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Electronic Health Record Implementation Top Challenges and Barriers to Adoption and Use

Electronic Health Record Implementation: Top Challenges and Barriers to Adoption and Use.

Nearly two decades after the emergence of EHRs, the healthcare landscape is seeing more modernization efforts and a noticeable shift towards the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Despite this substantial progress in implementing new technology in healthcare, the benefits realized in reality lag behind expectations as EHR adoption and implementation challenges persist. So, What was a primary barrier to the adoption and implementation of EHRs?

EHR Implementation- at What Cost? 

Costs of implementing EHR systems are reportedly one of the top barriers to EHR adoption especially for small to medium-sized practices with no large IT budget. Several studies estimate that the initial costs of purchasing and installing an EHR system range from $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. Additionally, adopting an EHR system in your practice is not a one-time investment.  There are different associated costs  – upfront and regular- that are necessary to reap EHR  benefits including, EHR hardware and software installation, implementation assistance, staff training, and ongoing network fees and maintenance. Having a strategic plan ahead with all these potential fees mapped out is a must for successful EHR implementation and maintenance. 

Lack of Interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) estimates that between 90% and 95% of hospitals and clinical offices have adopted an EHR system. Despite that, data silos remain a significant issue hindering Interoperability (the meaningful exchange and use of clinical data across health organizations electronically through interconnected Health Information Networks (HINs) to improve care coordination). 

 In fact,  results of the 2006 survey and roundtable discussions conducted by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) assigned  lack of interoperability a percentage of 50% in terms of the significance of this barrier to EHR use. The existence of a myriad of active, government-certified EHRs, all with different clinical terminologies, technical specifications, and functional customizations contributes to the lack of consistent standards and code sets. Thus, having one standard interoperability format across the healthcare continuum remains one of the most problematic issues with EHRs.

Finding a provider with the most interoperable system however can transform your entire practice. Using its experience of having fully integrated with The New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System (NJSAMS), Zoobook Systems can integrate with state databases or health information hubs to help clinical facilities’ processes run more efficiently.

Additionally, having voluntarily obtained the 2015 ONC-ACB certification from Drummond Labs, Zoobook offers the most interoperability while scoring high on  useability, security, and compliance.

Privacy and Security Concerns 

Whereas increased interoperability and easy flow of electronic patient records across the health spectrum has brought about improved patient care and engagement for many practices, adopting an EHR system comes with a myriad of new responsibilities of safeguarding patient information and upholding patients’ trust. In the context of behavioral health, for example, patients’ mental health information is of very sensitive nature and can be potentially damaging in case of any leakage or unauthorized access.

 

The reality is,  all electronic systems remain vulnerable to many security threats such as encryption blind spots, malware, phishing, cyber-attacks, etc. Thus, privacy and security issues of patients’ data constitute a major concern for clinicians and patients alike. However, as technology further develops,  health organizations continue to use that to their advantage and strive to meet HIPAA Privacy Rule and Security Rule requirements to protect their user’s data.

To that end, Zoobook Systems takes protecting patients’ data as a serious responsibility. Utilizing a secure data center and network architecture (Amazon AWS servers),  Zoobook is committed to protecting your privacy and  keeping your data safe, secure and compliant.

 

Zoobook’s 2015 ONC-ACB certification also implies better security for its customers including:

  • End-User Device Encryption
  • Trusted Connection
  • Integrity
  • Authentication, Access Control, Authorization
  • Auditable Events and Tamper-Resistance

 

Workflow Disruption

From data migration, choosing suitable EHR products and features, to staff training, transitioning from paper-based records to EHR or from one EHR system to another, it becomes clear that EHR implementation processes can be highly disruptive and tedious. The process of data migration, for example, requires moving large batches of data from paper charts or from an older EHR. Not only can this be time-consuming, but it also entails decreased patient admission and less efficient staff performance during the first phase of implementation. This can inevitably lead to losses in clinical productivity and affect revenue rates.

Lack of well-trained clinicians and staff that can lead this process is another issue that adds up to this.  Naturally, with a new EHR, comes a lot to learn and workflows and office protocols to adjust to. Thus, training of staff and all end users must be mandatory for a successful and smooth transition. This transition/learning period might result in a  temporary disruption of workflow for both clinical and administrative staff and possible consequent costs. However, having a good grasp of data migration processes, prioritizing training, and devoting significant staff time to the process can all be critical  determinants of the success of EHR implementation.

