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Are Providers Using Effective Patient Communication Methods?

Posted on December 1, 2016 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Cristina Dafonte, Marketing Associate of Stericycle Communication Solutions as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter:@StericycleComms
cristina-dafonte
This year at MGMA 2016, the Stericycle Communication Solutions team had the opportunity to survey over 800 providers about their patient communication strategy. Getting to collect our own data, rather than relying on facts and figures from scholarly articles, was truly invaluable. But what was even more exciting was sitting down and analyzing the results.

Many of the statistics weren’t surprising – nearly 100% of providers are sending appointment reminders, 60% of providers are using technology to send these reminders, and 2/3 of providers surveyed love the idea of online self-scheduling. These statistics all made sense to me… it’s almost 2017, of course providers would prefer to use technology when it comes to their patient communications.

But as I dug more into the numbers, I saw a startling trend:

  • Only 1 out of 3 providers who “love” online self-scheduling offer it to their patients
  • While almost all providers are sending appointment reminders, 1/3 are still manually calling their patients
  • Over 60% of providers are only sending appointment reminders via ONE modality

I started to think about other parts of my life where I booked appointments or used technology to interact with a vendor– did these healthcare numbers match their non-healthcare counterparts?

First I looked to my hair salon. When I go to their website, I have the ability to book an appointment with my current hair dresser directly on their home screen. I get an email reminder the day that I book the appointment with a calendar attachment. The day before the appointment, I get a text reminding me what time my appointment is and whom it is with. Four months after the appointment, I get an email reminding me that it’s time to come in for my next appointment… with a link to book an appointment online. Surprisingly, this didn’t match what I was seeing in my survey data analysis. When I looked at scheduling an appointment to get my car serviced, I saw the same trend – booking was conveniently online, the communications were all automated, and I received more than one reminder.

So why does there seem to be such a difference when it comes to healthcare communication? Our survey shows that providers like the idea of technology, so, I wonder, why are most providers only going halfway? What is it that is holding them back from fully investing in automated patient communications? According to TIME, the average person looks at his or her phone 46 times per day. As we near 2017, shouldn’t we reach and capture patients where they are engaged and spend most of their time – on their mobile devices and computers?

For more MGMA survey results and a sneak peak into how Stericycle Communication Solutions can help you adopt an automated patient communication strategy, download the infographic here.

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality call center & telephone answering servicespatient access services and automated communication technology. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media:  @StericycleComms

Insightful Tweets from Farzad Mostashari’s Session at #MGMA15

Posted on October 13, 2015 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.

Today, Farzad Mostashari took the stage at the MGMA Annual Conference. As a man that I respect and someone that has deep connections and insights into what’s happening in Washington and how that plays out in actual practice (thanks to his ACO company), I was interested in the insights he’d share.

Here’s a quick Twitter roundup of some of the insights he shared:

Major Theme from MGMA 2015: Collaboration

Posted on October 12, 2015 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.

MGMA’s annual conference has just started, but I’m already starting to see what I think is a major theme at the event: Collaboration. To say it a different way, I think the theme is:

We Can’t Solve These Problems Alone!!

That’s a message that we need to resonate across all of healthcare. Atul Gawande’s keynote this morning did a great job highlighting this need along with the MGMA Presidents comments yesterday. He talked about how much more efficient an organization can be if everyone is rowing together. Although, I think his comment that struck me most was when he said that just scheduling the time for various people to get together and talk about how they can work together is the first step.

Far too often we get overly prescriptive on what we need healthcare organizations to do. When you do that it’s really easy for an organization to rationalize why their organization’s needs are different and why the prescriptive advice doesn’t work for their organizations. I guess that’s what made Atul’s advice to powerful. It’s really about getting the disparate parties together to talk about ways they can collaborate. They’ll figure it out. They know what will and won’t work, but they’ve just never really sat down to work on the challenges together.

