by Steven Hastert
| October 02, 2012 | EMR/EHR
The 2014 mandate for medical practices to convert to electronic medical records (EMR) is creeping up on us. Any practice that fails to show meaningful use of EMRs will see their medicare and medicaid payments reduced. This is a strong inducement for most doctors.
As with any project a lot of forethought will help the project go smoothly. This reduces stress on the staff, improves patient care, and close to the heart of every office manager — saves money.
One step that can not be overlooked is the choice of electronic document management system. It is the backbone of EMRs. This is the decision that will have the longest impact on the project and is likely the greatest expense.
The hard part is there are no hard standards for the formatting of EMRs. This increases the amount of homework that you need to do before making a decision. It is important to avoid any proprietary formats that will make your system obsolete faster. It may also make data sharing more difficult.
The two most important things your medical record management system need to do:
1) Improve the workflow of the office
There are multiple ways to use the system. We are in a transition from traditional workstations in every room to tablet devices. Tablets have the advantage of requiring less hardware but some offices are uncomfortable with using WiFi for sharing data.
Some people also prefer the ability to use a full keyboard but this is most commonly solved by having a workstation available for more detailed charting or patients.
2) Protect patient data
The second thing that the electronic document management system must do is protect patient information. The Department of Health and Human Services is becoming more aggressive in targeting HIPAA violations.
Any system should keep all personal health information (PHI) secure. One place that data is often lost is from missing data backup tapes. When using backup tapes a better solution is to use a tape rotation service. This prevents employees from leaving tapes in cars on the way home or left on trains (yea, the British government made this mistake with private information.)