Above all, choosing the right vendor partner is crucial to minimize workflow disruptions while adopting or transitioning to a new EHR system. Built for clinicians and administrators by clinicians and administrators, Zoobook will work alongside you to ensure your system is built to your specifications, prepare you for a smooth system go-live and continue to provide support in every step of the way beyond go-live. 

Staff Resistance and De-motivation to Use EHRs

As with any process shift,  many staffs’ initial reaction to a new technology-based system is denial, demotivation and resistance  to change as one study suggests. 

Wondering what can be done to overcome resistance within your organization during EHR implementation ?

The Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology suggests the following measures to create a more receptive culture to EHR implementation:

  1. Identify the source of resistance to address  staff members  fears and misconceptions about EHRs and emphasizing EHR benefits.
  2. Involve all staff members in making decisions to reinforce the importance of participation of all end users in the EHR implementation process. 
  3. Reinforce the value of every member involved and provide support to those showing resistance.
  4. Address negative behaviors and to objectively negotiate your way  towards mutual understanding and gain.
  5. Listen Schedule regular power meetings to engage everyone in the organization and hear everyone’s opinion. 

 

The Bottom Line

As with any other process, EHR implementation is not a one-time episode, but rather an ongoing and multi-dimensional enterprise. Challenges facing EHR adoption  are not limited to the initial implementation phase but  can persist long after. Therefore, to realize the full potential of an EHR system, its adoption must be part of a well-designed plan that takes the above mentioned challenges into perspective and continuously works to monitor EHR functionality. This can be done  by  choosing a strong health IT vendor partner to assist your practice throughout the process and connect your efforts with positive outcomes. 

 

 

Telehealth Consulting

Data-driven Insights into the Impact of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since its emergence, COVID-19 has triggered a series of ongoing challenges for the healthcare system across the United States, exposing a number of core deficiencies. While the COVID-19 impact is undeniably devastating, crisis times can also be times for opportunities to highlight existing problems and unlock innovation. Mandatory social distancing, rising demand for care, and the increased cases and hospitalization have all contributed to pushing telehealth to the limelight as the safest, most convenient and interactive system between patients and clinicians in today’s novel complex setting.

Telehealth & Telemedicine: Technology Meets Healthcare

 

To begin with, it’s important that we define what telehealth and telemedicine mean in the context of this article.

While telehealth can simply refer to the remote provision of clinical care, it is also a broad term that encompasses all components of remote healthcare services. Telemedicine, a subset of telehealth, is defined as  “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration” according to the Office of National Coordination For Health Information Technology. Types of telemedicine services include video conferencing, mobile apps, remote patient monitoring devices, and electronic health information exchanges between a patient and a provider via email or instant messaging.

Using Telehealth During COVID19

What Are the Implications of Telehealth Adoption and Use for Health Systems and Independent Practices?

 

As part of the efforts to continue mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19, save on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and care for patients in a safe and effective way, came the urgent need to encourage both patients and providers to utilize telehealth services. Below is a list of the most significant temporary regulatory changes and new reimbursement models associated with telehealth use during COVID-19.

Regulatory Changes for More Flexibility

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the federal government have modified many regulations on the use of telehealth. In this context, The CARES Act comes with a set of loosened restrictions to expand the use of telehealth. These include:

  • The availability of telemedicine is no longer restricted to patients residing in remote areas. Patients across the country can receive  home telehealth services  in any setting.
  • Previously, providers were required to be licensed in the state where their patient is located. This requirement is  now temporarily waived, meaning that as long as a provider is licensed in their home state,  they can provide telehealth services from home across state lines. State restrictions may apply.
  • Clinicians can provide remote patient monitoring (RPM) services to both new and established patients.
  • CMS has  temporarily expanded the list of services  allowed during the pandemic while also making the delivery of some services via audio-only an option. A full list of allowed telehealth and audio-only services is available on the CMS website.
  • The CMS emergency regulatory waivers have taken a non-enforcement position in temporarily loosening HIPAA privacy standards which opens up the opportunity for a variety of non-telemedicine apps and technologies that support real-time audio-visual features. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in particular has stated that there will be no consequent enforcement discretion against providers opting for the use of apps such as Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime which previously did not comply with HIPAA regulations and security rules. This excludes any public facing communication services such as Facebook Live, TikTok, Twitch etc.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is now permitting clinicians to prescribe controlled substances based on telehealth visits during the pandemic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration similarly issued a set of guidelines around the provision of methadone and buprenorphine for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder during the COVID-19 emergency.

