Solution Provider Helps Healthcare CIOs Contribute More Strategic Value to Their Organizations
NEW YORK, November 11, 2014 – A few short years ago, electronic medical record (EMR) systems were employed by only a handful of the most sophisticated physicians and hospitals. Now, as a result of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act’s “Meaningful Use” incentives, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), providers are scrambling to purchase and implement EMR systems. But that doesn’t mean they’re using them. Doctors are disillusioned by spending more time with the computer than their patients, and they aren’t taking full advantage of the vast capabilities EMR software suites make available to them. According to Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com), there are eight critical areas where healthcare professionals can sharpen their IT skills and optimize their utilization of data residing in feature-rich electronic medical records.
“The primary issues with EMR today are the continued lack of utilization and mismatched expectations by clinicians and administrators about the native problem-solving capabilities of EMR,” says Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader for Logicalis Healthcare Solutions. “Many hospitals use only a portion of the capabilities available in EMR today, and many applications are not configured in a way that promotes usage of their deep capabilities. Hospitals and physicians have made significant investments in EMR; now it’s time to improve and optimize their utilization.”
Eight Mistakes Hospitals Make in EHR
- Lacking complete records: Surprisingly, one of the biggest issues with EMR today is the inability to access all available data on a patient. While a doctor or hospital may use an EMR system, patient data resides in multiple, disparate systems, providing clinicians an incomplete picture. Hospitals are clearly still struggling with interoperability. Connecting data sources would offer a single view to the provider looking for a consolidated patient record making interoperability a priority for CIOs. While possible today, this is not yet the norm. Fortunately, though, with the proper project planning and data governance discipline, access to consolidated health records is on the horizon.
- Missing patient images: A subset of patient data visibility is imaging. While there are numerous Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) vendors, most do not provide a single source for all images associated with a patient’s record. EMRs today do a good job of allowing a doctor to look at a patient’s basic information, but not necessarily all of the related images for that patient, beyond radiology. Images are most prevalent in radiology, but they’re also becoming increasingly important in other medical specialties from cardiology and OBGYN to surgery and wound care. To be most effective, a patient’s electronic medical records need to include all of these images. Imaging is also important to the finance offices of hospitals and medical practices for storing patients’ insurance cards, driver’s licenses, etc., which need to be accessed on an as-needed basis.
- Not following best practices: One of the chief reasons EMR implementations are viewed as unsuccessful is a lack of adequate user training. Users can “get by” based on what they have taught themselves or learned on the floor from peers, but these practices may not be the most effective way of using the features in a system. In a healthcare organization that combines Lean and Six Sigma approaches to deliver performance improvements, many core processes can be improved. The goals are to save time and reduce costs and overhead. Using an objective third party to evaluate clinical and financial workflows and processes helps healthcare organizations optimize the use of their technology and, more importantly, the use of their employee resources.
- Failing to consider DR: Because health systems are critically reliant on electronic records, system failure is not an option. EMR downtime can cost thousands of dollars per minute. Business disruption, lost revenue, and most importantly, patient safety are at issue during EMR outages. Besides practicing downtime procedures, it’s important to perform periodic data center assessments to identify areas of weakness that can impact end-user experience. Failing to address gaps leaves the organization vulnerable to downtime. Another important area to consider is disaster recovery (DR). Logicalis encourages healthcare clients to examine whether tapping the cloud for disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) might be right for them. Cloud providers working with healthcare clients should be HIPAA-certified, and clients should ask if a DRaaS solution employs redundancy so that, if part of the system goes down, it automatically fails over to another system to maintain continuous uptime for the healthcare data system.
- Missing out on Meaningful Use 2: Under ARRA’s Stage 1 Meaningful Use, healthcare organizations procured and implemented EMR systems. Now, under Meaningful Use Stage 2, they’ll have to prove they’re using them in very specific ways. Meaningful Use Stage 2, for example, requires providers to offer patient portals to give patients access to their own healthcare data. It also requires doctors to be able to perform key tasks such as ordering prescriptions electronically through the medical records of a specific patient. Providers unable to demonstrate meaningful use through activities like these and others by October 1, 2015, will be penalized 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements, making this a “use it or lose it” scenario. The good news is, actions can be taken now to ensure organizations are prepared for Meaningful Use attestation.
- Lacking in mobility: Like business users, many physicians today want to use their own personal devices – iPads or cell phones – to access EMR and text information. If those devices are not secure, however, then they are in violation of HIPAA rules. With the wide variety of mobile phones and tablets available to clinicians, putting the right security in place to address each device and individual user may mean turning to an experienced third party that can assess the environment and provide specific solutions. Organizations should also ensure they have a regularly updated personal device usage policy that promotes the use of secure, manageable devices.
- Missing out on ICD-10 Readiness: Many institutions have taken a wait-and-see approach to implementing ICD-10, a list of medical classification codes. The requirement to adopt ICD-10 has been delayed until October 1, 2015, but providers that continue to wait will be ill-prepared to address the huge amount of change ICD-10 will bring to the coding environment. Moving from ICD-9 will increase classifications from 17,000 codes to 141,000 codes. ICD-10 requires more diagnostic specificity, so doctors may now have to use multiple codes for the same condition. This requires a greater attention to detail and a working knowledge of the codes. Fortunately, through careful thought and planning, providers only need to train clinicians on a small subset of the entire code set. Doing so will avoid assumptions and misinformation and will reduce denied insurance claims and reimbursements. A thorough assessment, planning, communication and training will give providers the tools they need to prepare for this transition.
- Lacking in analytics: Hospitals and medical practices capture and store large volumes of data. The challenge is locating, integrating, gathering and analyzing that data to improve patient safety, contain costs, increase efficiencies, and improve clinical outcomes. In healthcare, big data isn’t about choosing a platform. It’s about creating a data governance strategy, rationalizing data, and prioritizing analytics initiatives to make the best use of clinical and financial data.
Logicalis is an international IT solutions and managed services provider with a breadth of knowledge and expertise in communications and collaboration, data center and cloud services, and managed services.
Logicalis employs nearly 3,700 people worldwide, including highly trained service specialists who design, specify, deploy and manage complex ICT infrastructures to meet the needs of almost 6,000 corporate and public sector customers. To achieve this, Logicalis maintains strong partnerships with technology leaders such as Cisco, HP, IBM, CA Technologies, EMC, NetApp, Microsoft, VMware and ServiceNow.
The Logicalis Group has annualized revenues of $1.6 billion, from operations in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific, and is fast establishing itself as one of the leading IT and Communications solution integrators specializing in the areas of advanced technologies and services.
The Logicalis Group is a division of Datatec Limited, listed on the Johannesburg and London AIM Stock Exchanges, with revenues of over $5 billion.
For more information, visit www.us.logicalis.com.