par Diana Bradley
, Staff Writer | February 21, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
The Heart and Vascular Center of Arizona had the foresight to go live in June 2008 with their EMR – GE’s Centricity Practice Solution – before the regulations began. The practice attested to meaningful use last April. An immediate change hit the practice after EMR implementation.
“Our practice has responded very positively to EMR use and the efficiency it provides,” says Watkins. “Our provider’s documentation is vastly improved by utilization of the EMR. We also use our support staff more efficiently and they are able to assist the physicians with some of the documentation gathering prior to the actual office visit. It’s all about how you use the product and having the proper workflows and training in place.”
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Taking into account staff time, printing and mailing costs, Watkins found releasing medical records pre-EMR to be quite pricey. Now her practice can release information via a portal, lightening the administrative workload.
“Finding a chart and giving a patient or referring physician a quick answer or update used to be time consuming and expensive,” says Watkins. “We can communicate quickly and efficiently with our EHR as you can always find the chart. We also feel patient communication, release of medical records and online bill pay are all a breeze with our integrated patient portal.”
Another EHR benefit was made apparent in April when a tornado damaged three centers — all of which had to be temporarily abandoned — that belonged to the same medical practice in Alabama. Thanks to ADP AdvancedMD’s cloud-based EHR solution, the clinic administrator, Becky Horton, was able to grab a laptop and access all of the medical data, patient records, billing information and clinical data from a nearby library. And data was current because it’s backed-up every hour. This ensured employees received their paychecks and patients and doctors could continue to give and receive needed care.
Security and malpractice concerns
Cybersecurity was a hot topic in 2011, with attacks, breaches and general security issues rife in the news. And the majority of health organizations are not exempt from this danger, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute’s September report, “Old Data Learns New Tricks: Managing Patient Privacy and Security on a New Data-Sharing Playground.” As EHR adoption increases, so will cyber attacks on health data.
Over the past two years, theft accounted for 66 percent of total reported health breaches; and 54 percent of health organizations surveyed reported at least one issue with information privacy and security, says the report.