Improved Reimbursements

Prior to the COVID-19, reimbursement for telehealth and e-health services were only made available to patients in remote areas or in a limited set of circumstances and even then, the compensation rate was nothing near in-person visits. Following the national public health emergency, CMS has issued a waiver to temporarily expand coverage and reimbursement for telehealth services on a fee-for-service basis, meaning that providers will be reimbursed for both virtual and in-office visits at the same rates. Additionally, CMS has also announced increased payments for telephone visits rates from $14–41 to $46–110 per visit to match payment for office visits.

Is Telehealth Just a Pandemic Stopgap then?

 

Pre-pandemic, telehealth was primarily used to reach and provide care to patients in remote areas and rural regions to facilitate access to healthcare. The recent surge in telehealth, driven by the immediate need to avoid exposure to COVID-19, has expanded telehealth use throughout the U.S. While this may point to the idea that telehealth might just be a pandemic fad, statistics suggest otherwise. Telehealth is here to stay!

Mapping the trajectory of Telehealth since COVID-19:

 

The last week of March 2020 witnessed a significant increase in the number of telehealth visits compared to the same period in 2019. Since then, telehealth has been rapidly gaining popularity and acceptance from patients and practitioners alike.Mom-and-Daughter-using-Telehealth

Recent data shows that 57% of providers now view telemedicine more positively, and 64% revealed that they are more comfortable using telemedicine compared to pre-pandemic. These favorable attitudes have caused a significant number of healthcare providers of different sizes to have upscaled their telehealth offerings or adopted new remote technologies to their services list to meet patient needs.

On their part, patients have similarly expressed high levels of satisfaction with telehealth services across a wide range of health care needs.  A survey on patient perspective on virtual care revealed that 77% of patients surveyed were completely satisfied with the service they received through telemedicine and e-health services. In the same survey, 75% of respondents said that they expect telehealth as an option moving forward. Interestingly enough, 35% of patients would consider switching to a different provider  for telehealth visits according to The Harris Poll.

These numbers highly suggest a growing patient demand for use of telehealth, underscoring the need for healthcare institutions and practices to upscale their telehealth offerings to meet patients’ needs and expectations. 

Will the Telehealth Momentum Keep Going Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis?

 

Driven by growing demand for easy-to-access and round-the-clock services, the vision of healthcare in a post-COVID world is already beginning to take shape.  The increased adoption of telehealth services during the pandemic has given patients and providers a peek into the horizon of possibilities that technology can offer them. More than ever, patients now recognize the role of telehealth in improving and managing their personal health and it now has become an expectation that healthcare practices need to live up to. Given the favorable attitudes of both patients and providers, it is anticipated that telehealth will continue to be an instrumental component of healthcare and the next years will see hybrid models of care where telehealth works to complement in-person care depending on growth in funding, adoption, policymaking, and payment regulations.

 

As an EHR, Zoobook Systems comes with a telehealth app to help medical practitioners meet their patients from the comfort of their homes. Ready to start teleconsultations? Request a demo today

covid-19 telehealth programs

COVID-19 Telehealth Programs: FCC 2021 Relaunch

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced its rollout of the second round of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This $249.95 million federal initiative, that has new guidelines, stems from the 2020 $200 million program started by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

This FCC project “supports the efforts of health care providers to continue serving their patients by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (see docs.fcc.gov)

New parameters are set for 2021 so that instructions are clearer on how to qualify for reimbursements. Round 2 application and eligibility requirements are still similar to last year’s Round 1 conditions with some changes to make it swifter and more transparent. These changes include:

  • Rating applicants to be more rigorous. This highlights areas that were hit the hardest and segments that have lower income, and there will also be prioritization on Tribal communities and sectors with shortage of healthcare providers. 
  • “Equitable nationwide distribution of funding” (see docs.fcc.gov). The 2020 program only funded 47 states, with the exception of Hawaii, Alaska, and Montana. This year, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program will be more inclusive as there should be at least one applicant to receive funding from the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The abbreviation of application into seven days. This is different from last year where there were 14 rounds of granting awards. The tighter deadline seeks to improve the second round by placing all applicants in equal footing from the set deadline.
  • There will be two phases of awarding for swifter funding and to give more opportunities for applicants to qualify for the second phase through the better provision of information. 

