We just got back from a great weekend at the National Organization of Rheumatology Managers (NORM) Annual Conference. We had fun visiting with our current clients, meeting new prospects, networking, and eating. Rheumatology meetings are always well catered; if you ever attend one, be sure to bring your appetite. Amy Dee-Kristensen, a part-time nurse and motivational speaker, kicked off the first session with her speech entitled “Wave the White Flag – Surrender to and Embrace Change.”

Although not strictly clinical, she shared many humorous anecdotes from her own life that illustrated the need to embrace change. She promoted two basic philosophies: at least one good thing always comes from change, and our reaction to change depends upon our mental attitudes, which we control. Therefore, we should welcome change and focus on the positive aspects.

Amy’s message is exactly what those of us in healthcare need to hear. One thing is certain: between ICD-10, HIPAA 5010, Obamacare, and Meaningful Use, the healthcare industry is in store for a large dose of change. While not all of these changes will be positive, most experts agree that meaningful use and the push towards electronic health records will benefit patients and providers alike.

Implementing electronic health records will change your practice workflows, at least to a degree. Your practice will be rewarded with many benefits as a result. EHR can increase patient safety. For example, e-prescribing reduces medication errors through improved legibility, drug-drug, and drug-allergy interaction checking. Lab interfaces help track diagnostic test results and alert providers of abnormal tests. Automated reminders help follow up with patients for tests, procedures, and preventative screenings.

EHR benefits are not just clinical; many practices under-code to stay off the audit radar. Practices that switch to EHR see a 20% increase in revenue due to built-in code calculators that help providers bill at appropriate levels. This has allowed many of our physicians to work fewer hours while maintaining or even improving on their current revenues. Speaking of audits, EHR systems can be extremely helpful during an audit. Instead of scouring through pounds of paper charts, auditors can simply review your history notes. In many cases, you may not even need to print or copy anything.

If your practice has not yet implemented EHR, now is the time to wave the white flag and surrender to change. The government is offering money to practices willing to take the plunge. You could collect $18 to $20,000 in the first year alone for purchasing a certified EHR system. Right now there are close to 800 certified EHR systems on the market. Never before has there been so much competition amongst certified systems.

These market conditions will not last forever. Practices should get started soon to take advantage of the full stimulus money. Be sure to consider a custom EHR system that can grow with your practice and adapt to your needs as they change. Please let us know if we can help you in any way.

Ryan Ricks
Security Officer