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Why Scan Your Medical Records: The Lost Time

Scanning your medical records is imperative. With profit margins continuing to get smaller in medical practices it’s important to increase efficiency in all areas.  Streamlined management of medical records and the process of digitizing them is one key component of creating a leaner, more cost effective practice.

The time lost spent going from one location to another trying to find a particular page in a patient’s chart is something that many office managers and doctors forget to think about.  I have worked in a medical practice where there were 5 separate locations within the office that I had to go searching through to find a patient’s file. I can’t even tell you how many times a day I would go looking for a chart, only to find that was not in the filing room where it was suppose to be. By scanning your medical records and putting them onto your system you can find that patient’s file within seconds by typing in the patient’s name on the computer.

Time is such a precious resource for medical doctors and their practices.  There is only so much time in a day and so many patients that can be seen by one doctor.  Eliminating the physical aspect of searching for files by scanning your medical records is one key to improving the efficiency of your practice.

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Stimulus Incentives

Stimulus Incentives- Medicare

  • Am I eligible?: To qualify, you must be a physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, or chiropractor (limited) and be a non-hospital provider caring for Medicare patients.
  • When should I start?: First year payouts require meaningful use of EMR to be implemented by 1/1/2011. For each subsequent year, meaningful use must be proven by the first of January to receive incentives for that year. This means that practices should begin EMR implementation with regards to meaningful use at least 10-12 months before the year they wish to be eligible. The processes of training and installing EMR and demonstrating and reporting on meaningful use will vary by practice- the bigger your practice, the earlier you should begin.
  • When will I receive my payments?: As of July 13th, 2010, payments are scheduled to begin in May of 2011.
  • What should I know about payments?: Not everyone will receive the exact incentive payments listed in the table below. Incentives are based on 75% of allowable Medicare charges. So, for example, a practice that bills $20,000 in allowable charges will receive $15,000 in incentives in 2011 (assuming they have demonstrated meaningful use by 1/1/2011). Only those that bill $24,000 or more of allowable charges annually will receive the full $18,000 in 2011.
  • What about penalties?: Penalties begin in 2015 for practices that have not adopted a certified EMR in a meaningful way. These penalties increase with each subsequent year and fee schedules will be reduced as follows: [Read more…]

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Electronic Medical Record Systems for Obstetrics and Gynecology

Remember your last trip to the dentist. The reclined, squeaky-leather chair, the beaming glow of the overhead light, the little swiveling sink off to the side, the dentist or dental hygienist rummaging through their small tray of various instruments; the angled mirror, periodontal probe, and, if you were really unfortunate, the dreaded drill. Now, take a moment to recall your last visit to your general practitioner. You most likely sat in a relatively bare room- save for a paper-lined, flat bed, a stethoscope, and perhaps a sphygmomanometer. It isn’t difficult to see why the two offices look so unique- different fields require different tools of the trade. What works for one, will not necessarily work for the other.

Obviously, every field of medicine is unique. The procedures, frequency of visits, implementation of care, amongst other things, all represent variables that affect how different practices are run. It should follow then that EMR systems have different functionalities and features to address these core differences. The current one-size-fits-all approach to EMR systems fails to recognize and appreciate how these differences can affect their meaningful use and effectiveness in the workplace.

Obstetrics and gynecology represent one field that requires individual EMR system functionality in order to effectively manage patient data. OB/GYNs are unique in that they are both a medical and surgical specialty, they are hospital and office-based, and they require different data and image displays than other medical or surgical disciplines. Practitioners of obstetrics and gynecology are currently feeling pressured to adopt systems that don’t address their needs in a meaningful way, and as a result are reluctant to make the switch. [Read more…]

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EMR in the US

According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation only 28 percent of primary care physicians in the United States are currently using electronic health records (EHRs).  However, the February 17, 2009 signing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act promises to change all that. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 90 percent of doctors and 70 percent of hospitals will adopt comprehensive electronic health records within the next ten years as a result of the act.

Due to financial limitations,, lack of confidence in overall effectiveness  and concerns regarding the proper implementation of EHRs use have seen slow growth in the United States. This is compounded by the government’s laissez-faire approach in regards to the adaptation of electronic systems. Lacking financial and informational resources as well as incentives physicians and hospitals have overwhelmingly placed the adoption of EHRs on the back-burner. However, the passing of the HITECH Act represents a fundamental change in governmental involvement in the issue and is indicative of a vast restructuring of U.S. health care as we currently know it. [Read more…]

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