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Harnessing the Power of Electronic Medical Records with IBM

Posted on June 20, 2011 I Written By

At the heart of healthcare transformation are electronic health records, the basic building blocks of healthcare efficiency. IBM has a long history of creating and connecting systems to share patient information. When standardized and shared, electronic health records provide a powerful means of increasing accuracy and speeding the delivery of patient information to the point of care. They enable better collaboration, more complete records, and better service.



Watch the video here.

Phrazer: Provides On the Scene Translation for Healthcare Providers

Posted on I Written By

Like most things in life, accurate communication is essential to effective healthcare.  Everywhere you go in the world there are people from other countries that do not speak the local language.  No matter what the reason for their presence in a foreign land, it is still important for them to be able to have quality healthcare, which can be difficult when you can’t even so much as say hello to the doctor in his language.

The people at GeaCom have taken the first step in overcoming this difficulty by developing a handheld, multilingual, medical communication system called Phrazer.  This new technology is a touchscreen device that is designed to overcome language, cultural, and even literacy barriers between doctors and patients.  You can read all of the fun numbers in their press release which can be found here, but there are two big features that make this a really valuable tool.

The first is the inter-connectivity of the device with a patient’s electronic health record.  This would allow doctors to gain an understanding of the patients medical history without much more information than can be provided by simply showing a driver’s license or passport.  That alone would aid in preventing the use of conflicting prescriptions, as well as ensuring special medical conditions are being considered during current treatment.

What really makes this device amazing is that GeaCom has now partnered with Sierra Wireless to give their device 3G connectivity.  That means that not only can doctors use this device in hospitals, but it could even be used in the field on the scene of accidents, and by EMT’s en route to a hospital.  That would provide all of the above benefits long before it would have previously been accessible.

That means that special needs could be met during the patients first contact with a healthcare provider, not just once they get to the hospital and they are able to track down your records hours after the initial accident.  Patients will be able to get the care they need as fast as possible.

I am glad to see that the amazing technology we have is being used for better things than to bring Angry Birds, or some other game, with you wherever you go.  It is devices like this that make technology worthwhile.  As more of these useful devices get developed we will find ourselves with healthcare at a whole different level than we would have ever thought possible only five or ten years ago.

Clearing the Air on the Smoking Measures – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Smoking is a major and costly health problem. Because it is such a high priority for CMS, smoking is addressed in the Stage 1 meaningful use requirements by three distinct measures, which has caused a fair amount of confusion. I will try to clarify.

The first is a core meaningful use measure. Therefore, every eligible professional (EP) must satisfy this requirement, unless they can attest to meeting the exclusion.

Core Meaningful Use Measure: Record Smoking Status

More than 50% of all unique patients 13 years old or older seen by the EP have smoking status recorded as structured data.

Exclusion: Any EP who sees no patients 13 years or older.


  • Smoking status must be recorded as one of the following 6 categories: current every day smoker; current some day smoker; former smoker; never smoker; smoker, current status unknown; unknown if ever smoked.
  • The information does not have to be updated at every visit—it simply has to be in the patient’s record, (i.e., no need to ask a non-smoker whether he has taken up the habit yet!)

The other two smoking-related measures are clinical quality measures. There is a different minimum age for the patient population—18, as opposed to 13—and these measures encompass tobacco use in addition to smoking. EPs must report on 6 CQMs—3 Core CQMs and 3 Additional CQMs. Like all CQMs (for Stage 1 meaningful use), neither of these measures have required thresholds that must be met.

The Core CQM (NQF 0028 – Preventive Care and Screening Measure Pair, defined below) must be reported by all providers—there are no exclusions, even if the EP’s EHR generates zero denominators for this measure. In that case, the EP reports zero and must also select and report on an alternate core CQM. This is a 2-part measure that assesses the intervention/treatment provided related to smoking cessation, e.g., counseling and/or medication, and it is based on a 2-year timeframe.

The Additional CQM: (NQF 0027 – Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation, Medical Assistance, defined below) is one of the 38 Additional CQMs, from which EPs must select and report on three, so this measure is an option, not a requirement. It sounds a lot like NQF 0028 above, unless you read the extremely detailed measure specifications. (We’ll leave that responsibility to the EHR vendors, since the CQM data EPs report must be generated by the EHR!) The major difference is that this measure only involves advice and counseling—it does not ask about intervention—and it has a shorter measurement period than NQF 0028.


NQF 0028: Core Clinical Quality Measure: Preventive Care and Screening Measure Pair: a. Tobacco Use Assessment, b. Tobacco Cessation Intervention

a) Percentage of patients aged 18 years and older who have been seen for at least 2 office visits who were queried about tobacco use one or more times with 24 months

b) Percentage of patients aged 18 years and older identified as tobacco users within the past 24 months and have been seen for at least 2 office visits who received cessation intervention.

NQF 0027: Additional Clinical Quality measure: Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation, Medical Assistance: a. Advising Smokers and Tobacco Users to Quit, b. Discussing Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation Medications, c. Discussing Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation Strategies

Percentage of patients 18 years of age or older who were current smokers or tobacco users, who were seen by a practitioner during the measurement year and who received advice to quit smoking or tobacco use, or whose practitioner recommended or discussed smoking or tobacco use cessation medications, methods or strategies.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

EHR Success in Estonia and Ambulatory vs Hospital Differences – EHR Twitter Roundup

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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’m always fascinated by other countries EHR implementations. So many other countries are interesting to consider since they’re missing so many of the barriers that make EHR adoption and even more specifically health information exchange between EHR software so difficult. Nice to learn more about the success that Estonia has had adopting EHR software. I’d like to learn a lot more about what’s being done with international EHR implementations.

I often have an internal battle when writing on this blog when I’m writing something that’s ambulatory EHR specific versus Hospital EMR specific. In fact, I was struck when someone recently told me that this site focuses more on hospital EMR and not ambulatory. I had to laugh since when I write, I’m mostly writing from the hospital EMR perspective.

This stuff aside, there are distinct differences between a hospital EHR software and an ambulatory EHR software. The article linked above highlights some of those differences. Coincidentally, I’m going to be working to write more about specific hospital EHR issues on the aptly named Hospital EMR and EHR blog. If you like Hospital IT, then go and sign up for the Hospital EMR and EHR email list. It will be a nice compliment to this blog and the EMR and EHR blog. I’ve got 3 other writers that will be starting to write on that blog as well. I’m excited to learn more about large hospital EHR vendors like the mythical Epic. Plus, as I learn more about hospital specific EHR issues, I think the content on this site will benefit as well.