Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and HIPAA for FREE!!

Improving Clinical Workflow Can Boost Health IT Quality

Posted on August 18, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

At this point, the great majority of providers have made very substantial investments in EMRs and ancillary systems. Now, many are struggling to squeeze the most value out of those investments, and they’re not sure how to attack the problem.

However, according to at least one piece of research, there’s a couple of approaches that are likely to pan out. According to a new survey by the American Society for Quality, most healthcare quality experts believe that improving clinical workflow and supporting patients online can make a big diference.

As ASQ noted, providers are spending massive amounts of case on IT, with the North American healthcare IT market forecast to hit $31.3 by 2017, up from $21.9 billion in 2012. But healthcare organizations are struggling to realize a return on their spending. The study data, however, suggests that providers may be able to make progress by looking at internal issues.

Researchers who conducted the survey, an online poll of about 170 ASQ members, said that 78% of respondents said improving workflow efficiency is the top way for healthcare organizations to improve the quality of their technology implementations. Meanwhile, 71% said that providers can strengthen their health IT use by nurturing strong leaders who champion new HIT initiatives.

Meanwhile, survey participants listed a handful of evolving health IT options which could have the most impact on patient experience and care coordination, including:

  • Incorporation of wearables, remote patient monitoring and caregiver collaboration tools (71%)
  • Leveraging smartphones, tablets and apps (69%)
  • Putting online tools in place that touch every step of patient processes like registration and payment (69%)

Despite their promise, there are a number of hurdles healthcare organizations must get over to implement new processes (such as better workflows) or new technologies. According to ASQ, these include:

  • Physician and staff resistance to change due to concerns about the impact on time and workflow, or unwillingness to learn new skills (70%)
  • High cost of rolling out IT infrastructure and services, and unproven ROI (64%)
  • Concerns that integrating complex new devices could lead to poor interfaces between multiple technologies, or that haphazard rollouts of new devices could cause patient errors (61%)

But if providers can get past these issues, there are several types of health IT that can boost ROI or cut cost, the ASQ respondents said. According to these participants, the following HIT tools can have the biggest impact:

  • Remote patient monitoring can cut down on the need for office visits, while improving patient outcomes (69%)
  • Patient engagement platforms that encourage patients to get more involved in the long-term management of their own health conditions (68%)
  • EMRs/EHRs that eliminate the need to perform some time-consuming tasks (68%)

Perhaps the most interesting part of the survey report outlined specific strategies to strengthen health IT use recommended by respondents, such as:

  • Embedding a quality expert in every department to learn use needs before deciding what IT tools to implement. This gives users a sense of investment in any changes made.
  • Improving available software with easier navigation, better organization of medical record types, more use of FTP servers for convenience, the ability to upload records to requesting facilities and a universal notification system offering updates on medical record status
  • Creating healthcare apps for professional use, such as medication calculators, med reconciliation tools and easy-to-use mobile apps which offer access to clinical pathways

Of course, most readers of this blog already know about these options, and if they’re not currently taking this advice they’re probably thinking about it. Heck, some of this should already be old hat – FTP servers? But it’s still good to be reminded that progress in boosting the value of health IT investments may be with reach. (To get some here-and-now advice on redesigning EMR workflow, check out this excellent piece by Chuck Webster – he gets it!)

Health IT Jobs Data Yields A Few Surprises

Posted on February 25, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

After taking a look at a pre-release copy of a new report chronicling trends in the healthcare IT staffing world (The full report will be released during HIMSS), I’ve realized that many of my assumptions about the health IT workforce are wrong.  The report, from specialist technology recruitment firm Greythorn, offers a useful look at just who makes up the healthcare IT workforce and how they prefer to work, but just as importantly, how health organizations are treating them.

To collect its data, the recruiting company surveyed 430 U.S. IT professionals over Q4 2015. Greythorn focused on factors that define the healthcare pro’s work experience, including the demographics of the HIT workforce, length of tenure, hours in a typical work week, career motivation and reward/bonus trends.

More than one item in the report surprised me. For example, despite last year’s ups and downs, 84% of respondents reported feeling optimistic or extremely optimistic about healthcare IT, up from 78% the previous year.

