled up.
13. Define roles and assign tasks
Clearly define roles and responsibility of tasks and discourage trespassing. EHR systems are capable of incorporating information from various sources and locations, it should not mean that anyone can tamper with the information. It all begins with a well maintained roster and job description.
14. Quick view through patient charts
Patient chart is a very helpful tool of EHR systems. Patient chart instantly provides a bird’s eye view of the patient’s history, problem list, vital signs and details about allergies. By using this handy tool, EHR users can save time and optimize productivity.
15. Overcome the communication barriers
For some physicians, entering notes in an EHR system through the typing keyboard might be slower than writing. Similarly, at initial stages of EHR adoption, patients might complain of less attention given to them because of the physician’s overindulgence with the computer screen. To negate this impression, tell the patients about what you are doing and communicate in a conversational tone while looking into their eyes.
16. Consult the EHR vendor support when something malfuntions
If you want a feature, let the developers of the system know about your requirements. Do not waste time in figuring out solution to an IT problem or an error which is wasting your working hours. Consult the support team instantly and let them figure out while you carry on with routine operations.
17. Prioritize tasks, stick to the timings and leave logical gaps
7 Smart ways to keep pace with the patient appointment schedule. Get things done as scheduled, otherwise, a time lag in the early hours of work would trail you throughout the day. Keep appointment slots aptly booked and leave logical gaps in between to manage surplus time.
18. Engage patients by showing and explaining test reports
Do not pose EHR as a third agent coming between you and the patient, let the patient have the view on screen in necessary instances. It is better to explain by showing (x-ray, MRI reports). Engaging patients would encourage becoming part of the process rather than a subject to the process. Read more on patient engagement
19. Learn to use keyboard shortcuts and commands
Learn to use keyboard shortcuts and populate on the toolbar of the EHR application with the most commonly used tools.
20. Meaningful Use of EHR
The Meaningful Use incentive program has been designed to obligate users of certified EHR systems to follow standard procedures in documenting the health records. It is a set of standard practices which definitely enhances the usability of an EHR system.
An EHR system should best come up with the word ‘solution’, embedded with enhanced functionalities which can guide in the complexity of clinical procedures. Only digitizing the health records and serving as a computerized autotype of the clinical tasks, previously performed on papers, is not the end, unless, the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system betters the workflow and make the electronic version of health records used for advanced manipulation.
1. Dashboard customization
Follow a way which requires fewer clicks with the mouse and consumes less time. Place icons or shortcuts of the most frequently used modules on dashboard according to your workflow and make sure that you got central access to all the modules; and they are easy to navigate and accessible.
2. Trainings resources and improving their skill levels
An EHR system works coherently over the network taking feeds from different departments. All the users of the system should be at equal level of skill. Otherwise, a mistake by one would spoil right moves of all others. Decide a workflow for your practice and train every staff member to follow the steps. Identify barriers to learning and remove it through training, guiding solutions and mutual discussions.
3. Use the system objectively
To increase the effectiveness of an EHR system, do realize its core capabilities. For instance, summary view can provide a quick insight necessary for perception and diagnosis, saving time and increasing understanding. Such as, electronic messaging is more effective than any other communication solution when interacting within the organization and out with the patients. Utilize embedded email and faxing features, rather than accessing them separately on independent platforms.
4. Consistency of practice and harmony with user experience
Don’t be overwhelmed by the newness of procedures, it would take time, switching from a paper-based practice to a complete automation. One should expect a steady improvement rather than speculating barriers in learning. It is better to get the EHR system and all the supporting services from the same vendor and software platform; it will bring unanimity in user experience.
5. Define specialty templates and use them smartly
A majority of EHR systems today come with libraries of specialty templates custom designed for the specific specialty. These predefined templates save time, standardize practice and leave less margin for errors. Get benefited from this pool of useful templates and soon you would get acquainted with the most commonly used.
6. Use the interface intuitively
Acclimatize yourself, as early as possible, with the menus and their hierarchical entries. Along with symbols and icons, use keyboard shortcuts and drag-and-drop options which would make the use simple and natural. View demos of the application to understand predisposed techniques from end to end. The predictability of a software behavior comes with the mastery over the set of repeated practice.
7. Shadow decision support system
Decision support system in an EHR application is helpful in reaching the right decisions and alerting if any malpractice found, such as, drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction alerts.
