Do EMR and Practice Management systems really improve efficiency or was it a trick?
New and seasoned Practice Managers and Physicians know that handling the day to day tasks of running a medical practice can be time consuming. Administrative tasks and responsibilities have increased with ever-changing government regulations, Medicare laws and legal concerns. Efficiency appears to be a losing battle and stressful workflows take a toll on delivering compassionate patient care. A paperless office was presented as a time and cost saving endeavor that would lead to better patient care. Or was it a trick?
A polished representative came to the office to demonstrate their EMR, Practice Management and Medical Billing system. You were convinced, “this is the solution, what a relief, Ah……!” Thousands of dollars and countless hours later spent on implementation and training. Finally, the “go live” date arrived. Then reality hit: the staff forgot how to upload documents, the doctor was in the exam room trying unsuccessfully to view an MRI with the patient, and you frantically tried to “fix” the issues. The workflow stopped as panic took over. You phoned customer support where you are placed on hold. “Ugh……..you began to question….how much longer will the learning curve take, did I make the right system selection, why did I try to improve efficiency, it really wasn’t that bad and where is that polished sales person now”?
Practice Managers and physicians are responsible, their choices impact the practice. So in lieu of having to go through the entire selection, implementation and training process again, you pull up your boot straps and commit to make this work. Similar to a patient with a chronic illness slowly adapting to pain the clinicians and staff learned to “get by” by taking shortcuts resulting in duplicate entries and improper coding or documentation. Before you know it the workload has increased and staff/clinician moral is at an all-time low.
Why is 2014 the year to consider alternatives?
Meaningful Use is one reason. Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation is under way and many vendors are passing on the financial burden to practices, closing down or consolidating with large organizations. Practices already not well pleased with their current system are reconsidering alternatives. 2014 is the last year to attest for Meaningful Use Stage 1 and receive incentive reimbursement.
Another reason being……Independent practices are faced with mounting costs, declining reimbursement and increased complexity brought on by the Affordable Care Act. Getting paid for the care you deliver is becoming exceedingly more complicated, especially as new reimbursement models and government requirements converge. A growing number of physicians are feeling pressured to give up on private practice. Many practices are seeking other options for survival.
One option is to incorporate a “Smart” EMR/PM/Billing system that has streamlined clinical documentation, care coordination, administrative support and revenue capture. Such systems eliminate the brunt of administrative and patient coordination tasks while continually updating regulations and coding allowing you to run a lean and profitable practice that is focused on patient care. Sound expensive? Low or no startup costs have been reported and most practices using “Smart Systems” see an increase in annual revenue.
Where to begin?
Decide whether to sort through the hundreds of systems yourself or to contact a complimentary consultation service like EHR Scope that compares and sorts your needs to hundreds of systems.
What is being sorted? To begin, which systems are considered “Smart” and support your specific specialty? Do you prefer to work with one fully integrated Clinical, Care Coordination, Practice Management and Medical Billing solution or use multiple systems? What are the advantages of the various web and server platforms? Other questions pertain to: coding, decision support, interface, billing, functionality, mobile devices, training, support, analytics and of course cost.
Which system vendors keep abreast of ever changing regulations and coding? How do they incorporate into the system in a manner that is timely, does not interrupt the daily workflow and is cost effective? Which vendors are forward thinking and able to stand the test of time?
- Identify 3-5 systems that meet your needs.
- Schedule meetings. The most efficient way to fully understand what a system truly delivers is to participate in a meeting that will address your particular practice. This avoids hours spent researching on the internet. Meetings can be customized to the practices specific needs and questions can be addressed candidly.
- Evaluate and rank the systems viewed.
- Continue to review systems a few at a time until you have narrowed the choices down.
- Ask for references. Call and schedule a visit to the office to observe the clinical and administrative workflow. Bring a prepared list of questions. This by and far is the best insurance to fully understand the truth.
What new tricks have I learned?
The key is to identify what you are trying to achieve in a system. Years ago the purpose was to be a paperless office, then it was to attest for meaningful use and now there are innovative options that incorporate a multitude of practice aspects. What system functions are necessary and will increase efficiency, productivity and enhance patient care? Invest your time wisely in due diligence. Speak with references. Information gathered provider to provider is priceless. Costs are a concern. Know your present true cost of operation in order to truly compare. Selecting the most appropriate system can be rewarding in the long run and prevent having to go through this process in the future.
The market is narrowing down as “Smart” system vendors take the lead. Save valuable research time, contact EHR Scope today for a complimentary consultation! A brief conversation will direct your attention to systems that meet your needs.
EHR Scope LLC provides complimentary EMR and Medical Billing consultation that compares and sorts your needs to 600+ EMR and Medical Billing Systems and free 24/7 access to what may be the largest database of EMR companies and products in the US as well as educational materials. Trusted by thousands of providers since 2004!