Medical Practice Insider News Updates

MACRA proposed rule published by HHS, streamlining federal programs including meaningful use

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Emerging Technology

5 tips for switching to a new EHR

Healthcare providers looking to replace their electronic health record platforms are in the majority these days.

Several strategic factors are driving EHR replacement trends. With the passing of the HITECH Act in 2009, a number of EHR start-ups quickly entered the market without the necessary depth and breadth to support big-picture industry goals.

Medical practices, likewise, selected technology primarily to receive federal incentive dollars, deploying limited infrastructures without a clear long-term strategy. As these organizations aim to make the shift from volume to value, they are starting to recognize they need more powerful and comprehensive EHR technology to be successful. Top-line functionality to consider includes accountable care, meaningful use, as well as robust project and change management.

Moving forward, organizations must think about how their EHR can guide them through a complex and changing future. Here are five tips for accomplishing that:

1. Allocate adequate resources. Don't skimp on finances and expertise to ensure that fundamental systems -- care documentation, coding, billing and so on -- remain intact while improvements support emerging needs, such as population health management programs, capturing total cost of care of certain populations or employing predictive analytics based on risk-analysis.

2. Leverage and build on lessons learned from the first EHR investment. Today, buyers and users at healthcare organizations are more sophisticated and have witnessed first-hand what technology can do to the practice of medicine -- both good and bad. Practices should seize the opportunity to apply lessons learned and be more intentional when selecting and onboarding new solutions.

3. Vet new EHR technology. This must involve actively seeking provider feedback and buy-in. Physicians should take a hard look at processes and align EHR strategies to improve workflows -- a step often skipped in prior EHR implementations. Often, when end-users are engaged and have the opportunity to offer input from selection to go-live, the rates of adoption and effectiveness rise exponentially, better positioning the organization for longer-term success.

4. Employ a prescriptive methodology should around usage. Many legacy EHRs made their mark with early adopters by allowing organizations to implement a variation based on individual clinician preferences that appealed to a wide range of providers instead of a best-practices methodology. In the value-based landscape, minimizing variances in care becomes more critical to ensure consistent quality while keeping costs in check. Consequently, organizations should become prescriptive in their approach to EHR use. By implementing best practices across an organization, a facility can not only realize more reliable care but also better capture the entire patient experience.

5. Consider the business side. Risk contract management, revenue cycle operations, patient collections, they all matter. Keep business functions responsive and nimble to keep pace with emerging regulations, developing requirements and new strategies.

Retiring an old solution and onboarding a new one can be expensive and resource-intensive. Choosing technology wisely from the outset, and making sure it's used properly, will enable organizations to better plan for and leverage platforms for future initiatives.

Monte Sandler is executive vice president of RCM and Michael Lovett is executive vice president and general manager at NextGen Healthcare

Innovative technologies get spotlight at HIMSS15

The moment has finally arrived after months of preparation — HIMSS15 is upon us.

Hundreds of informative sessions await healthcare industry providers, experts and vendors on topics ranging from the new meaningful use Stage 3 proposed rule to navigating the world of EHR help desks.

Physicians were targeted on Sunday with the annual Physicians’ IT Symposium, and former president of the United States George W. Bush will keynote the conference on April 15 — just in case meaningful use isn’t your favorite thing.

Alongside such epic speeches and educational roundtables, HIMSS15 also hosts a sweeping exhibit hall packed with burgeoning technologies. Check out some of the cool gadget releases and demos you won’t want to miss by clicking the banner below. 

Brief interventions ineffective for reducing unhealthy drug use

The United States has invested substantially in screening and brief intervention for illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse, based in part on evidence of efficacy for unhealthy alcohol use. However, it is not a recommended universal preventive service in primary care, according to background information in an article published in JAMA by Richard Saitz, MD, of the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues .

Bone marrow transplantation shows potential for treating adults with severe sickle cell disease

Use of a lower intensity bone marrow transplantation method showed promising results among 30 patients (16-65 years of age) with severe sickle cell disease, according to a study in the July 2 issue of JAMA.

For older adults with pneumonia, azithromycin lowers risk of death, slightly increases risk of heart attack

In a study that included nearly 65,000 older patients hospitalized with pneumonia, treatment that included azithromycin compared with other antibiotics was associated with a significantly lower risk of death and a slightly increased risk of heart attack, according to a study in the June 4 issue of JAMA.

Study finds large increase in type 1 and 2 diabetes among U.S. youth

In a study that included data from more than three million children and adolescents from diverse geographic regions of the United States, researchers found that the prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased significantly between 2001 and 2009, according to the study in the May 7 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on child health. 

New blood pressure guideline suggests millions no longer need hypertension medication

Applying the updated 2014 blood pressure guideline to the U.S. population suggests that nearly 6 million adults are no longer classified as needing hypertension medication, and that an estimated 13.5 million adults would now be considered as having achieved goal blood pressure, primarily older adults, according to a JAMA study released online to coincide with the 2014 American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions.

Mammogram screening should be based on patients' age, risk level and individual preferences

About 40,000 women die each year of breast cancer in the United States. Mammography screening is one way to detect breast cancer early. However, mammograms have benefits and harms. A review of existing medical studies and trials suggests that mammography screening decisions should be individualized to each patient based on age, risk levels and preferences, according to a study appearing in the April 2 JAMA. Catherine Dolf has more in this JAMA Report video.

Demand for healthcare services creates business opportunity

Newly insured individuals under the Affordable Care Act — combined with an aging, but still growing, population — will combine to drive an additional 100 million patient visits by 2025, according medical office software provider Kareo.

Forward-thinking practices will handle the increasing volume by using technology to streamline tasks and reduce time spent on administrative duties.

Kareo reported that the average primary care physician sees 78 patients and works 50 hours a week. So for example, if your practice could reduce time spent on administrative tasks and add more patients by using improved scheduling and other tools, each provider could see 15 more patients a week. If your average visit reimbursement is $100, you’d reap an additional $75,000 a year per provider.

Additional details appear in the infographic below, published with permission from Kareo.

Click to Enlarge.