EHR implementation is a subject that is weighing heavily on the minds of many healthcare professionals. Since not every doctor or medical administrator is trained effectively in the specific details of EHRs, or electronic health records, some may find it difficult to make this transition. However, the effort to make the switch should be well worth it.
Even after the reduction in Medicare spending due to the federal sequester, eligible professionals can be awarded as much as $38,220 from the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. In order to qualify for these benefits for 2013, medical practices need to have an EHR system installed, operating, and running without any glitches for 90 consecutive calendar days of 2013. This effectively gives practices until October 1st to properly handle their EHR purchase and implementation needs, a timeframe of less than three months.
If your practice still has some work to do with EHR implementation, there are several steps you need to complete to get your EHR systems up and running.
The first step in successfully implementing electronic health record technology is ensuring that you can accurately assess your organization's current operating status. Ask yourself key questions, such as:
- Are your administrative processes being documented in an organized and efficient manner?
- Do your staff members totally understand all pertinent clinical workflows?
- Does your team have sufficient computer literacy to make them comfortable with EHR tools?
Your next step is to find out which kind of EHR system is ideal for your practice. Think about the answers from step 1 in order to select one of the EHR platforms that will work for your record keeping necessities. Factors to consider during this phase include:
- Pricing concerns: Find out the total cost involved in getting your EHR system up and running including maintenance, upgrade, interfacing with labs and pharmacies, etc. Are there options for phased payments? Is there a cost to customize reports with your practice name, logo, and contact information?
- System server options: Will files be stored locally, or is there an option for software as a service to be implemented? Will existing patient data need to be migrated onto these new servers?
- Hypothetical scenarios: Give a prospective EHR vendor some examples of patient care situations. How would their system help you skillfully navigate this situation?
From there, you can begin focusing on the final stage of EHR implementation. Develop a plan for switching existing systems to electronic records. Many practices assign a project manager to oversee this task. It is also important to adequately train your team so they can help contribute to your practice reaching the Stage 1 threshold for meaningful use. The Stage 1 threshold requires healthcare professionals to show that they are meaningfully utilizing an EHR system, using the system to collect health information to improve the care that they render to patients, and using it to turn in measures such as clinical quality indicators.
If your medical practice has been delaying on EHR implementation, you need to immediately begin taking steps to get started in purchasing, installing and implementing an EHR system. Properly utilizing these techniques will not only make your practice more efficient at managing the needs of your current patients, it will also give you eligibility to receive financial benefits from the government and avoid the 1% CMS "adjustments", or reimbursement reductions which will begin in 2015. Healthcare Information Services, L.L.C. can help you with your EHR implementation.
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