Also, some of the demographics data caught me off guard:

  • 59% of respondents were female, while only 41% were male. I couldn’t dig up a stat on the overall makeup of the US HIT workforce, but my best guess is that it’s still male-dominated. So this was of note.
  • Also, 52% of respondents were between 43 and 60 years old, though another 24% of respondents were 25 to 34 years old. On level it makes sense, as health IT work takes specialized expertise that doesn’t come overnight, but it bucks the general IT image as a haven for young hopefuls.
  • I was also surprised to learn that only 40% of respondents were employed full time,  On the other hand, given that consultants and contractors can earn 50% to 100% more than full-timers (Greythorn’s data), it’s actually a pretty logical development.
  • Greythorn found that 43% of respondents were working 41 to 45 per week, not bad for a demanding professional position. On the other hand, 21% report working 46 to 50 hours, and 10% more than 60 hours.

The report also served up some interesting data regarding HIT hiring and staff headcount:

  • 39% of respondents said that they expected to increase headcount, perhaps signalling a move away from implementing big projects largely with contractors. On the other hand, 24% reported that they expected to cut headcount, so I could be off base.
  • On the flip side, only 9% said that they expected to see significant headcount losses, with 33% asserting that headcount would probably remain the same.

When it came to technical specializations, the results were fairly predictable. When asked which EMR system they knew best:

  • 55% of respondents named Epic
  • 19% named Cerner
  • 5% named Meditech
  • 3% named Allscripts and McKesson
  • 14% cited “other”

Finally, given that many of the survey respondents seem to cluster at the high end of experience levels, I was intrigued to note the wide spread in salaries, which ranged from less than $50K per year to to more than $160K. Some of the most interesting numbers, included the following:

  • 20% reported earning $50K to $69,999
  • 21% were earning $100K to $119,999
  • 6% reported earning more than $160K

To my way of thinking, it doesn’t make sense that 53% of  health IT pros  — many of whom reported being fairly senior, were making less than $100K per year.

Sure, health organizations’ budgets are stretched thin. But skimping on IT pay is likely to have a negative impact on recruitment and retention. As we cruise into 2016, let’s keep an eye on this problem. I doubt junior- to mid-level salaries will attract the hard-core HIT veterans needed to transform health IT over the coming years.

Note: Healthcare Scene helped promote this survey and Greythorn pays to post its healthcare IT jobs to our healthcare IT job board.

EMRs and Patient Satisfaction

Posted on August 7, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

When it comes to keeping patients happy, EMRs matter, a new study suggests.

More patients are logging on to access their own records – and they tend to like it, according to data from research firms Aeffect and 88 Brand Partners. About 24 percent of patients have used EMRs for tasks such as checking test results, ordering medication refills and making appointments. And 78 percent of those patients reported being satisfied with their doctors, compared with 68 percent of those who hadn’t used EMRs.

“EMR users are telling us that they are more confident in the coordination of care they’re being provided, and think more highly of their doctors, simply because of the information technology in use,” Michael McGuire, director of strategy for Chicago-based 88 Brand Partners, said in a press release.

Patient satisfaction is fast becoming a top priority in health care as it determines a growing portion of providers’ reimbursement. So far, it’s mainly been an issue for hospitals. Their patient satisfaction survey results make up 30 percent of  their quality score in Medicare’s “value-based purchasing” program, part of the Affordable Care Act. In fiscal 2013, hospitals saw 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursement put at risk based on the overall score, which also considers performance on clinical measures. The figure will increase to 2 percent by fiscal 2017. Private insurers are also starting to link payments with quality scores.

The trend is now taking hold outpatient clinics, as well. About 2 percent of primary-care doctors’ compensation is tied to patient satisfaction measures, and the figure is likely to grow in coming years, according to a recent report from the Medical Group Management Association. Specialist physicians reported, on average, that 1 percent of their salary hinged on patient satisfaction.

Patients cited several reasons for preferring that their doctors use EMRs, according to the EMR Patient Impact Study from Aeffect and 88 Brand Partners. Among them were ease of access to information and the perceived clarity and thoroughness of communication that the records systems provide. And adoption rates could be set to go higher: 52 percent of survey respondents said they aren’t using an EMR yet, but would be interested in trying one. Only 18 percent said they had no interest.

A host of other factors, such as level of attention and ease of making appointments, also factored into patient satisfaction, according to the survey of 1,000 consumers. But for doctors who have implemented EMRs, getting their patients to log on might be a simple way to create a more loyal following. In many cases, according to the survey, EMR-using patients had adopted the technology after being encouraged by a physician.