For those considering to apply, it should also be noted that the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is a reimbursement program; it does not grant awards. To receive compensation, providers are required to submit invoice forms and other documentation on their telemedicine expenses.

In this pandemic, people are urged to stay home. Teleconsultation helps bring people to their health care providers without having to visit clinics or hospitals. And as visiting your doctor becomes more difficult, COVID-19 telehealth programs are essential in keeping people safe at home. As an EHR, Zoobook Systems comes with a telehealth app to help medical practitioners meet their patients from the comfort of their homes.

Ready to start teleconsultations? Request a demo today

ehr implementation challenges, ehr interoperability challenges, barriers to implementing electronic health records

Overcoming EHR Implementation Challenges Barriers to Implementing Electronic Health Records

Modernizing your health record system is a good investment. But as much as you want to upgrade, there can be some barriers to implementing electronic health records (EHR). From staff resistance, data migration, and EHR interoperability challenges, moving to digital records may have some roadblocks. So how do you curb EHR implementation challenges? You strategize. And here, we show you how.

 

Cost

Implementing an EHR system will help both your organization and your patients. Clinicians can see medical profiles easier and patients get easy access to their medical history. But before all these, there are some costs to be studied.

Selection, implementation, and optimization are just some of the considerations you need to review. You also need to take note of employee training, hardware installations, assistance in implementation, continuing network fees, and support. In preparing for an EHR comes the realization that it is not a one-time payment move. You have to allocate for maintenance fees in streamlining your data systems.

 

Staff Resistance

Hesitation is to be expected when there are changes in an environment. Transitioning into an EHR system is especially confusing as it is not only a modification in the system, but also a technological change. In most cases where there is reluctance, staff lack awareness about the comprehensive benefits of implementing an EHR.

Acceptance among staff members is something that can be raised to build trust in the new system. It may be slow, but steady implementation and comprehensive training aids in embracing technological advancement. Ensure your staff that their current practices may be improved with the new system. In fact, their work can be done faster and their workload becomes considerably lighter with an EHR. An important note is that the staff needs to understand that the incoming change will give rise to a better business model and uplifted job satisfaction.

 

Data Migration

Let’s set it straight—it’s going to be a logistical nightmare. Exporting paper-based documents to digital records is time-consuming and tedious, but there are strategies on how to ease into this change.

One gameplan is to prioritize records. Start with the most recent files until you get to the older ones. The EHR should at least have the most recent records of a patient. Until you get all records on the EHR, you can access older records traditionally.

Another plan of action is to assign a special EHR uploader. This will be your EHR point person who is responsible for syncing all files into the system. This way, you know someone is always on top of all things migration.

 

Interoperability

This pertains to the sharing of data, whether within the organization or with outside providers. The quality of your interoperability depends on your EHR provider. Make sure you choose a system with good interactivity and one that provides add-ons and customization to help with the exchange of your electronic medical records.

 

IT Health Experts Assistance

Communication with your IT health vendor should be continuous. Whenever you have concerns or feedback, your EHR provider should be able to assist you. Choose a supplier who you can easily access for updates, like Zoobook Systems. As your consultant who developed an EHR made for clinicians by clinicians, Zoobook collaborates with you and your stakeholders to fulfill your vision.

As there would be in any new endeavor, there will be barriers to implementing electronic health records. The good thing is, you can map out your way in maneuvering through EHR implementation challenges. Whether it be the cost of the system, resistance from the staff, migration hindrances, or EHR interoperability challenges, there’s always a way to come up with a good mitigation strategy.

EHR and patient safety

EHR and Patient Safety: What Improves with an Electronic Health Record

From appointment scheduling to prescription pickups, an electronic health record (EHR) helps with patient-relation processes. It may not be apparent, but this plays an important role in patient safety.

There’s a lot to learn about how EHR and patient safety work together, and here are four ways Zoobook Systems improve a patient’s safety.

 

Improved Decision Making

Medical conclusions need to be done with precision. With an EHR, clinicians see the full picture of their patient’s health. From test results, vital signs, lab results, and other diagnoses, a patient’s complete medical information is available at a glance.