The only other thing I’d add to this advice is to make sure that there are some common goals. A great example of this is seen in how hospitals have come together around hospital readmissions. That common goal has produced results. Atul suggested that a common goal might be focusing on improving care to the 5% of patients who drive 50% of the healthcare costs. He also suggested considering goals like improving patient wait times that will improve the experience for all patients as opposed to just a few patients.

Having everyone involved in a healthcare organization meeting together often to talk about how they can solve common goals is a magical formula.

#MGMA15 Tweetup and Hosting This Week’s #KareoChat

Posted on October 7, 2015 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.

The busy fall conference season is upon us and the fun begins. Honestly, I love traveling to all of these events (other than that part about leaving my family). I seriously feel lucky to take part in so many amazing healthcare IT and EHR related events. I know that some people see them as work, but they are all learning and fun for me. I guess I’m weird like that.

MGMA 2015
Next up on my calendar is MGMA this weekend. MGMA 2015 is in Nashville which is exciting for me since I’ve never been to Nashville. I hear that Nashville is chock full of great healthcare IT companies. My schedule is already jam packed with meetings. I’m also excited to see what practice managers are going to say about the current state of healthcare. I’ll be evaluating them for EHR PTSD (Although maybe it will all be ICD-10 PTSD).

If you’re going to be at #MGMA15 or live in Nashville, the good people at Stericycle have put together a tweetup on Monday, October 12th from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM at the Fuse Sports Club inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Covention Center. You can find all the details for the tweetup and RSVP here. Everyone’s welcome to attend the tweetup whether they’re attending MGMA 2015 or not. I hope to see many of you there.

Hosting the #KareoChat
Kareo Chat Hosting by John Lynn
I’ll be once again hosting this week’s #KareoChat where we’ll be discussing Ways to Grow and Market Your Practice. The chat happens every Thursday at 9 AM PT (Noon ET). I hope you’ll be able to join us tomorrow. Here’s the 6 questions we’ll be discussing:

  1. What are the most effective ways to market your practice today?
  2. Which new opportunities are you watching that you believe will eventually help grow your practice?
  3. What tools or technologies do you use to help grow and market your practice?
  4. How do you engage your existing patients in your marketing efforts?
  5. What sources do you look to to stay up to date on the latest marketing practices?
  6. In what ways can small practices compete against large health system competitors when marketing their practices?

This topic is becoming more and more important to small practices who are trying to figure out how to survive. I hope you’ll all join me on the Twitter chat and share your insights into the topic.

Full Disclosure: Kareo is an advertiser on Healthcare Scene.

3 Macro Health Payment Trends to Watch

Posted on June 5, 2014 I Written By

The following is a guest post by Barry Haitoff, CEO of Medical Management Corporation of America.
Barry Haitoff
It’s not a stretch to say that the healthcare payment system has hit some tumultuous waters. Medical billing hasn’t been easy for a long time, but with things like the Affordable Care Act, Value Based Reimbursement, and the shifting world of data driven healthcare there is a lot you need to watch out for when it comes to getting paid. What does seem clear is that medical billing is not going to get any easier.

Let’s take a look at three broad health payment trends worth keeping your eye on:

Increased Patient Pay
One of the major trends in the health insurance industry is the move towards high deductible plans. Some of this change is coming from employers changing their plans and the ACA insurance exchanges are driving this trend as well. I see this shift continuing as healthcare and employers work to make the patient more accountable for their healthcare.

There are two main things you need to do to prepare for these high deductible plans. First, make sure you have a solid method in place to know how much the patient owes before or immediately after the visit. There is no better way to reduce patient collections than to collect the payment while the patient is in the office. Many are ready and willing to pay, but some practices don’t have the systems that allow them to know how much to charge the patient before they leave. Second, look at your processes for collecting patient payments once they’ve left the building. Do you have a good strategy in place to make sure the patient knows how much they owe? Do you have a variety of simple ways for the patient to make the payment? The use of an online payment portal for patients is the most obvious way to make submitting payment to physicians simple for patients. If you solve these two problems you’ll go a long way to improving your patient collections.

Higher deductible plans are here to stay and so an investment in systems that address the patient responsibility portion of the visit are incredibly important.