EMR-Switching Physicians Demand Mobile EMR Apps

Posted on June 3, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

We already know that many physicians are considering dumping their current EMR, with up to one fifth telling research firm Black Book Rankings that they were considering a switch in 2013. Now,  Black Book says that it’s found a focus for the switch:  that physicians are looking for new EMRs to offer integrated mobile applications as front ends.

Seldom do you see as unanimous a decision as doctors seem to have made in this case. One hundred percent of practices responding to Black Book’s follow-up poll on EMR systems told the researchers that they expect vendors to allow access to patient data wherever physicians are providing or reviewing care, according to the firm’s managing partner Doug Brown.

Not surprisingly, vendors are responding to the upsurge in demand, which has certainly been building for a while. As part of the current survey, 122 vendors told Black Book that they plan to launch fully-functional mobile access and/or iPad-native versions of their EMR products by the end of this year, while another 135 say they have mobile apps on their near-term product roadmap.

Demand for core patient care functionality in mobile EMRs outpaces physicians’ interest in other types of mobile functionality by a considerable margin.

According to Black Book researchers, 8 percent of office-based physicians use a mobile device for electronic prescribing, accessing records, ordering tests or viewing result.  But 83 percent said they would jump on mobile EMR functions to update patient charts, check labs and order medications if their currrent EMR made them available.

When asked what  mobile EMR feature problems need to be addressed, current users of both virtualized and native iPad applications saw the same flaws as being the most important. Ninety-five percent of both groups said that the small screen of a smartphone was the biggest mobile EMR feature problem. Eighty-eight percent said difficulties with easy of movement within the chart was an issue, 83 percent said they wanted a simplified version of the EMR on their mobile screen and 71 percent wanted to see screens optimized for touch use.

For more info on EMR Switching check out this whitepaper called Making the Switch: Replacing Your EHR for More Money and More Control.

MU Stage 2, ICD-10 Delay, Epic-Related Safety Errors, and Mobile EMRs – Around HealthCare Scene

Posted on August 26, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

EMR Thoughts

Meaningful Use Stage 2 Final Rule Published

The long awaited MU Stage 2 final rule was published last week by CMS. No one will be required to follow the requirements until 2014, when the program is set to begin. The Stage 2 final rule is 672 pages long. The press release concerning MU Stage 2 mentions interesting facts, such as 3,300 hospitals have participated thus far.

ICD-10 Delay Finalized with New Unique Plan Identifier

In an announcement that was kind of lost in the midst of the meaningful use stage 2 final rule, the ICD-10 delay is official. As someone said on Twitter, you now have two years to get ready for ICD-10. You better get started now. The announcement of a Health Plan Identifier (HPID) is also very big news.

EMR and EHR

Nurses Raise Alarm Over Epic-Related Safety Errors

With any EMR, there is an adjustment period. However, there was an error recently at a prison clinic in California that could have been deadly that was related to the implementing of an Epic installation. Nurses have raised many concerns about the system, and have likely not been adequately trained. Is the issue with Epic because of the system, or because of inadequate training?

We Know What’s Right, but It’s Hard
Being healthy and overcoming illnesses takes works. And obviously, most of us know that if we don’t put in that effort, there will be negative consequences. Unfortunately, many people don’t put in that effort. Luckily, with the advent of being able to monitor health from home with smart phone apps and other gadgets, it is easier to do what we know is right. Is mHealth applications the answer to the question of how do we motivate ourselves to do what we know we should?

Happy EMR Doctor

Can We Talk? Challenges of SaaS Type EMR User Interfaces

SaaS EMR User Interfaces have a variety of challenges. The latest issue is ensuring that all the individual software work together in a way that doesn’t interrupt a practice’s workflow. This week, Dr. Michael West talks about how, when one component gets updated, it often causes others to work less efficiently. His office recently experienced this, and described the frustrating experience.

Smart Phone Health Care

Detecting Parkinson’s with a Phone Call

About 5 percent of adults over the age of 80 has Parkinson’s Disease. A new technology is being developed that supposedly can detect Parkinson’s Disease. And not only can it detect it, but with 98.6 percent overall accuracy. This raises the question, what can a smart phone not do? This is just the beginning of disease detection and treatment with smart phones. What’s next?

