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The Devil You Know

Posted on November 25, 2014 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’d recently heard a practice manager talking about their EHR and Practice Management system. We talked about the EHR they’d selected and what they thought of the setup, and then I asked which practice management (PM) system they were using. They responded that they’d been using the same PM system for so long, they didn’t have any desire to change it. Then they dropped the bomb:

“There are a lot of things we hate about our PM system, but we kind of look at it as the devil we know.”

I see this happen really often when it comes to EHR and PM systems. In fact, it happens everywhere in the world of technology. Sometimes we don’t have any desire to change because we know the system we have and it works. Does it have its pain points? Yes. Do they drive us nuts? Yes! But at least we know about them and know how to deal with them.

There’s a real fear by many to switch to a new software where they have to learn about new “devils” for which they don’t know how to handle. I’m often reminded of the concept that “change isn’t always better.” So, in many situations, it’s better to not change. Maybe what you have isn’t very good, but if you’re not careful you could change to something even worse. That’s a real healthy fear.

That said, the fear can go too far. I’m reminded of when I had my first Android phone. I’d gone pretty cheap and gotten this really inexpensive phone. It worked, but was really slow. Plus, the battery barely lasted and it had plenty of devils I had to deal with whenever I used it. Luckily, I didn’t use it that much since I mostly work from home. However, when I was stuck in the depths of a massive exhibit hall at HIMSS and couldn’t get connectivity or I was waiting on the phone to do something, it was absolutely annoying.

The devils of that phone finally got to me and I upgraded to the Samsung S3. It was night and day difference. I must admit that I really didn’t know what I was missing. In many ways that was good, because it helped me to appreciate the upgrade. However, I’d kind of gotten complacent and was fine dealing with the “devils” I knew. (Side Note: Thanks to a few cracked screens from my wife and children, I’m now on the Samsung S5 and it’s awesome. The battery life itself is so compelling.)

Unfortunately, there’s no science to when to stick with the devils you know and when to upgrade. Without incentives, penalties or other regulations, there’s almost never a financial justification to upgrade software. It’s almost always cheaper to limp along with the old technology. However, there’s an extremely important sanity portion of the upgrade decision that is key.

I’ve personally found the time to upgrade and switch is when you know that the upgrade will solve the “sanity” issues you’re experiencing. If the upgrade won’t solve those issues, then it’s better to stick with the devil you know.

Real-Time Analytics and Dashboards for Streamlining Revenue Cycle Automation

Posted on January 25, 2012 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.

Last month CareCloud announced a new real-time analytics dashboard to help doctor streamline revenue cycle automation. The core of their product is what they call CareCloud Analytics. As I think about the announcement, I wondered if it was really a big deal or not and why we hadn’t seen more of this in the various practice management systems and EHR software on the market today.

Is Data Analytics important in Healthcare?
I think this type of information is a big deal. Information is power and this is never more true than in healthcare. The press release does a great job of describing how real-time analytics and dashboards provide information which provides transparency and accountability to a practice. One quote from the article says, “The practice can now manage the productivity of the office staff, monitor in real time the productivity of billers, and gain transparency into the business side of operations to help form better decisions through data, instead of intuition.”

I’m a huge fan of analytics in my business. I call myself a stats addict. I have 2-3 stats programs running on my websites at all times. I get stats from my ad server, from Google’s ad server, and from every other stats engine I can find that has reliable data. Much of my success with my websites is because of my passion for knowing what’s happening with my websites. To me, Data is power! The same can be said for a practice. Data is the power to make important decisions that are needed for the success of your practice.

Why don’t more EHR and PMS vendors provide these analytics?
I’m sure there are a number of reasons why we don’t see real time analytics happening very often in the small practices. Hospitals are a bit different. There are whole companies devoted to just providing these types of services to hospitals that can pay for a full scale data warehouse environment to provide this type of data. A hospital that doesn’t do this type of data mining is missing out as well, but they have a number of options. Although, I don’t think many hospital HIS vendors offer this info by default.

The key reason I think real-time analytics and customizable dashboards are missing in the small practice environment has to do with doctors demand (or lack thereof) for such a feature. This will surprise some, but most will agree that the majority of doctors don’t care much for the business side of the practice. Sure, they care that the business side of the practice effects how much money they take home at the end of the day, but a large portion of doctors would love their lives a lot more if they didn’t have anything to do with the business of a practice. Yes, I know there are exceptions to this, but most doctors want to practice medicine not business.

With this as background, if you ask most doctors what they want from their EHR and Practice Management software, they’ll start to list off all of the clinical and workflow needs that they have. Very few of them will even venture into the business requests like real time analytics. Plus, even if they did venture into the business side of things, would they know how to request such a feature?

EHR and Practice Management Vendors have to show them why it matters to have these real time analytics. It reminds me of the famous quote attributed to Henry Ford. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This can often be taken too far, but I think it applies well when it comes to things like real-time analytics of a practice.

One other reason that a number of companies are missing the analytics and its relationship with revenue cycle management is that they’re too focused on EHR. Many just consider the PMS a standard thing that everyone has already and that there’s no room to innovate. Last I checked meaningful use didn’t have any practice management elements and that’s taken up at least one development cycle for most companies. Too many doctors later dismay, the EHR selection process often puts the practice management side of the puzzle on the backseat. This is a mistake that many practices are paying for today.

As one PR rep for a major EHR company said to me, “Revenue Cycle Management isn’t sexy.” Although, she said this directly after telling me how beneficial it was to their bottom line.