Category Archives: EMR News

EMR Software: Beyond Meaningful Use

Compare EMR put out a thoughtful note regarding the current stimulus incentive dollars:

EMR vendors are quickly scooping up Meaningful Use certifications on their systems. They know it’s not optional – it’s mandatory for their survival – so they are ensuring they get certified. This means that the certification is not the key to finding the right system.

Obviously, it’s important to review costs when you compare EMR systems. But it is just as important to look at workflows and implementations processes.

An EMR implementation cannot be done in 8 hours. If the vendor isn’t prepared to work with you at a level you are comfortable with, you may want to look elsewhere.

Also, challenge the prospective EMR vendors to show you your workflows in their system. It may require some build on their part, but they should be able to show you how the system will look when it’s live in your environment, for your practice and your specialty specifically.

To save some time, complete the form below, and the team at EMR Software Pro will help get you matched to EMR software vendors can best meet your needs. Compare EMR options now; we’re happy to help at no charge.

Meaningful Use and EMR Software Comparison

Meaningful Use is the hottest buzzword in Health IT right now. The PCAST report (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) provided this summary: Recent Federal legislation has charted a new path forward. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, authorized expenditures of at least $20 billion to promote the adoption and use of EHR technologies that would ideally be connected through a national health information network. Hospitals and physicians who make “meaningful use” of interoperable EHRs can qualify for extra payments through Medicare and Medicaid.

EMR Software Meaningful Use

Vendors are quickly pursuing Meaningful Use certification for 3rd parties such as CCHIT. To qualify for these incentive dollars, providers must be using a Meaningful Use certified EMR product. That’s only one of many requirements that will incur workflow changes and additional possible investments. Providers and administrators are encouraged to consider Meaningful Use when beginning the EMR software selection process and EMR implementation. However, it is more important to select a product that will be supported and upgraded, and will best meet your hospital’s or clinic’s needs.

Use the form below to share some specifics about your clinics needs; we’ll match you to vendors that can meet your needs, for free quotes and demos.

Health Information Exchanges and the EMR Selection Process

When comparing EMR software solutions, keep in mind the need for interconnectivity with outside systems: local hospitals, labs, transcription services, and many other beyond those. It’s crucial that the vendors you are considering can currently accommodate exports and imports via interfaces. You will want to exchange at least demographics, labs, meds, allergies, problems.

Beyond these interfaces, a bigger-picture plan is in the works from HHS. They are funding and planning projects to provide data pathways for hospitals and clinics across each state, potentially building a country wide Health Information Exchange.

Here is a summary from the ONC:

About the State HIE Cooperative Agreement Program
In February and March 2010, ONC granted 56 awards totaling $548 million to help states (including territories) develop and advance resources to facilitate the exchange of health information among health care providers and hospitals within their jurisdictions to ultimately encourage and support information exchange across states. The awards were made to states or organizations designated by states to participate in the program. The program aims to ensure that every eligible health care provider has at least one option for health information exchange that meets the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, defined by CMS in a final rule released on July 13, 2010. To this end, awardees will use their funding to:

* Create and implement up-to-date privacy and security requirements for HIE
* Coordinate with Medicaid and state public health programs to establish an integrated approach
* Monitor and track meaningful use HIE capabilities in their state
* Set strategy to meet gaps in HIE capabilities
* Ensure consistency with national standards

HIE is fundamental to realizing the full potential of meaningful use of electronic health records and health information technology that can lead to improved coordination, quality, and efficiency of health care.

The PCAST (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) report on Health Information Technology highlighted the capabilities of an EMR to exchange data in structured format, allowed more helpful and real time data to be submitted for clinical trials and community health trending.

EMR Software Pro consultants have seen first hand that the “structured” or “discrete” data elements in an EMR software lead to a standardization of data in patient charts. This opens the door to sharing, trending, efficiency, and other benefits to improve patient health and health care costs.

Hospitals and clinics seeking to compare EMR systems should inquire about vendors’ roadmaps. What are their plans to be a part of future HIEs and allow you to take advantage of the increased communication, information, and cooperation?

Questions to Ask EMR Vendors

When you begin the EMR selection process, you will want to be sure your committee has representation for the providers and the staff. You will want to engage individuals that can speak to the organizations needs from a billing, scheduling, workflow, and IT standpoint. assembled a list with excellent qualifying questions for evaluating EMR software providers. They published this in 2007, but the points are just as relevant today.