Doctors and medical staff members can secure the safety of patients with an EHR’s accuracy with information. This is how they can come up with detailed diagnoses, treatment plans, and prescriptions more easily and with reduced errors.

 

Reduced Adverse Events

From medication to missed diagnoses, it is important for health care providers to minimize adverse events. Being non-discriminatory, EHRs promote patient safety by implementing a system that works for all medical staff.

Prescriptions, for example, are made with available standardized information of the patient’s allergies, current medication, and previous diagnoses. This prevents medication errors that may pose harm to a patient.

 

Enhanced Integrated Care

There is a risk of misinterpretation when a patient’s medical information is handed from one clinician to another. From doctors, nurses, radiologists, medical technicians, and administrative staff, it is important to have an organized system.

Coordination with different medical staff workers is improved with an EHR, making for safe integrated care. This creates a consolidated approach required by patients with chronic or complex cases, like those in behavioral health, mental health, and addiction treatment facilities, who need an overall health team.

 

Increased Patient Compliance Rate

Aside from scheduling follow-ups, homecare compliance is important in an ambulatory treatment plan. EHR systems have the option to send alerts and reminders to patients even when they are outside your facility. Whether it’s a prompt for their next appointment or a notification to purchase their prescription, an EHR aids in keeping patients safe with aftercare services.

 

Easy Access to Historical Information

With improved access to electronic health records, health care providers get a clearer view of a patient’s history. Instead of previous charts being locked away, an electronic system can retain a patient’s full history at the ready for clinicians and medical professionals to review and consult when making decisions.

Record systems improve when you get an EHR, and patient safety is just one of the things that advances with it. Choose an EHR that knows exactly what the patient needs and what is needed from a patient; choose an EHR made for clinicians by clinicians. Zoobook Systems is an insightful EHR that equips health care providers with all important patient information. This reduces medical error and improves record maintenance. 

 

Ready to minimize risks? Request a demo today.

The Pros and Cons of Electronic Medical Records

The EMR Debate: The Pros and Cons of Electronic Medical Records

Medical records administrators do a lot of work—from patient charting to medicine charting, and all the ancillary documentation, you can sometimes get lost in the paperwork. So what are the concerns and benefits of the public with adoption of the electronic health record (EHR)? Is transitioning from paper to electronic medical records (EMR) documentation worth it? Here, we list down some EHR/EMR pros and cons.

 

What are electronic medical records?

EMRs are the digital version of a patient’s record. This contains a patient’s medical and treatment history in a particular practice over time.

With electronic documentation, you are able to sort out patient care tasks efficiently. This includes scheduling appointments, arranging follow-ups, updating medical tests, and writing prescriptions.

You may also optimize usage of EMRs with EHR systems (see Differences Between EMR and EHR). For those in the behavioral health, mental health, and addiction sector, there is Zoobook.

 

What are the benefits of electronic medical records?

  1. With the standardization of files via EMR, access is streamlined making it more efficient to manage internal operations. There will also be fewer documentation errors in a patient’s file due to misspellings or illegible handwriting.
  2. Records are consolidated into one system with customizable features. Depending on your EHR, this may mean the patient’s medical history, billing information, and even staff member records are all kept in one place. 
  3. Backup systems are in place, making it less likely for files to be destroyed or lost.
  4. Since all the patient’s medical records are in one place, it’s hard to omit patient information, especially if you’re relaying details from one health worker to another.
  5. As you keep up with the digital world, medical information is more accessible for you and the patient. Passwords and other safety features help to secure patient privacy.

 

What are the disadvantages of electronic medical records?

  1. Time-consuming documentation processes might be why electronic medical records are bad. Converting paperwork into EMR can really take a lot of time. Choose an EHR with smart tools to help you with patient intake.  
  2. Not all the members of your staff can work a computer well. This is when user interface and user experience comes into place. Make sure you choose an EHR system that knows how clinicians work.
  3. With the switch from paper to digital, updating computer hardware may be more frequent. Some would think that this is what the greatest risk of facing electronic health records is. Is it a risk you’re willing to take to get all the above benefits?
  4. There can be configuration challenges such as being unable to create templates for each area of practice. It is best to have a system built specifically for your health sector.
  5. There’s a lot of money involved in upgrading from paper to EMR. Aside from upgrading hardware, there’s also the cost of the software. Make sure you choose one that can cater to your needs while keeping it in your budget.

