From the Wheel to Uber: Innovations to Be Grateful For

As Thanksgiving nears, many of us are thinking about the people for whom we are truly grateful. This is also a great time to appreciate some of the life-changing innovations that we now take for granted – from music to medicine. We hope you enjoy this little trip down Memory Lane, and we hope you know how grateful we are to all of our clients, team members, and vendors who make up the SRS family!

Thank you!

4816S_Blog Timeline_L2A

What are you grateful for?


10 Crucial Questions to Ask EHR References

5 Star RatingToday, we are used to searching for references for everything from restaurants and hotels, to clothing labels and wearable fitness technology. Whether you are planning a party or searching for a new physician, gathering a handful of reviews can help inform your selection.

Collecting EHR references is one of the most critical steps in the EHR search process. To ensure your reference gathering is as effective as possible, make sure several members of your staff are onboard. If each employee makes a few calls, the interview process will not require a large time commitment from any one of them.

Second, both administrative staff and physicians should call and speak to several of their peers at the reference sites to collect a variety of different perspectives and opinions.

Finally, don’t just call the references provided by the vendors—find other practices using the EHRs you are considering by joining professional society listservs such as MGMA’s and AAOE’s.

Once you’ve collected 10 references of similar size within your specialty from each EHR vendor—along with a few practices that weren’t provided by the vendors—ask each reference these 10 crucial questions:

  1. When did you install your current EHR?
  2. How long was the installation/implementation process?
  3. How would you describe the installation/implementation process?
  4. Was the system as easy to use as it appeared to be during the software demonstration?
  5. How has your patient volume changed?
  6. Approximately how much more time do you devote to entering exam data into your EHR as compared to how you documented exams before you began using this EHR?
  7. What percentage of your exam notes are fully-templated?
  8. Do you like the quality of the exam note generated by your current EHR? Does it represent you well?
  9. How have your patient interactions changed?
  10. Would you recommend your EHR to a similar practice?

Asking these questions will give you a clear indication of whether or not a specific vendor will be able to deliver the success you expect from your EHR implementation.

Keep this “cheat sheet” of reference questions handy throughout your EHR search process. It will prove invaluable and provide you with the information you need to save yourself from a potential mistake.

What are some additional questions you would ask of references?

Don’t Be Fooled by Costumes, Tricks, or Treats…

Without These 5 Essentials Your EHR Experience Could Be Scary :O

Walk down almost any street on Halloween and you’ll be greeted by scores of people dressed in costumes. The outward appearance of these revelers is very different from what you find once the mask comes off. The same can happen when you see an EHR demonstration. There are so many things to focus on during the demo that you might be distracted from the most important points. Is it usable? Can it accommodate different workflow styles and data capture needs? And, can it be implemented without sacrificing practice-wide productivity? Although extras bells and whistles can make impressive costumes, they won’t guarantee EHR success.

How do you know if an EHR is a Trick or a Treat?

Beware of:

1-mouse-4568617_s1. Things that go click, click, click in the night. The number of clicks it takes to perform basic functions—such as submitting electronic prescriptions, reviewing basic chart information, or documenting patient exams—is crucial when selecting an EHR system. If the system requires numerous clicks in order to navigate the software and enter clinical information during the patient encounter, and toggle back and forth between applications then the EHR will significantly decrease physician and practice productivity, negatively impacting both revenue generation and patient care.

2-masks-scary-23134188_s2. The legend of one size fits all. The EHR should be flexible enough to serve your specialty, and your unique style of practicing medicine. Your EHR shouldn’t dictate your workflow, rather it should be flexible enough to accommodate many styles, and data capture goals. Knowing how, when, where, and by whom data is entered into the EHR is critical. If the EHR does not provide the flexibility to adapt to and help you improve your current process, then it may not be the right EHR for you.


3. Losing your way in a house of horrors. We’ve all heard EHR template horror stories about going through a long data input maze only to learn that you missed something and can’t escape without losing all of your work. Rather than suffering the same fate, ask references how flexible and easy the system is to use, and how many hours it took them to become confident with the system. If the other users quote an excessive number of training hours or your staff has trouble learning the software during a demonstration, the system is most likely not usable and therefore will be difficult to implement, and never be fully integrated into your practice.

5-skull-42284534_s4. Alternate realities. Other applications and office technologies should easily integrate into the EHR and be viewable within the same screen. There should be little to no toggling back and forth between application realities—it is inefficient, wastes time, and resources.

4-nightmare-28218534_s5. Recurring nightmares. Navigating, entering data, and generating reports in the EHR should be quick and easy. Diagnostic test results and transcriptions should automatically route into each patient’s digital record. Every paper process (or automated process if you currently have an EHR) that exists in your practice should be replaced by a superior automated process that frees up the physicians’ and staff’s time and allows them to focus their attention on patients.

