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-lost-in-house-45243929_s

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 😀

Choose a Partner, Not a Vendor

Lester Parada

Lester Parada

Director of Professional Services at SRS Health
Lester Parada is the Director of Professional Services overseeing the Implementation, Training & Consulting and Forms teams. He has a background in business development, product management, project management and client relations. His passion lies in maximizing client value by optimizing workflows and technology.Lester is a certified PMP, SCM and CSPO and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.
Lester Parada

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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 MyWidgets.com. 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?

What is all this talk about “The Cloud?”

Christopher Locke

Christopher Locke

Manager, Software Packaging and Releases, Software Development at SRS Health
Prior to joining SRS over 6 years ago, Chris was an installation technician for IBM providing hardware and software services. Over the past 20 years, Chris has used his automation expertise for software packaging and deployment, as well as software development process automation. He currently oversees all releases, cloud deployments, and installation packaging at SRS. In his free time, you will find Chris attempting some form of home remodeling in between his family's sports activities.
Christopher Locke

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cloud-gears-blogOver the past several years, you probably have heard people talking about “The Cloud.”  It sounds very exciting and mysterious! You may have thought:

What is The Cloud?
Am I in The Cloud?
How can I use this whole Cloud thingy?
I want to be in The Cloud!

Let’s see if we can ’demistify’ Cloud-computing and put your mind at ease. In its simplest form, Cloud computing is the centralized sharing of applications, services, data, and resources from a variety of computing devices. What that means is, anything you do on your device is stored somewhere other than in the device itself. Think of The Cloud as a central repository for e-mail, photos, videos, and other data that you can access using the Internet. A Cloud computing company is keeping your data safe and sound for you, so you don’t have to carry around bulky hardware or worry about setting up security solutions. The Cloud also allows you to share or collaborate.

Still confused?

What if I told you that you probably use The Cloud all day, every day? Some simple examples of Cloud- computing include applications like Facebook and LinkedIn, services like Gmail and Twitter, resources like Wikipedia or Google, and all kinds of data. For most of us, every time we snap a selfie, it is stored in The Cloud. All of these aspects of Cloud computing are available to us on almost all of our devices. We can share our personal pictures, videos, and e-mail on all of our laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even our watches!

So how does SRS use The Cloud?

You may be surprised at the answer. Every time you load your main dashboard, shared Cloud resources put together the screen to display your requested data. Every Rx transaction is routed through the SRS eRx Pipeline to be analyzed and submitted for the patient and communicated with the pharmacy. Every ICD-9, ICD-10, or HCPCS code is selected from a shared Cloud data resource. Patient data files are transferred through a routing system called CCX. The SRS Patient Portals are complex Cloud applications offering data to patients whenever and wherever they request it. The benefits of Cloud computing are endless.

So the next time someone mentions “The Cloud” you can confidently respond: “I am all about The Cloud!”

CMS Offers Welcome Relief for Transition to ICD-10

Lynn Scheps

Lynn Scheps

VP, Government Affairs & Consulting Services at SRS Health
Lynn Scheps is a leading resource on MACRA, MIPS, and Meaningful Use. She is the SRS liaison with government policy makers. Representing the voice of specialists and other high-performance physicians, she develops strategies to respond effectively to government initiatives.
Lynn Scheps

reliefIt’s time for those still advocating a delay of ICD-10 to abandon the fight—but they can take heart in the recent concessions offered by CMS. The AMA, concerned about the complexity of ICD-10, has asked for some measure of protection from potential adverse financial impacts of the transition to the new code set, and CMS recently agreed to a one-year compromise.

Recognizing the challenges for providers, CMS has agreed:

  • Not to deny claims based on the (lack of, or incorrect) specificity of the ICD-10 code, as long as the reported code is a valid code from the right family of codes.
  • Not to subject providers to penalties under 2015 quality reporting programs, (Meaningful Use, PQRS, or the Value-Based Payment Modifier), as long as a valid code from the right family is reported for the measure(s).
  • To create an ICD-10 Ombudsman to help negotiate solutions to ICD-10 related problems.

CMS has also acknowledged realistic challenges on its side, and is insulating providers from resulting financial harm by agreeing:

  • To authorize advance payments if Medicare contractors are unable to process claims in a timely fashion (as defined by CMS) due to problems with ICD-10.
  • Not to penalize providers under MU, PQRS, or the V-BPM if CMS “experiences difficulty calculating the quality scores.”

You can read about the above in CMS’ own words in its FAQ document.

Notwithstanding the above, it’s time to get serious about preparing for the transition to ICD-10, if you have not already begun that process. Fortunately, there are some ICD-10 solutions embedded in EHRs and PM systems that make code selection easier than others, but regardless of the particular system you employ, there is a learning curve for physicians, clinical teams, and billing staff members.

Cultivating Innovation – One Hack at a Time

Ryan Newsome

Ryan Newsome

Vice President of Software Engineering at SRS Health
Prior to joining SRS almost 10 years ago, Ryan started his career as a software engineer for Map Info/Pitney Bowes. Throughout the years Ryan has been an expert in all things web, interoperability, and in agile leadership. He currently oversees all of product engineering at SRS and has led SRS’ transition to an Agile/Scrum Development Methodology. In his free time, you can find Ryan either skiing, cycling or spending time with his family. Fun Fact: Ryan played Division 1 Soccer at Sienna where he attended on a scholarship. Goal!
Ryan Newsome

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HackathonNo lazy hazy days of summer for SRS. This week SRS is hosting its inaugural annual Summer Hackathon. What is a hackathon? A hackathon is an event for computer engineers, programmers, designers, and other creatives from across the company to collaborate in the design and build of new products and/or features within a finite amount of time. The word hackathon is a portmanteau of the words “hack” and “marathon.” “Hack” is used in the sense of exploratory programming activities, and “marathon” is used to convey the intensity, competiveness, and focus required to deliver a working solution in a short period of time.