With the advent of a modern solution, medical records administrators shouldn’t be burdened with the distress of patient charting, medicine charting, and other on-paper tasks. And although there are concerns, there are also benefits with public adoption of EMR. In going through this article of EMR pros and cons, there are definitely a lot of things to consider. But one thing’s for suretransitioning from paper to EMR is a lot easier with an EHR like Zoobook Systems.

 

Are you ready to go paperless?

EHR-and-Information-Blocking-Rule

EHR and Information Blocking Rules: A Prep Guide

The Information Blocking Rules are set to be implemented on April 5, and we have all that you need to know about the Cures Act Rule and Electronic Health Records (EHR).

There is a wide range of electronic health information (EHI) clinicians need to be able to provide to their patients in a standardized format through their EHR. This includes demographics, allergies, assessment information, lab results, progress notes, and discharge summaries, among other data. (see aoa.org)

And as the rule’s name implies, providers cannot intentionally withhold this information(see acponline.org). However, there are are eight exceptions to the rule (see ama-assn.org):

  1. Preventing harm exception – It will not be information blocking for an actor to engage in practices that are reasonable and necessary to prevent harm to a patient or another person, provided certain conditions are met.
  2. Privacy exception – It will not be information blocking if an actor does not fulfill a request to access, exchange, or use EHI in order to protect an individual’s privacy, provided certain conditions are met.
  3. Security exception – It will not be information blocking for an actor to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of EHI in order to protect the security of EHI, provided certain conditions are met.
  4. Infeasibility exception –  It will not be information blocking if an actor does not fulfill a request to access, exchange, or use EHI due to the infeasibility of the request, provided certain conditions are met.
  5. Health IT performance exception – It will not be information blocking for an actor to take reasonable and necessary measures to make health IT temporarily unavailable or to degrade the health IT’s performance for the benefit of the overall performance of the health IT, provided certain conditions are met.
  6. Content and manner exception – It will not be information blocking for an actor to limit the content of its response to a request to access, exchange, or use EHI or the manner in which it fulfills a request to access, exchange, or use EHI, provided certain conditions are met.
  7. Fees exception – It will not be information blocking for an actor to charge fees, including fees that result in a reasonable profit margin, for accessing, exchanging, or using EHI, provided certain conditions are met.
  8. Licensing exception – It will not be information blocking for an actor to license interoperability elements for EHI to be accessed, exchanged, or used, provided certain conditions are met.

Needless to say, this means that providers need to expand the process of how patients will receive their EHI. To best comply with the Information Blocking Rules, providers need an ONC-ACB certified EHR like Zoobook. Zoobook is prepared to support the above requirements of the Cures Act rules especially for behavioral health, mental health, and addiction treatment facilities.

As an EHR, Zoobook makes the work easier by putting all records in one safe place. It’s a smart tool that holds all essential EHI for you, and you can be sure that it’s easy to navigate for both you and your patients. These points help you comply with all Information Blocking Rules.

Want to learn more? Request a demo today

Differences between EMR and EHR

Differences Between EMR and EHR

You may have heard the acronyms EMR and EHR used synonymously, but do you know how they are different and why it is important?

An understanding of the differences between the terms electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) reveals the progress information technology (IT) has made within the healthcare industry. The technology that allowed providers to digitize health records was first referred to as an EMR.

The first IT systems were developed primarily for the medical industry to store thousands of medical records more efficiently by turning printed or written documents into digital copies. Today, EMR is an antiquated acronym representing the earlier developments in health information technology, while EHR is representative of the many modern advancements.

In 2004 the Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) was created “as a resource to the entire health system to support the adoption of health information technology and the promotion of nationwide health information exchange to improve health care” (healthit.gov). The ONC is mostly responsible for the increased use of EHR over EMR due to its coordinated effort to implement advanced health information technology and the exchange of health information nationwide.