Data Driven Reimbursement
With the increased adoption of EHR software, you can be sure that insurance plans are going to want more and more data to justify your reimbursement. This is not a new trend for insurance companies. They’ve been requiring more and more documentation to justify payments forever. However, we’re at the point where what they’ll require will be so complex that you better have your documentation ducks in a row.

Certainly this means that if you don’t have an EHR or other technology infrastructure you will likely have issues. This will become particularly poignant as payers start to pay based on population health and value as opposed to the current fee for service model. I literally can’t see how insurance companies could switch to value based payments in a non healthcare IT world. The data in these systems is going to drive future reimbursement.

Newly Insured
Offices around the country are starting to see a set of newly insured patients thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare if you prefer). Are your office staff prepared for these new patients? While millions of uninsured patients are getting insurance and visiting your clinic, offices are also seeing many of their existing patients switching from a previous insurance to an ACA plan. Does your staff have the time required to update records? Not to mention, are you accounting for the extra time spent doing eligibility checks for these new insurance plans?

A MGMA survey of mostly independent physician practices recently found that 62 percent of practices are struggling to identify patients whose insurance came from the ACA exchange and to verify their eligibility or obtain plan details. Most practices also say that patients who got their insurance via an ACA exchange are more likely to have high deductibles and don’t understand that fact. Half of the practices say they can’t provide services to ACA exchange patients because their practice is out of network.

Can you see the potential problems to your practice? What will this new patient population act like when it comes to paying you for your services? Certainly a shift by existing patients to new high deductible plans will cause issues like increased patient responsibility that we talked about above. However, the newly insured population is being shifted from the ER to your offices. If you consider the history of ER payments by patients, there’s reason to be concerned about how well this new patient population will do at paying their portion of the bill.

Plus, we’ve seen many practices that are finding it really difficult to determine their participation status with the payer. It seems that payers have cherry picked providers for their new narrow exchange networks and haven’t informed providers of whether they’re in or out. Once you finally do determine you par status, be sure your staff can recognize the new insurance cards so they can flag them or potentially turn them away if the provider isn’t par.

These are just a few of the major healthcare payment trends I see happening in the industry. I’d love to hear in the comments what trends you see happening in your offices. What other things should we be aware of in this constantly shifting healthcare payment world?

Medical Management Corporation of America, a leading provider of medical billing services, is a proud sponsor of EMR and HIPAA.

Digital Health Conference in NYC

Posted on September 5, 2013 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.

dhc_2013_header_580px
As most of you know, I’ve been working with the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) for the past couple years on their Digital Health Conference. They buy some advertising on my websites, and I get the chance to attend an amazing event. I love this event, because NYeC has a great connection with the local community of doctors and hospitals and so the event is chalk full of those working in the trenches of healthcare. I expect this year to be no different.

The good news is that once again they’ve given readers of my websites a 20% registration discount. Just use the code HCS when registering at www.DigitalHealthConference.com.

They’ve lined up two keynote speakers for the event: George C. Halvorson, Chairman, Kaiser Permanente and Jim Messina, National Director, Organizing for Action; Campaign Manager, 2012 Obama Re-Election Campaign; Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama. I like the mix of someone deeply rooted in healthcare and also someone who likely understands healthcare politics really well.

Along with the keynotes, I’m told they are looking at about 1200 attendees at the event. They’ve also published the full agenda of speakers. I look forward to seeing many of my readers at the event.

Along with the Digital Health Conference, I’ll be attending a number of other Healthcare IT conferences this year. Influential Networks has created a calendar of Fall health IT events where you’ll find myself and other influencers. Right now I have MGMA, CHIME, Healthcare Payments Processing & Compliance Summit, AHIMA, and the Digital Health Conference on my dance card. I may add mHealth Summit as well. Should make for an exciting fall conference season.

Let me know if you’ll be at any of these conferences. I always love to connect with readers in person.

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.

