Special report: The confusing, promising world of EMR/EHR

Rapport spécial : Confondre, monde prometteur d'EMR/HER

par Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | February 21, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“Legislation and mandates relating to meaningful use have created more of an interest in this space,” says Steven Zobel, vice president of product development for ADP AdvancedMD. “But providers are more technologically savvy; they are realizing they want to have a true digital solution rather than dad’s old clipboard and paper.”

Further government mandates affecting EHRs include ANSI 5010 – the new version of HIPAA transaction standards, that regulates the electronic transmission of health care transactions, replacing the existing version and addressing many of the shortcomings in the current version, including the fact that 4010 does not support the forthcoming 10th Revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems coding. As of Jan. 1, practices needed to complete electronic transactions in an ANSI 5010-compliant format.

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ICD-10 raises the number of codes from 18,000 to 140,000, which describe medical services in bills hospitals send to insurers. The codes will be so detailed that they include patient injuries in chicken coops and opera houses. ICD-10 will officially be implemented on Oct. 1, 2013.

“The transition to ICD-10 is going to be significant,” says Bob Larson, director of market analysis for NextGen Healthcare. “People are going to have to train their end-users on how their EHR software is going to change, in order to get their incentives.”

These moving regulatory targets are the biggest challenge facing the EHR sector, according to Zobel.

“It’s just ridiculous — as the codes are changing it’s adding so much more complexity into this space,” says Zobel.

The Heart and Vascular Center of Arizona was actually providing doctors with more information than the government designated, but even they had to change their workflow to go along with new regulations, according to the practice’s administrator Barbara Watkins.

“All of these regulations have not been user-friendly for our practice,” she says. “We need to have a team of individuals constantly making sure we are following the latest regulations. For small and medium practices, this can be daunting.”

Benefits and improvements
While many physicians have yet to meet criteria for meaningful use and other government mandates, many have at least begun using EHRs independent of financial incentives.

“Practices fully embracing EHRs are doing it for a lot of reasons other than those stimulus dollars,” says Jim Elliot, ADP AdvancedMD’s vice president of marketing. “It truly can improve a practice’s return on investment and transform their workflow.”

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