The ONC distinguishes between EMR and EHR with the following description (see healthit.gov):

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digital versions of the paper charts in clinician offices, clinics, and hospitals. EMRs contain notes and information collected by and for the clinicians in that office, clinic, or hospital and are mostly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment. EMRs are more valuable than paper records because they enable providers to track data over time, identify patients for preventive visits and screenings, monitor patients, and improve healthcare quality.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are built to go beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office and are inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care. EHRs contain information from all the clinicians involved in a patient’s care and all authorized clinicians involved in a patient’s care can access the information to provide care to that patient. EHRs also share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists. EHRs follow patients – to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, or even across the country.

“Health” as opposed to “medical” is a much broader term that encompasses the breadth and width of the latest information technology. While the medical record relates to the clinical diagnosis and treatment within a single practice or hospital, the health record is a more complete representation of a patient’s health that conforms to the nationally recognized interoperability standards.

More than merely the preservation of data, an EHR allows for the structured formatting of the data pertaining to medications, allergies, treatment plans, lab results, etc. EHRs contain evidence-based tools and assessments for better decision-making regarding diagnosis and treatment. EHRs help manage clinical workflows through an interactive interface that engages the provider in offering better care by way of on-screen alerts or prompts.

There are many more helpful features offered by modern EHR systems that improve health care. It is the reason why Medicaid and Medicare Incentive Programs have required that eligible EHRs be Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT). The National Alliance for Health Information Technology states that such EHR system data “can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organization.” An ONC certification ensures that an EHR system is designed to promote interoperability between other providers and sources. These certified EHR systems also meet the meaningful use standards where EMR systems do not.

EHRs like Zoobook Systems have many added capabilities. Among them are comprehensive HIPAA compliant security, patient portals, analytics, reports, integrated billing, and interfacing with labs. Certified EHR systems keep the patient data secure even in transmission between providers. Patients can access their data and add to the record where needed through secure online patient portals. Important analytics and reports can be drawn from the clinical data. This feature is becoming increasingly vital as the industry follows Medicaid and Medicare toward value-based care. Integrated billing and bi-directional lab interface are the latest benefits an EHR can offer for streamlining workflows.

There is a big difference between an EMR and an EHR. The difference is important for providers to know.

Increase Telehealth Use Among Clients

Increase Telehealth Use Among Your Clients

Many people, especially the younger generations, prefer convenience over traditional face to face interaction. And most can agree that not having to leave your house or deal with waiting rooms is quite beneficial. For those who use telehealth, there is a very high satisfaction rate. However, the problem is that only 19% of the population uses telehealth when it is offered by their provider. As the need for telehealth skyrockets during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important as clinicians to identify and address barriers preventing patients from adopting telehealth services, as well as what clinicians can do to get more patients on board.

1. Increase Awareness

One of the main reasons telehealth is not seeing the use it could is because many patients simply are not aware of the option available to them, especially if they have not been informed by their routine provider. As a trusted professional, a clinician informing his or her patient about the ability to meet remotely is much more likely to encourage them to use it than hearing about it from anyone else. Worrying about whether their insurance will cover them is an obstacle holding patients back from using telehealth, so being informed by their insurer or employer could also help increase adoption of these services.

Referrals work wonders in increasing telehealth use. Whenever possible, clinicians and their administrative staff should try to raise awareness of telehealth options by spreading the word to their families and friends, especially during a time where the healthcare field is being overwhelmed by risky in-person visits.

Marketing is crucial in informing patients about the benefits of telehealth. Digital marketing ads or email campaigns targeting relevant populations can help boost adoption. Social media has a massive influence on society, so spreading awareness via social media campaigns is another option to increase telehealth use. Ways of giving feedback, such as online surveys or ratings, can help spread the word as well.

2. Ensure Quality of Care

A common misconception about telehealth is that the quality of care received will be lower due to communication barriers. Research suggests, however, that the quality of care using telehealth is just as effective, if not better, when compared with face to face visits. Studies conducted on the effectiveness of telehealth and telemedicine as an evidence-based treatment have observed higher patient loyalty to providers. Possible reasons for higher quality of care include less distraction for both patient and provider as well as better access and more consistent engagement. Patients must be aware if their providers have a telehealth option, as they will be able to continue receiving care from the same clinician, which will help preserve quality of care.

