EHRs for solo and small physician practices

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:

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Workflow optimization

  • 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

Clinical outcomes

  • 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.

Tips for Improving EHR Usability (Part 2)

Continued from Tips for Improving EHR Usability (Part 1)

11. Limit open visits, stay focused

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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.

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Tips for Improving EHR Usability (Part 1)

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.

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1. Dashboard customization

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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)

Patient Portals: The First Step to Patient Engagement

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.

patient-portals-engagement

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.

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Switching EHR System – Top Ten Features to Look For

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.

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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.

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