8. Manage the sensitivity level of errors and alerts
Alert fatigue can urge you to close the windows without paying attention to the message, and you override them especially when messages are repetitive and make no sense with the current process. Work it out with the support team and keep the alert level controlled, helping the user sustaining the conscious level design busy hours.
9. Utilize integrated services and web-based tools
Do not hesitate to use web-based integrated tools, such as, online pharmacies, patient portal etc. because EHR systems are designed to work side by side with the web based tools which enhance the efficacy of a user.
10. Respondent to a task alert at the moment it appears
When alerts from the scheduler, patient messages and many other pop-ups swarm the screen (Which happens usually at the first login of the day0, do not procrastinate and leave the tasks to be handled later. Respond it right at the moment because with the every passing hour you would get busy and the pending tasks would remain in limbo.
Continued on Tips for Improving EHR Usability (Part 2)
Engaging your patients in their care process and in the management of records is not only the Meaningful Use incentive program requirement but also is the need of the time. More than ever, patients want to access their health records online and perform some basic tasks connecting with the care provider through internet.
40% patients want to get appointment reminders through the internet, 29% of the surveyed patients want treatment reminders through the web connection, according to a survey report conducted by InsightExpress. The report further details about the services patients find valuable if offered via internet, i.e.
Source: Cisco customer experience report for health care
Ironically, Patient Portals are offering more than that what health consumers are engaged in now. See complete list of SequelMed Patient Portal features or Read relevant articles on the topic of Patient Portal
According to the statistics retrieved from Health Tracking Survey shows, 41 percent of 1,745 surveyed patients who used internet for reading reviews about a medical provider. It all shows a passive behavior from the patients’ side who are only interested in accessing health information and less engaged in contributing their part. Apprehending the situation, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) took a number of initiatives, such as, Consumer eHealth Program and Blue Button initiative and outlined a Patient Engagement Framework.
These initiatives aimed at enticing active participation of the patients in the care process. The plan is simple; physicians are expected to share patients’ health records through an integrated EHR system and a Patient Portal. At the basic level, the tasks which the patients and providers should collaborate are: managing appointment schedules provide clinical summaries, reminders for follow-up care and exchanging relevant educational material with patients through online portals. Moreover, patients can view, download and transmit their health records.
The advanced tasking includes: online payments, specialty referral, e-visit consultation and prescription renewal / refills. To achieve this level of patient engagement, an integrated Patient Portal is the first step which would ultimately lead to responsive health consumers and shared decision making.
According to recent findings by Black Book Rankings which surveyed 17000 physicians and other EHR users across the United States, seventeen percent of the surveyed EHR users have plans to switch EHR vendors in 2013, 6% want to change but have no time frame, and 8% would like to alter their courses but can’t afford to do so.
Majority of the physicians and other EHR users are changing their current EHR systems because it is not fulfilling their requirements. In most of the cases the EHR system is lacking required features and functionality which providers need according to their specialty and unique needs.
In a survey conducted by Black Book Rankings, the top ten criteria and “must haves” features which the physicians are expecting in an EHR system in 2013, beyond basic EHR functionality, are as under.
- 84% physicians are concerned about vendor viability. They want sustainable support and a long term partnership. So, the vendor should be financially and strategically stable and should have a long presence in the market.
- 83% require provider data integration and network data sharing features
- 78% said that EHR should improve clinical workflow and demonstrate return on investment
- 75% require mHealth features, such as, mobile device connectivity
- 66% HIE support, connectivity/interoperability
- 65% Perfected interfaces with lab, pharmacy, radiology, rehabilitation, post-acute care
- 65% Perfected interfaces with medical billing partners/outsourcers and revenue cycle
- 59% System financing assistance
- 58% require an integrated Patient Portal
(Find complete list at Black Book Rankings press release)
Our unique position
A few days back, we explained to our valued readers and clients through self-analysis and market comparison of what makes SequelMed stand out from the crowd?
SequelMed is a viable EHR vendor, serving health professionals since 1995. It was off to a good start, simplifying workflow of physician practices through practice management tools and medical billing solutions. Then, we developed a point-of-care Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system for clinicians which is a user-friendly, efficient, high quality software solution helping to improve clinical workflow and ensuring highest return on investment. Moreover, SequelMed EHR is a fully integrated electronic health records solution that meets all the requirements of Meaningful Use criteria and is fully compliant with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. It is a feature rich tool specifically designed for physician practices, demonstrating an easy to use interface; lab, pharmacy and patient portal integration. It is an ideal solution for clinicians who want complete automation of clinical workflow ranging from scheduling to billing and decision support during the care process.