3. Emphasize Convenience

Convenience is the number one benefit telehealth has over an in-person visit, which is the reason telehealth was developed. Being able to talk in real-time with a provider from the comfort of their own homes, eliminate travel time and costs, avoid a crowded waiting room, and set an appointment with flexible hours are what make telehealth worth using. When learning about what it is, patients should also be made aware of these strengths, along with the fact that it is safe. During these uncertain and scary times, safety is of the utmost importance. Speaking with a clinician over video chat, over the phone, or over text, allows the patient to minimize their risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Now, more than ever in the history of telehealth, there is a need to access these services. It should be as simple as possible to access as well. Mobile friendliness is a feature that makes telehealth more accessible. Many platforms allow you to do this while remaining secure and HIPAA compliant. Zoobook Systems in particular allows access via smartphone without the need to download an app from the app store; with the click of a link the patient is instantly connected. If you are a provider with the ability to treat patients with telemedicine, it will help for your patients to realize how easily they can access this type of care, as well as its benefits.

ONE MORE THING TO KEEP IN MIND

Many providers are opting for FREE or cheap telehealth platforms with low resolution video, low security encryption, and unreliable connections. This is the next crisis on the horizon related to telehealth – quality of experience. Zoobook provides a telehealth platform that is fully integrated with our EHR enabling clinicians to access clinical documents during the session. Zoobook’s Telehealth feature provides 4K hi-resolution video with error resilience technology meaning video continues even in low bandwidth areas (great for mobile users). Ease of use is paramount – most users can access sessions easily from their phone or computer by simply clicking a link – no apps to add. Both Hippa and SOC 2 compliant, Zoobook’s Telehealth feature has 256-bit encryption for the highest security. Provide your clients with the best user experience.

Misconceptions-About-Medication

Breaking Misconceptions About Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Drug Addiction

There has been an ongoing debate about the efficacy of using Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT in managing substance abuse among drug addicts, particularly those who have developed high-risk opioid dependence. Despite evidence-based practices that have shown MAT as an effective form of therapy for drug addiction and substance use disorders, there are still misconceptions and myths propagated by those who argue that MAT is simply substituting other addictive drugs for opiate addiction.

It’s high time that these misconceptions and myths are addressed to maximize the potentials of using MAT in successfully overcoming patients’ opioid dependence and maintaining their long-term recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid abuse involves persons who have developed an addiction to opiates that include prescription painkillers and pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, as well as the illicit drug heroin and opioid synthetics like Fentanyl.

In helping combat opioid addiction, MAT is used along with comprehensive behavioral therapy and support in customizing medications to address a drug addict’s cravings, withdrawal, and relapse prevention. MAT includes the use of anti-craving medications such as buprenorphine (Suboxone) and methadone, or opioid effect blockers like naltrexone (Vivitrol).

Buprenorphine and methadone have consistently been proven effective in treating opioid dependence. Naltrexone has also become vital in preventing opioid overdose and death. Therefore, increased access to these medication-assisted treatments for opioid use disorders is critical in curbing the rising opioid abuse epidemic.

According to Michael Botticelli, former Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, MAT saves lives “while increasing the chances a person will remain in treatment, learn the skills, and build the networks necessary for long-term recovery.”

Busting the Myths

  • It is not true that MAT introduces another drug addiction in treating opioid dependence. Evidence-based research shows that comprehensive drug addiction treatment plans using a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can successfully treat substance abuse disorders and help sustain long-term recovery.
  • MAT does not increase the risk of drug overdose. In fact, it prevents overdoses in patients by achieving detoxification faster and helping in addiction recovery by improving their quality of life, functionality, and their ability to handle stress better. MAT has also been proven to reduce the risk of death as patients begin their recovery.
  • The claim that there’s no proof to MAT’s greater effectivity over abstinence is false. In fact, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, MAT is recommended as the first line of treatment for opioid addiction by The National Institute of Drug Abuse, Americal Medical Association, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and other agencies that promote evidence-based studies on MAT as a successful solution for opioid dependence.

How Drug Addiction Treatment Facilities Can Maximize MAT

Behavioral and drug addiction treatment clinics can maximize the use of MAT with reliable clinical workflow tools such as the Zoobook EHR. This powerful EHR system provides digital versions of patients’ treatment plans that can efficiently plot out a patient’s therapy and medication schedules, set reminders for doctors and therapists, report patient updates in real-time, and monitor patient recovery remotely through digital gadgets and telemedicine.

For a FREE demo on how the Zoobook EHR can best help your agency integrate MAT in your clinical processes, call 1-800-995-6997 or visit www.zoobooksystems.com for more information.