Avoid these monsters—ensure all physicians and practice staff are included in the selection process—workflow, data requirement, and training time vary among the different departments and staff members. Remember, the EHR you purchase should enhance efficiency, workflow, and productivity throughout the practice. If it doesn’t, then it will not deliver all the benefits that “the right” EHR could bring to your practice. You might even consider your EHR a treat :D

Science Friction

Innovation ExpoWhen I was growing up, Star Trek was the vision for the future of technology: intergalactic travel, teleportation, and tools that helped doctors heal instantaneously were portrayed as de rigueur. Here in 2015, technology has not quite caught up with the starship Enterprise crew—and while medical advancements since the sci-fi series’ 1966 launch date are extraordinary, there are modern-day tools that can hinder almost as much as they help. That’s science friction, and it can get in the way of the doctor-patient encounter. Is it possible to help physicians reap the benefits of HIT while maintaining the human nuances that define the art of medicine? We think so. That’s our mission at SRS.

We shared our Mission and Vision earlier this month at our annual User Summit, and we received such positive feedback from our clients that I thought I should share it here as well. I’ve been here just over a year, and I am so excited about what has happened during that time—and even more so about what we have planned for the not-too-distant future.

Our Mission is our PACT: Passion, Accountability, Collaboration, Transparency. Far more than just a clever acronym, these core values empower us to deliver on our mission to advance healthcare by providing HIT solutions that allow providers to deliver outstanding specialized patient care. Our Vision is to be the premier HIT solutions partner for specialty practices, and ultimately advance healthcare by introducing frictionless HIT solutions… constant commitment to our core values ensures that we preserve the individuality of specialty practices by designing and implementing innovative HIT solutions that support their unique goals.

Frictionless. This clarity of purpose is deeply routed in what we heard from our clients at last year’s User Summit. Specialty practices agreed with our guiding principles—improve practice productivity, demonstrate clinical quality, increase speed and value of reimbursements, and meet government regulations—but we heard their frustration about HIT getting in the way of their patient encounters. Patients need to be able to look their doctors in the eye—not stare at the back of their heads as they click away on a computer.

So we have adjusted our course. Now, protecting the doctor-patient relationship is our North Star, and our innovative team is literally developing the HIT solutions of the future. Of course, our commitment to productivity, quality, value, and meeting governmental regulations remains steadfast, but our technology will be adding value without subtracting it from the human side.

Those who attended the Innovation Expo at our User Summit got a sneak peek at things to come—and their reactions were otherworldly. We hope yours will be too.

Beam me up,
Scott(y) Ciccarelli

What’s your dream for the future?

New World, New Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

new-world-blogI am not the first and will most certainly not be the last to discuss the shift from the fee-for-service model to the value-based model. Additionally, I do not claim to have any answers on where we will end up on the continuum between the two. What is obvious, however, is the fact that we need to begin looking at how we measure success today and how it will be measured tomorrow.

Most articles and studies today focus on large, complex health systems because they are at the forefront of the changes. Given the rocky start to programs like the 2-year-old CMS Pioneer ACO program—where 75% of participants failed to earn bonuses—the buzz on the shift to value is less than positive. So the question remains, how do we get ready for the shift and avoid the pitfalls seen by the health systems?

Change your KPI (Key Performance Indicator) perspective!

Practices today are very focused on cost reduction. As with any business, if you reduce unneeded costs, and maintain revenue, you increase profitability. Well, what if we translated that in the value-based world to Cost of Care? Imagine that you start this now and can soon prove that by reducing unneeded tests, prescribing generic drugs, and adding a rigorous pre- and post-surgery education program, your total Cost of Care is lower. This information could be used to gain bundled payment bonuses, not to mention the added benefits of cost reduction itself.

Other KPIs that should change are around patient access and engagement. Most practices have adopted the meaningful use benchmarks as their high-water mark for portal usage. However, we should change the conversation to true Patient Engagement. Rather than X% of providers sending a message to a patient or completing a VDT task (patients viewing, downloading or transmitting their clinical record), track the value added by your portal. Ask yourself if patients with a portal are more loyal? Do they add on more ancillary services that you provide? Do they refer more new patients to your practice? Do they have a better pre- and post-surgery experience? Aside from these more qualitative measure that can increase value, you can track cycle times for clinical and non-clinical processes, which directly impact costs to you in terms of staff time.