Review based on SequelMed EHR users’ experiences
“Productivity is basically a measure of the effectiveness and efficiency of your organization in generating output with the resources available.” (A guide to productivity measurement by Spring)
In simple, Productivity = Output/Input
Today, productivity for physicians and medical providers is measured on the basis of patient visits managed per working day and the revenue generated for the practice group. The formula is simple; more patient visits handled, more revenue would flow in. To get maximum output and to expedite the workflow of providers, health organizations are heavily investing in technologies and health IT systems. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is one such health IT tool which promises reduced cost, enhanced efficiency and maximum on investments.
EHR user workflow
The SequelMed EHR system has been designed with the deep understanding of physician’s workflow. It has leveraged flexibility and ease of access in many ways. The care process starts as soon as the patient registers and gets an appointment. Then Patient’s medical history, medication and demographic information appears on to the doctor’s screen in the EHR system for initial brooding. These electronic health records are accessible instantly by entering a medical record number of the patient into the system. The doctor checks patient’s insurance plan and eligibility, provides services, electronically sends lab orders and prescription. Then the medical coding and billing process starts which is also automated and integrated with the EHR system. The medical bills are submitted electronically and the system automatically updates the follow-ups.
According to a new research “The Rise of Electronic Health Record Adoption among Family Physicians“, adoption of EHRs by family physicians has doubled since 2005, and is likely to surpass 80% in 2013. Although Meaningful Use incentive program is serving as the catalyst for the augmented interest in implementing EHRs but its valuable role in the betterment of patient care and positive impacts on physician productivity are also fueling the rapid adoption.
A recent 2013 HIMSS Leadership Survey indicates improvement in quality of care achieved through the positive role of health IT. The areas of impact are:
- Improving quality outcomes
- Reducing medical errors
- Standardizing clinical care
- Improving Support staff productivity
- Sharing information externally
- Enabling remote access of data
- Providing competitive advantage
- Remote monitoring of patients
- Improving patient access to information
- Ensuring that data is secure/private
Hence, Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems are positively influencing the physicians’ productivity. The providers who adopted the electronic systems earlier and automated their workflow, are reporting maximum returns on their input, improved staff productivity and value addition in the services they provide.
The medical billing cycle starts as early as the patients register with a provider and demographic details and insurance plan information are entered. Then it moves to eligibility process, entering billing codes for the services, payment follow-ups and posting the payment details.
However, critical leaks coming in the way of this billing cycle can severely affect the revenue of the providers. To complete this billing cycle productively, it is important to scrutinize all the stages, identification of gaps and leaks, setting up of revenue goals and deciding a strategy to achieve it.
Here are a few steps to streamline the medical billing cycle:
Review the current workflow
Before starting to restructure the billing workflow, evaluate current work practices, only then it’s possible to identify loopholes in the system. Gauge the competency of the billing staff and their understanding of the recent updates in coding and billing. Analyze the supporting IT infrastructure and software tools and look for required upgrades.
Identify the revenue leaks
Payment denials and poor follow-ups can be classified as the two major reasons for revenue loss. Calculate clean claims and denied claims ratio, dig deeper and bring out the reasons for payment denials. Similarly, jot down clearly the major causes of payment denials and what can be done to avert the objections from the payers.
Integrate billing processes and automate
Integrated practice management system or electronic medical record system combined with computer based coding and billing tools bring accuracy to the processes. Patients’ health records available at a centralized database provide better context to billing staff. To expedite the billing process, automation of the system is a must.
Managing billing resources
The staff responsible for billing should be trained and proficient in the latest changes and upgrades. For instance, any changes in HIPAA electronic transaction standards or upgrade in coding version could cause disruption in the payment process. Therefore, make sure that the system and the staff are up-to-date.
Improvements at the backend billing processes
Accurate coding and submission of clean claims to the insurance carrier covers only half of the billing cycle. The current billing system requires a consistent two-way flow of communication between the provider and the payer. The payment capture, A/R follow-ups, posting payments received, providing the required documents and appealing for denied claims are some of the back end billing chores, fine-tuning which bring positive results.
Reporting gross revenue
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, said a management consultant. It is important to set achievable performance indicators, plan a strategy and then compile weekly, monthly or annual performance reports. If these reports are supported with statistical comparisons from the previous financial reports and elaborated in graphs and charts, it helps to analyze and identify glitches in the cycle.