Dymo Prescription Printer – DYMO LabelWriter 4XL

Posted on November 9, 2011 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 always love when people talk about the paperless medical office. It’s as if they believe that after implementing an EMR they will no longer have to have paper in the office. Turns out, EMR software can print out a lot of paper if you’re not careful.

While ePrescribing is on the horizon in many places, the harsh reality is that many still have to print out prescriptions. Add in the requirements around prescribing controlled substances and in almost every state doctors using an EMR are still having to print out prescriptions.

In my clinic, it always felt wrong to print out an entire sheet of paper for one prescription. Eventually we got our vendor to support printing out multiple prescriptions on one sheet of paper. That helped, but many patients only need one prescription so that’s a lot of wasted paper. Beyond the green movement, wasted paper = wasted money.

With this background, that’s why I was intrigued by the DYMO Prescription Printer that I saw at MGMA. I’d worked with DYMO label printers before since the lab I worked with printed off lab labels directly from our EMR software. It makes sense that they could use a little bit larger printer and do the same thing with prescriptions.

It’s pretty obvious to see the paper saving benefits of using a DYMO printer like this, but I think the other advantage to this printer is its size. The printer has such a small footprint that you could easily put it a lot of places that a standard printer just won’t fit.

I admit that I haven’t done a full analysis of the savings using this printer compared with a standard printer. However, the nice thing about the DYMO printers is that they’re thermal printers which means that you’ll never have to spend money on ink or toner to print prescriptions. That’s pretty nice.

I’d love to have some of my readers try out the DYMO Prescription Printer to let me know what they think and whether they think I should add it to my list of EMR related technology products. Maybe I should see if DYMO will give one away to one of my readers to try out and report back.

I always love when small adjustments to current technology can make a huge difference. Or in other words, did I just write a post about a label printer? Sometimes the best innovations are subtle changes.

Meaningful Use Attestation Issues for EHR Companies

Posted on October 26, 2011 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.

Many of you have probably read about the problems that GE Centricity EHR software had with a few of the meaningful use guidelines. If you haven’t read about it, go and check out that link to read Priya Ramachandran’s post about what happened. Plus, you can read a GE representative’s additional comments and clarifications. I actually had the chance to talk with GE in person at MGMA about these issues. While there’s no doubt that GE is taking heat for these problems (and they should), I personally believe it just highlights a bunch of possible problems with meaningful use attestation and raises a lot of unanswered questions.

My first premise is this, “If a large EHR vendor that’s intimately involved in the meaningful use rule creation process can mess up some of the meaningful use guidelines, how many other EHR vendors are going to do the same?”

This is a serious issue. Imagine you’re using an EHR software that runs into this problem. How quickly will that EHR vendor respond? Will they even know that they have an issue with meaningful use attestation before it’s too late? At least GE caught it early and can now address the issue for all of their doctors that are affected and get their EHR stimulus money. Even if they don’t get it resolved this year (which wouldn’t be a good outcome), then they do have next year which pays the same amount of money.

I’m not sure the same outcome will occur for some doctor who instead of proactively realizing a meaningful use attestation mistake gets “caught” with some mistake in some sort of meaningful use attestation audit. I guess we’ll see how those play out, but I imagine it won’t be as pleasant for MU attestation issues to be caught in an audit.

Plus, I think there’s very little doubt that there are other EHR companies which haven’t implemented the meaningful use attestation requirements quite right. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we hear of more issues. In fact, I have a feeling that EHR vendors that are reading this post are ready to forward it to their meaningful use expert/development staff to evaluate if they’re at risk for such a problem. The answer is that many EHR vendors likely are at risk. I imagine part of the risk is due to laziness in implementing the meaningful use guidelines (I guess they haven’t been reading our Meaningful Use Monday series), but the other part is that it’s not like meaningful use is that simple. It’s not quite the tax code, but it’s not always that straightforward.

This incident does bring up a whole new set of questions for CMS to answer. For example, what happens if a doctor attests to meaningful use and then realizes that for some reason (their fault, their EHR vendor’s fault or some other situation) they actually didn’t meet the meaningful use guidelines as required? Do they need to show another 90 days of meaningful use? Do they need to return their EHR stimulus check? Will CMS take the money back out of future payments? Can a physician go back and fix any mistakes that were made (this will likely depend on what went wrong)?