Use the EMR Software Pro form below to conduct initial research, identifying pre-screened vendors that serve your area and are matched to your requirements.

* How long have you been in business?

* How many live sites are currently using your software? If possible, learn which specialties do or do not use the software.

* Can you provide me a representative list of your clients, allowing me to randomly select which practices to contact? If not, why? (Most vendors won’t give you their entire list, but the customer list they offer needs to be comprehensive.)

* Is the electronic medical records system being used in a multi-site environment? If yes, ask about their experiences to date.

* Is your product a client-server model or ASP model? Each has its own benefits, although smaller practices will probably want an ASP solution.

* What is the typical length of time between the purchase date and the “go live” date? No matter the EMR vendor or the EMR system, there will be a delay between the purchase date and the go live date. Look for vendors who can implement the EMR software in a reasonable amount of time, while still allowing enough time for implementation pre-work.

* What is your plan for implementation? This plan should be thorough! Beware of vendors who don’t offer a detailed EMR implementation plan. Even the most basic systems require a plan.

* What type of technical support is available, and how much does it cost? Beware of EMR vendors who require expensive technical support agreements, or those who advertise “rock bottom” prices with no mention of service or support. In many cases, these vendors require additional annual costs for service and support. To be fair, many vendors offer affordable electronic medical records with no expensive service or support requirements.

* What is the process for fixing bugs and launching upgrades/new versions to the EMR system? Every system will have bugs. Be less concerned about bugs and more concerned about how those issues are resolved.

* How are licenses issued? Is the license fee payable monthly, yearly, or is it a one-time fee? Some EMR companies charge a one time fee, others charge a monthly subscription, and still others charge a one time fee with monthly or yearly service fees. Do your homework.

* How much do software upgrades cost? Are these upgrades mandatory?

* Is your electronic medical record system CCHIT certified? Look for systems that have been certified. The 2007 standards were more rigorous than the 2006 standards, although any certified system is better than a non-certified system. Again, to be fair, some good EMRs have yet to receive CCHIT certification, but a lack of certification should be a red flag for more homework.

* For ASP systems, how frequently are backups performed, and how long are data stored? The more the better. It rarely hurts to “over-backup” information!

* For ASP systems, what percent of time is the system functional and online? An ASP-based electronic medical record is of little use if it’s always down. Look for systems with the best uptimes, and aim for a 98% minimum.

* Does your EMR system import and export data to and from common formats, such as .csv or .txt? If not, ask why.

* What standard clinical templates, if any, are included in your software system? How were these templates created? Look for systems with templates that are based on the most recently published clinical/medical evidence, and look for companies that routinely update these templates.

* Does your system have a single summary page for each patient?
* Are both structured and free text allowed for documenting progress notes?

* Does the EMR system generate a summary at the end of the visit that provides the patient with visit findings and discharge instructions? Most systems will do this. Beware those electronic medical records that don’t.

* Does the software system provide patient education handouts? These aren’t as important as the end-of-visit patient summary, but they are still an important feature.

* Is there an additional cost for transferring date from my existing EMR into the new EMR software system? Some of the most affordable systems charge you to migrate or transfer data from your old EMR system to your new software system. Others allow a one time transfer at no charge. Look for the vendors who offer a free or deeply discounted transfer.

* Can the software be accessed from remote locations? For most ASP systems, the answer will be yes. Many client-server systems can also be accessed remotely, although it can be difficult.

* Can the system send prescriptions electronically to pharmacies in my local market? Can it fax orders to pharmacies? If it does neither of these tasks, look elsewhere!

* Does the EMR feature disease-specific clinical templates? The better the clinical templates, the better the system.

* Is there a dashboard that shows the day at-a-glance? If the EMR doesn’t offer a dashboard, look elsewhere!

* Can a personal health record be generated? If yes, great, but you shouldn’t necessarily ditch a company that doesn’t have a PHR feature. If the EMR system doesn’t generate personal health records, ask when the feature will be available.

* Does the system have a built-in charge capture mechanism and automatic coding advisor? These features are important; they’ll likely help pay for the system. Look for a system that minimizes defensive coding. A solid medical billing component helps, too! Some vendors will offer free medical billing services if you use their software, and others will offer a free electronic medical records system if you use their medical billing services.

Use this form below to conduct initial research. We’ll help you identify pre-screened vendors that serve your area and are matched to your requirements.