Last but not least is something that health systems already track but that can be adapted to the specialty ambulatory setting, Capture Rate. This is the portion of the patient’s total care that is captured by your practice. This means driving adoption of “other” services or simply grabbing market share. This KPI can be driven up by providing advanced access. This may mean having a percentage of the schedule open for on-demand access, or adding e-visits, or expanding hours. You can dovetail this with a portal to provide a more self-serve model. The concept here is that if you can provide more of the touch points in your practices, you can reduce costs along the continuum of care.

Experiment, Adjust, and Communicate.

Defining your KPIs is the first step towards creating a measurable improvement. While the ones above are some suggestions, your team may come up with more targeted KPIs based on your practice goals. A few quick tips as you go forward.

  1. Keep it simple – KPIs are not about data for the sake of data. Pick 1 or 2 and experiment.
  2. Be ready to pivot – We learn the most from mistakes and there is nothing wrong with changing course when you have more data.
  3. Consider both short- and long-term goals – Don’t try to jump to 100% value-based KPIs in 1 step.
  4. Communicate! – The biggest mistake you can make is not involving your entire organization. The full team must understand the end goal and then progress toward it. Nothing kills an initiative like the lack of a sense of ownership.

What are your teams doing to get ready for the shift to the value-based model? Do you have KPIs that you’d like to share?

Patient Engagement: Build a Strategy for Patient Empowerment

dr-patient-selfie-42511727_sRemember the days when the provider-patient relationship was centered primarily on the interactions that occurred during a visit? Whether it was in the exam room, over the phone or at the hospital, these were the places where the provider-patient relationship was built. Now, patient care encompasses more than just the traditional office visit and a physician’s bedside manner. A lot more emphasis is being placed on the patients—engaging and empowering them to partner in the healthcare process.

Patient Engagement is a hot topic in healthcare – a quick google search and you’ll come up with countless references to infographics, successful approaches, and tools to help build a patient engagement strategy. You will also find articles that discuss how patient engagement can have positive effects on improved quality of care and patient outcomes. The frameworks vary from simplistic to more complex, but the common theme is partnering with your patients and building ownership of their health and healthcare. Some examples of an effective PE strategy include: providing patient-specific education, making patients’ health information available online, including the patient in developing care plans and coordinating with other caregivers.

With an increased focus on patient engagement and interoperability incorporated in Meaningful Use Stage 2, many of these suggested practices can be accomplished using your EHR. Although many providers are anxiously awaiting the Final Rule Modifying MU Stage 2 in 2015 – 2017 and hoping for lower thresholds on the patient engagement measures like Patient Electronic Access and Secure Messaging, it is safe to say these measures are here to stay and will have increasing threshold(s) over the next few years.

So if there was ever a time to start building or improving upon your engagement strategy – the time is now! Whether you go at it on your own or use your EHR to help accomplish these goals the resources are abundant. What will your strategy include? Maybe you’ve been actively engaging patients for years and have some best practices to share. What helps to empower your patients?

Choose a Partner, Not a Vendor

tree-blog2In today’s day and age, we are all guilty of looking for instant gratification. When we shop, we want same-day shipping, or we want it to be in stock so we can pick it up. To make matters worse, we can get the same product from 100 different vendors. So if Widget World doesn’t get it to me fast or cheap enough, I’ll just get it from These buying trends force vendors to compete on price alone and reduce the quality of the buying experience and service.

When you are buying a 60 inch TV or a laptop, it’s a non-issue, but is this mentality flowing through into your business decisions? If you are looking for HIT solutions, you’ve no doubt seen that most vendors are starting to sound the same, look the same, claim the same benefits and are simply competing on price and how fast they say they can get you up and running.

I believe we should go back to the days of partnerships! A partner makes the effort to understand the problems that your business faces. They consult with you in order to ensure their solutions meet your needs. Partners value the relationship more than getting you to sign the next contract.

You don’t want another HIT vendor, you want a partner. Partners are the better choice!

  • Their success is your success- they’re not just in it for a quick sale. They’re truly invested in your practice’s growth and success, and will continually offer you meaningful guidance and resources.
  • Your visions align- their mission matches your practice goals. An HIT partner who shares your vision will offer more benefits with stronger and longer lasting relationships.
  • Your voice matters- collaboration, sharing of insights, and engagement is important to them. Your involvement is genuinely valued, and they’ll listen and will take action to improve their products or services based on your feedback because they have your interest in mind.

Let’s face it, what I’m suggesting is not rocket science and yet I often see relationships as a distant second to immediacy. I urge you to stop, take a breath and think. When I have a need, can I call someone that knows my practice? If an issue needs escalation, can I get to second or third level management? Can I have a conversation with the Executive team when I have a question about their vision or direction?

If you need the answers above to be “YES”, make sure you find a partner.

What’s your criteria for choosing a partner?