I’ll be keeping an eye on this discussion and we’ll do our best to post what GE and others learn from CMS when it comes to mistakes in meaningful use attestation. I have a feeling this could get a little messy. Based on my own experience with CMS in the past, I have a feeling they’re going to be as lenient as they possibly can be. However, they’re still going to have to follow whatever legal guidelines they’ve been given.

One other question that still makes me wonder is why didn’t the CCHIT EHR certification catch this mistake too? This would obviously require a pretty good dive into the EHR certification guidelines and the implementation of these guidelines. To me it highlights how little value the EHR certification process adds to the EHR market.

I have a feeling that this post has people like Dr. West enjoying their Meaningful Use Freedom even more.

New Fujitsu Smart Scanner Combined with CDA Clinical Document Standard Make for Interesting HIE

Posted on October 24, 2011 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.

Today at MGMA, Fujitsu together with Osmosyz announced a new scanner that supports the relatively new CDA “Unstructured Document” HL7 standard at MGMA 2011. I must admit that the press release is a little intense. However, I find what they’re doing with a hardware product to support HIE is quite interesting.

I don’t want the title of this post to be misleading. While certainly HIE has generally become synonymous with some large health information exchange entity, in this case I’m describing a hardware device (a smart scanner if you will) that acts as a small health information exchange. Basically, it’s more along the lines of Direct Project as opposed to NHIN. Although, I imagine that it could send the documents to some larger health information exchange if someone wanted to do so.

The larger application I see of this technology is as a replacement for the fax machine. In some ways, it’s like a second generation fax machine. The major differentiation I see between a document sent using the CDA “Unstructured Document” HL7 standard and a fax is all the meta data that comes with the CDA document.

The fax or scanning workflow for most EHR software consists of receiving faxed documents or scanning documents into what amounts to basically a bucket of all the scanned documents. Then, it’s up to the user to go in and sort through all the various faxes that have been received or documents that have been scanned. At this point, the user can assign the document to a patient in the EHR. You can imagine the challenges that this can pose. I wonder how many documents scanned or faxed into an EHR have been assigned to the wrong patient accidentally.

That’s what makes this new Fujitsu scanner quite interesting. If it’s receiving the document from an outside source, it will come with the meta information for the document as part of the CDA standard. That can then be leveraged to more quickly assign that document to the patient. Not to mention, then all of that CDA information is available for other uses within the EHR.

For inside documents that are scanned in through the Fujitsu device you can actually assign the document to a patient on the scanner itself. That’s right, you can identify which patient a scanned document belongs to while you’re holding the document in your hand. A much better way to ensure that the document you scanned gets attached to the right patient in your EHR.

I’m just touching on a few of the features of what’s possible with this new Smart Scanner from Fujitsu and smart documents. You can do other things on the scanner like dividing document scans between multiple patients.

Meaningful Use Monday Angle
Of course, as most of you know, on Monday we usually do our regular Meaningful Use Monday series. Turns out that the CDA Clinical Document standard that I discuss above is being adopted by ONC as part of meaningful use. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over time, but don’t be surprised if EHR software has to support this standard in the future.

What I find more intriguing is that the above scanner could be used by someone who doesn’t have an EHR, but wants to exchange patient information. I still think that the long term solution to interoperability of patient information has got to come from connections with EHR software. However, this does illustrate that technology solutions can and will be created to exchange health information. In fact, some combination of these solutions could be a way to meet some of the meaningful use requirements around exchange of health information. You still can’t get the EHR stimulus money without an EHR, but technologies like this could help you achieve meaningful use.

I’ll keep an eye on how this technology progresses. I wonder how many EHR vendors will integrate with this type of technology. Whether we like it or not, documents are going to be a major part of healthcare for the foreseeable future. We’ll see if smart documents and smart scanners are an intermediate step to the health information exchange nirvana (whatever that might be).