August 26, 2011
Successful EMR Implementation: Vital Signs
The implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) is an integral part of the recent health reforms and many hospitals, clinics and physicians have already started using EMRs successfully. There are numerous ways to gauge the efficiency and the compliance of EMRs with government guidelines to be eligible for the incentives provided by the Government. Successful implementation of EMR or EHR entails numerous criteria laid down by the government such as “meaningful use”, and other guidelines that can range from recording patient information using EMRs to E-prescriptions. However, there are several other additional factors that determine if the EMR that has been in use is successful and would remain that way in the future.
The most important aspect of successful implementation of Electronic Medical Records or EHR is the Meaningful Use criteria. If the EMR is not being used in a meaningful manner then physicians may not qualify for the incentives and also end up wasting time, effort and money because of improper use or major technical problems. This can lead to a decrease in revenue and a drop in the quality of care provided to the patient and completely defeats the purpose of EMRs and EHRs. There are 15 core requirements under the stage 1 of Meaningful Use and hospitals and physicians can analyze whether all these requirements are being met. There are another set of requirements out of which at least 5 must be met in order to demonstrate meaningful use.
The successful implementation of EMRs also depends on the technical performance of the various systems involved in the healthcare IT sector. It is important to analyze whether there have been problems with particular software and what type of support the vendor has provided after implementation. It is also essential to analyze whether to hire a technician if there have been disruptions due to technical hurdles. Good technical support can ensure that the system being used for EMRs is safe from hackers and patient privacy is not jeopardized.
Cost Benefit Analysis
The cost benefit analysis of EMRs can be calculated not just monetarily but also in the form of the quality of the care provided to patients. The cost of successfully maintaining and using EMRs is certainly justified if physicians and hospitals can qualify for the incentive which means that an effort toward better patient care is being carried out even as costs. Some of the costs that EMRs will directly cut are towards maintaining and storing paper records, costs related to the software itself which will partially be paid off by the incentives, administration costs, and the cost of opportunities foregone due to time constraints.
Reduction of Errors
EMRs can provide a system to physicians, hospitals, administrators, and medical billers and coders that helps in reducing errors. The reduction of errors directly impacts costs as well as patient care so analyzing the amount of reduction in errors in medical billing, medical coding, and administration can assist in deciding whether the EHR implementation is successful. Moreover, reduction in errors can also save time for physicians which can be utilized for concentrating on better patient care.
The successful implementation of EMR involves not just the technology but also the people who utilize it on a daily basis. Taking feedback about the EMR from the medical staff and administrators can help physicians in gauging the success of the implementation of the EMR and help in analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the system. The feedback can be in the form of staff meetings or discussions where problems related to EMR and other related issues are taken up. Such feedback can also be taken from medical billers and coders who have experience in dealing with payers and the changing technology as well as the latest compliance guidelines. However, the best feedback is in the form of monetary results and better patient care which can be strong indicators that the EMR implementation has been successful.
For more information on how successful implementation of EMRs is likely to impact physicians and their billing processes effectively and cost-effectively cope with it, and to know more about our consultancy services on how physicians can handle EMR implementation better and similar issues in their practice, please visit medicalbillersandcoders.com, the largest consortium of billers and coders in the US across all specialties.
EMR / EHR / Health IT