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● Roundup: 2013 Forecast – EMRs/EHRs Integration, analytics key

to next-generation EMRs Industry experts discuss the year ahead in EMRs/EHRs. By Phil Colpas

D

espite the myriad and often complex ways of attempting to achieve it, the goal of healthcare reform is to improve care while decreasing cost. Incentives put in place as part of the HITECH

Act give reimbursements to physicians who convert from paper-based records to electronic medical records (EMRs) – although the ultimate cost savings of EMRs is still being disputed.

Especially for a small practice, the cost of purchasing and implementing an EMR system can be daunting. And although converting from paper-based records to electronic ones makes lo- gistical sense, it is diffi cult to determine its overall impact on cost or return on investment, since it is not directly tied to revenue. Although they’ve been around for about 30 years, usage of EMRs in the U.S. and Canada is up 50 percent since 2009, according to the Commonwealth Fund. But the rush to compli- ance often means attempting to make disparate systems work with each other. Combine this problem with antiquated core platforms, and the importance of interoperability and integra- tion becomes clear. Other issues include ease of use (a common complaint has been that EMRs reduce the face time doctors enjoy with pa- tients); security (keeping records in the “secure” cloud is often touted as a possible solution); and patient engagement (buoyed by connecting the EMR to a personal health record). For our fi rst issue of 2013, Health Management Technology asked industry experts to weigh in with their perspectives on the near future of EMRs/EHRs (electronic health records):

Howard Zahalsky, M.D., U.S. medical director, Activ Doctors Online T e provider as PHR proponent We in the medical community have been bantering back and forth about pros and cons of EMRs for years now. Some have long championed the transformation from paper to paperless and are thriving in the digital world. Others remain skeptical and frustrated, pointing to less-than-user-friendly technology. But until recently, personal health records (PHRs), the patient- centered companion to EMRs, have been at best a sideline

6 January 2013

conversation among most healthcare providers. T e limited focus on PHRs in the medical community is understandable, given that PHRs are “owned” by the patient, not the provider. But it’s a missed opportunity for providers to improve communications, increase patient engagement and compliance and boost patients’ “customer satisfaction” with their providers. When quality PHR and EMR platforms are properly linked

(interoperable) and supported by engaged patients and providers, outcomes can and do improve. For that reason alone, we need more providers to step up as PHR proponents in order to inspire more patients to get with the program. A study from the Markle Foundation highlights the value of PHRs to patients, and research fi ndings presented in the fall 2012 issue of Perspectives in Health Information Management, titled “T e Impact of Health Literacy on a Patient’s Decision to Adopt a Personal Health Record,” indicate that a broad spectrum of patients can use PHRs successfully. And it’s not just the right thing to do for patients, it’s also

a smart thing for providers to do to help achieve and exceed meaningful-use goals. Beyond that, the interoperable EMR/ PHR platform also creates a solid foundation for exploring new practice innovations, such as e-consults and other telemedicine options, which will play an increasing role in helping more Americans access care as the fi nal components of the Aff ordable Care Act are put in place.

Jay Deady, CEO, Awarepoint Corporation Real-time locating systems (RTLS) will maximize EMR investments T ere is no doubt that EMRs drive safer

care, improve quality and patient safety, and reduce duplication, costs and variability; they provide the data needed to care for the individual patient and do no harm. However, because EMRs are neither resource nor context aware, they’re limited in their ability to orchestrate care. EMRs cannot track interactions between caregivers and patients, provide the location of equipment and other assets, or identify the cause of extended patient wait times and other delays.

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com

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