Different Benefits of EMR Implementation

By CIOReview | Friday, August 5, 2016
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The advancement of technology has changed the way the entire business world functions, including the healthcare. Electronic medical records, or EMR’s are used by various hospital and physician’s office in the United States. Electronic medical record means that a patient’s paper chart, which is what contains all of their medical history, information on medical conditions, treatments, and other types of information, are all stored electronically. It has been a great asset to the medical community, but has brought some pretty hefty issues right along with it too.

Which is why prior to the adoption of an EMR system healthcare provider needs to know whether spending on an EMR is worth a dime.

Advantages of Wielding an EMR system

Security: Security has been a business-critical criterion for healthcare executives as tons of patients’ sensitive data are generated each time when a patient or clinician checks-in. Securing such sensitive data for future purpose or review is vital and a complicated work.

To secure such data, legislature governing bodies—HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) builds lawsuits, which penalizes for revealing personal medical data for an EMR dedicated healthcare system.

Identifying the Patients: Safety of patients is the cornerstone of any healthcare institution. EMR offers high level of safety to patients by identifying the patients who need care. It reminds patients about their medication prescribed by doctor which has to be taken on a given time. EMR system also alerts doctors on the patient’s allergies to a particular prescription.

Staff Training: In the study conducted at UC Davis Graduate School of Management for Physician’s Productivity, more than 100 physicians from three primary areas—internal medicine, pediatrics, and family care—were taken and provided with EMR technology. All the departments initially saw loss in physician productivity which in some cases was as high as 33 percent. However, as time passed, internal medicine staff increased their productivity to a rate slightly higher than before.

To optimize productivity of a healthcare institution, nurses, physicians, patients and other processes, related individuals must be trained well about the EMR system that has been deployed. Some EMR vendors offer flexible training—such as webinars, sessions, and manuals.

E-prescription: What if physician’s notes or prescribed medicine from doctor gets misplaced? Or the page from a patient’s file is lost. Patients do not have to worry at such circumstances as EMR features an e-prescription option wherein doctors or physicians can write and save the prescription in an electronic file format that is readable and easily retrievable.

Order and Review test reports: The portability and accessibility of test reports has been made simpler in an EMR system. Patients do not have to carry or visit labs for reports anymore, and doctors can get reports by tapping onto the patient’s case history, which are uploaded and saved in a digital file format.

High retention period: EMR storage devices are designed for long-term retention period, and their sustainability remains unscathed while implementing any new technologies. The consistency of the EMR storage device can be checked by conducting regular audits. Even clinicians and other EMR healthcare enthusiasts can opt for contractual arrangements with long-term archival providers or get an insurance that would pay for long-term storage.

Data backups: A HIPAA-compliant EMR system offers data with a backup and recovery plan on a daily basis. The HIPAA regulation demands a backup and recovery system at an offsite location to avoid disaster failure. EMR backup can be performed onsite using external hard-drives, CDs and DVDs. Third party vendors provide backup and recovery of the data in times of such failures. In the market, there are web based EMR that provides an automated backup option with software directly installed on the server, which eliminates human involvement.

Scalability: With large amount of data flowing into the system, it is essential that all the data are organized systematically and stored in a repository, which has large scalability. Onsite storage is very hectic for some of the healthcare clinicians or doctors as they would require involvement of an IT management system. But this is not the case with the EMR systems. Some of the healthcare EMR solution providers—e-MDs, Allscripts, NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, GE Healthcare solution—adapt well with outsourced service environments. This EMR scalability eases doctor’s and other physician’s effort of deploying large workforce and hardware for data storage.

Meaningful use compliant: A ‘meaningful use’ EMR helps healthcare providers to earn incentives from the government by qualifying for Federal EHR Incentive Payments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Under this incentive funding act, Medicaid and Medicare programs are offered to healthcare providers, which require ‘meaningful use’ of an EMR system and accredited by a recognized certification.

Streamlined Workflow: Once users get handy with the EMR system, data flows automatically into the EMR storage system. Additionally, an EMR compliant with the HIPAA standards—ANSI 5010 claims submission standard and ICD-9 to ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure coding—eases the process of updating necessary changes which can be performed programmatically and automatically. Further, EMR allows integration with the insurance payment systems, enabling easy and efficient submission of claims.

Cost benefits: Worried about Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)? The TCO for an EMR proves to be favorable when these expenses are compared with that of the staff costs, and real estate costs—storage place for paper records. Characterizing automatic storage and retrieval functions, an EMR-powered healthcare reduces cost of administration, transcriptionist, billing and receptionists and many more. For instance, a study by University of California found that some of the physicians saved upto $20,000 per year through the implementation of EMR/ EHR.

Look before you Leap

Along with the advantages of an EMR adoption, physicians and doctors need to understand the interoperability downsides that other healthcare providers are facing. The study of such cases may help in resolving these downsides and help in successful implementation of an EMR system.

Difficulty in customizing order sets to patients: Programming situational choices has made it difficult for healthcare providers in customizing order sets for in-patients. This is because functional periodicity varies between units and wards—providing order sets for such a simple task require great effort.

Data mart problem: The creation of data mart from the modern database requires a smooth transmitting process from each data slices to patients or doctors. Additionally, such work becomes time consuming and costly for an EMR owner. For instance, it is like building a data mart for each department—heart failure, pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, oncology and many more.

Immature text search: The ICD-9 and other developed codes fail to uncover the details of the patients through the text search function of EMR software. This has made searching the texts very difficult, and time consuming for physicians, resulting in decrease in productivity. So it becomes important for physicians to understand the architecture of the EMR system.