IT Support and Hardware for Clinics
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IT Support and Hardware for Clinics
News, Information and Updates on Hardware and IT Tools to help improve your Medical practice
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Tips, Hacks, and Hope for a Better EHR System 

Tips, Hacks, and Hope for a Better EHR System  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

All conversations about physician burnout eventually come around to the topic of EHR systems. The ongoing struggle with EHR systems is a chronic complaint, and physicians can feel that they are held hostage to their software. "If you're using a particular system, you have to go along with the flow," says Ron Sterling, president of Sterling Solutions, a healthcare information technology consulting firm in Silver Spring, Md., "even if that's not that way you would have done it yourself." However, there are ways to make the arrangement a little more comfortable. And there is reason to hope that things may soon improve.



"My system had the option of voice recognition software, and that saves a ton of time," says Peter Basch, MD, a general internal medicine physician in Washington, DC, and medical director of EHR and IT policy at Medstar Health. Even if voice recognition costs a little more at the outset, it generally saves money in the long run because it increases efficiency. If you've tried voice recognition before and weren't pleased, it may be worth a second look. "These programs have become much better, in the past few years" says Janis Orlowski, chief Health Care Officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).


You can also improve your relationship with your software by getting personal. "Medical language is a constricted vocabulary," says Basch. "Depending on your specialty or your practice, you tend to say the same things over and over." Basch recommends taking the time to personalize your software with macros and templates. "It takes a little time up front, but saves a huge amount of time in the long run," he says.


Power in Numbers

Of course, some of the problems must be addressed by vendors. "Many EHRs are put together without thinking of the user," says Basch. He describes such systems as being like a scalpel, but with the physician holding the blade end— "painful and not very efficient," he says. "EHRs are cluttered with redundant information," Orlowski points out. "Why are we including past surgeries, allergies, and so on every time? EHR's need to be smarter about displaying data," she says. You can no doubt add your own list of inefficiencies. But how to get software companies to listen?


"Vendors do listen to customer complaints," says Sterling. "But they wait for a general consensus before making changes." The best way to get the ear of your vendor is approach them as a group. If many doctors—particularly ones from the same specialty—have similar complaints, they're more likely to get results an individual grumbler here and there. Sterling also says that your chances of success are greater the more specific you can be. Rather than saying "I don't like the way this system handles orders," say something like, "I don't like that I have to cancel an order for a patient who is refusing care. I'd like to be able to leave the order as a recommended medication."


If your EHR is contributing to your burnout, it might be worth the time effort to try to improve your relationship with the software.

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How 2014 Proved the Need for Long-Term Care EHR Technology |

How 2014 Proved the Need for Long-Term Care EHR Technology | | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |
This past year continued the healthcare trends of recent years with significant ongoing change in the industry, particularly in senior care and the need for long-term care EHR technology and care coordination tools.
The increase in the number of people approaching retirement age is putting pressure on healthcare costs and the senior care industry is directly impacted. The business and service-provider model for the senior living sector, and specifically the senior living sector, is changing rapidly. Just look at programs such as age in place as an example.
With the profound increase in the number of Americans becoming senior citizens and turning to some form of long-term care during their lives, the senior care landscape is undergoing fundamental transformations. Seniors are increasingly entering care facilities at a more advanced age with more complex health care needs. This trend, dubbed “the acuity conundrum,” is one that has become increasingly top of mind for many senior living organizations over the past year.
Facilities which underestimate the impacts of the acuity conundrum do so at their own risk. High acuity residents can require changes in staffing and documentation to ensure adequate care for this new type of resident. More complex care ultimately results in the need for systems to support more complex compliance obligations. However, since long-term care providers do not yet qualify for meaningful use incentives, EHR adoption rates are slower than at hospitals and physician practices.
Another challenge occurs when a resident’s care is transitioned between acute care and long-term care providers. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has acknowledged this as a significant challenge and is addressing issues and establishing standards and solutions for long-term care providers. Great senior care depends upon integrating data with effective and consistent communication to those in the immediate network of a facility’s care continuum. Technology not only expedites this communication but in many cases dramatically reduces errors and delays that are prevalent in paper-based transactions.
The senior living industry has been trailing other areas of healthcare in terms of technology adoption. There is an opportunity for our industry to learn from what has and hasn’t worked in terms of business, technology and regulatory requirements.
Here are some observations on how we can start to address the acuity conundrum and improve long-term care delivery:
360° connectivity
Providers must put place greater emphasis on re-aligning their business models to support higher acuity levels. This can be done with more clinically oriented staffing models and technology solutions that support a focus on quality outcomes and regulatory compliance.
Compared to single-purpose or “standalone” software solutions, integrated software platforms have the advantage of optimizing multiple or all core functions of the business, from enabling better-connected resident care and documentation to delivering high-quality data insights for resident outcome analysis, financial planning and risk mitigation. Connecting all aspects of resident care and business operations is a prerequisite for solving the acuity conundrum.
A person/patient-centered care approach 
Not only does having an EHR platform in a senior care environment improves resident care, boosts staff productivity, and gives providers better visibility into resident needs, but most importantly it also provides a documented person-centric approach to care. This means health-related information follows the resident and places emphasis on quality and health outcomes, enabling care providers and their partners to rely on the most up-to-date information across care settings.
Intelligence, workflow and mobility — anytime, anywhere
New mobile and cloud-based technologies allow centralized data collection and documentation of care delivery, medication management, and other important functions. Healthcare practitioners have found new and easy ways to get quick answers to health-related questions, such as a nurse sending a text message to a physician for guidance on a resident issue.
Secure, HIPAA-compliant texting now allows physicians and clinical staff to communicate and collaborate on resident care via mobile devices, deeming their physical location or access to a computer moot. It also reduces errors associated with paperwork and other manual processes while increasing confidence in decision-making. Other forms of secure communication are also emerging. For example, EHR technology enables communication between desktop computers and mobile devices, expanding the real-time communication capabilities between healthcare providers regardless of the setting.
As the healthcare industry evolves, there will be a greater need for interoperability which will enable providers to make the best decisions for the resident and/or patient to support transitions of care across the care continuum. Long-term care providers must become better integrated, better connected and more streamlined with their partners in care.
The right technology strategy is the key to solving the challenges of the rising acuity conundrum with a connected and truly resident-centric approach to senior care.

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