Five Health Communities Every Patient Should Use

It’s easier than ever to have a health problem. Okay, not really, but it’s easier to find support. There are many great communities online dedicated to helping patient’s find information about just about every health topic out there. Some offer free advice from medical professionals, and others implement social media. Here are five of the best communities everyone should join.

Hospital EMR and EHR

Survey: Virtually All Docs Want Mobile EMRs

9 out of 10 doctors want to be able to access their EMR on a mobile device, according to a recent study. It makes sense, since so many doctors are using iPads and smart phones nowadays. Luckily for these doctors, companies like Vitera and eClinicalWorks are working on mobile solutions for this. Hopefully these solutions will include things like reviewing and updating patient charts, and ordering prescriptions, which ranked among the top functions doctors are hoping a mobile EMR would include.

Meaningful Use Assistance Poll

Posted on November 23, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I almost forgot to post today. What can I say? I’ve had a crazy busy today. Lots of interest in advertising on EMR and HIPAA lately. So, we’ll keep it short and sweet. Here’s a poll that I posted on EMR and EHR also and originally took from HIStalk Practice about the resources people plan to use to achieve meaningful use. The early voting seems to indicate that EMR vendors better be prepared to help. We’ll see after EMR and HIPAA readers vote how that changes:

ARRA EHR Stimulus Money Poll Results

Posted on September 2, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

A few days ago, I posted a poll to try and gauge how readers of this site are approaching the billions of dollars in EHR stimulus money. It’s still early in the voting so if you haven’t voted already, go and share (anonymously) how your clinic is approaching the EHR stimulus money.

However, even this early it’s interesting to see the current results of the ARRA EHR Stimulus money poll which asks the question: How are you planning to approach the ARRA EHR stimulus money?
emr-stimulus-arra-ehr

I’ll admit that I’m surprised by how many people voted for the “EHR Stimulus… or Bust” option. Although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I posted that EMR is About the Money.

What’s even more interesting is that 72% of those that voted are planning or hoping to get the EHR stimulus money. Looks like $18 billion in EHR stimulus is stimulating something.

Average Medicare Allowable Charges Poll

Posted on July 9, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As I mentioned in my previous post on the ARRA EHR stimulus payments under Medicare, a clinic needs to have at least $24k in allowable charges in order to receive the full EMR stimulus money of $18k. This poll is an attempt to get an idea of if most doctors offices have over $24k in allowable charges or not. I imagine Obama and company looked at this number when planning for ARRA, but I haven’t seen any data on how many clinics will be eligible for the full $18k in EMR stimulus money.

Thanks for the input. I think it will also be interesting to see how many people respond that they don’t take Medicare either. I probably should also do something similar for Medicaid. I guess that’s a future post.

Plans for EMR Stimulus Money Poll

Posted on May 22, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I posted an EHR stimulus poll a week ago and I thought it would be interesting to post some preliminary results. I really wish a few more people would have participated in the poll. It’s only 2 clicks to add your opinion. I expect over time I’ll get some more responses.

Take a look at the current results for the question: How will your clinic be approaching the EMR Stimulus money made available in the HITECH Act (ARRA)?
EMR Stimulus Money Poll Results

What’s surprising to me from the results so far is that such a large percentage of people are either waiting to hear about the EHR stimulus money or are planning on the EHR stimulus money. This poll is a little bit biased since so many of the people visiting EMR and HIPAA these days are coming here to learn about the EHR stimulus money.

Like I’ve said before, there’s no doubt that the $18 billion investment by Obama into electronic health records has increased the interest in EHR software. We’ll have to just wait and see how much of this increased interest in EHR turns into actual EHR purchases.

EMR Stimulus Money Poll

Posted on May 14, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I decided to try out a few polls on EMR and HIPAA. I have a feeling they’ll be pretty popular and could provide some interesting insight into the world of EMR and EHR. If you have a poll, you’d like me to run, let me know in the comments and I’ll consider adding it. I don’t want to overrun this place with polls, but hopefully my readers will find them interesting as will I.

Here’s the first poll about people’s interesting in the ARRA/HITECH act EMR stimulus money:

I’m sure this poll could be improved, and it’s far from scientific. Nonetheless, I think the results could be really interesting.