So why hack? These intense tech benders create a venue for self-expression, creativity, and innovation leveraging technology and collaboration. It allows us to approach challenges differently, which can result in innovative ideas and solutions to existing and future problems in healthcare. In fact, hackathon ideas often turn into real-world products and features.

The theme for this year’s Summer Hackathon is based on healthcare productivity. We received over 40 ideas from across the organization—ranging from existing product line enhancements to new product lines based on emerging industry trends. Out of all the ideas submitted, the product development team has selected 15 ideas to pursue. Each team will demo their concepts in a “science fair” style format at the conclusion of the event. Prizes and recognition will be awarded based on presentation, creativity, and impact on healthcare productivity.

The team is very excited about our first hackathon. We believe investing in innovation is paramount to our clients’ success, and leveraging tools like hackathons to foster and cultivate innovation will ultimately provide premier creative solutions that will drive value for our clients and their patients.

It all starts with an idea… any ideas to share?

Doctors: Not a Jack of all Trades… A Master of One!

Helene Kaiden

Helene Kaiden

Vice President, Marketing at SRS Health
Helene Kaiden is the Vice President of Marketing for SRS, with responsibility for building brand awareness, educating the marketplace, and driving sales opportunities. Helene’s team of creative marketing professionals has a charter that includes marketing strategy and programs, product positioning, digital marketing, conferences, and analytics. Helene’s powerful commitment to excellence and dedication to helping clients address their medical-practice challenges drives her messaging strategies.

Helene received a Bachelor’s degree in Consumer Economics from Cornell University, with a concentration in Business Management. She has over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing roles.
Helene Kaiden

Doctors: Not a Jack of all Trades… A Master of One!As the leader of a high-performance marketing team, I strive to stay abreast of the latest developments and best practices in the HIT industry and my chosen profession. But, no matter how prepared I am, I cannot be successful at what I do if I am expected to be an expert in every aspect of marketing. My expertise in leadership, building teams that excel, and developing professionals to reach their highest abilities, does not prepare me to be successful at writing HTML code, or designing graphics in the latest style. I need a team of experts to contribute their individual talents if we are to succeed.

This is even more apparent in the medical profession. In today’s world doctors are expected to not only be experts in their particular medical field, they are also expected to be experts in human resources, business management, and a plethora of other disciplines that serve their practice needs and government requirements. Besides earning an M.D., they practically need an M.B.A. in order to run a profitable and growing business. They also have to be policy analysts and experts to even have a chance of understanding the volumes of regulations the government has enacted and with which they’re expected to comply. In addition, they are expected to be IT specialists in order to meet data exchange and interoperability demands. And don’t even get me started on the statistical analysis required to understand outcomes and value-based reimbursements.

I expect that one of the reasons that doctors chose their profession in the first place was because they had a passion for science and service. So, to focus on the profession for which they have been educated and prepared, doctors need to find other experts to support them by focusing on the business of medicine.

It all comes down to one thing… the patient. In order to best serve your patients’ needs you must spend your time mastering the art of medicine, while letting your team of experts master the art of your business.

A final prognosis: building a strong team of experts will ensure the health of your patients and practice.

Where is your focus directed?

90-Day MU Reporting: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Lynn Scheps

Lynn Scheps

VP, Government Affairs & Consulting Services at SRS Health
Lynn Scheps is a leading resource on MACRA, MIPS, and Meaningful Use. She is the SRS liaison with government policy makers. Representing the voice of specialists and other high-performance physicians, she develops strategies to respond effectively to government initiatives.
Lynn Scheps

Rules & RegulationsJust as physicians were considering abandoning Meaningful Use and surrendering to future Medicare penalties, CMS issued a proposed rule for 2015 that breathes new life into the program. If full-year reporting was perceived as the insurmountable obstacle, the proposed reduction to a 90-day reporting period should recapture interest.

Although a proposed rule is not final until it is codified as a final rule—not anticipated until August—past experience has demonstrated that the major structural features typically survive as proposed. The shortened reporting period was announced as CMS’ intention in January and formally proposed last Friday. I think it is fair to say that one can be reasonably confident in this particular provision of the rule.

As for the other features of this proposed rule: In a former EMR Straight Talk post, I wrote, “Even more intriguing to me than the change in reporting period is . . . the intention to “modify other aspects of the program to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens.” CMS has come through in this regard and proposed changes for 2015 through 2017. The revisions encourage a focus on the advanced use of EHR technology to support health information exchange, consumer/patient engagement, public health reporting, and quality improvement. This is the narrowed focus that stakeholders, (including SRS on behalf of physicians), have been demanding since the program’s inception.

The following are some other highlights of the proposed rule for 2015 through 2017:

  1. Reporting would be streamlined: Many Stage 2 measures would not be individually reportable, particularly the paper-based or box-checking measures. Caveat: this does not, however, mean that the data would no longer be required–the information would still be necessary for the patient portal, for the summaries exchanged between providers, and for CQM reporting.
  2. Patient engagement measures would be dramatically revamped:
    • The threshold for “VDT”, (View, Download, or Transmit), would be reduced from 5% to “one patient.”
    • Secure messaging would have to “be enabled,” but there would be no threshold to meet.
  1. To simplify the overall MU structure for practices that have physicians in different stages, all physicians would report on the same measures—a modified set of Stage 2 requirements. Stage 1 providers, however, would be able to exclude measures which go beyond the requirements they were expecting to report.

If you want to ensure that the above changes are included in the final rule, submit a comment to CMS by June 15. CMS receives plenty of comments opposed to particular components of its rules, but specifically asks for positive comments on the features that stakeholders do support.