Small Businesses Benefit From Hiring Electronic Medical Records Specialists

EMR companies are the latest craze amongst medical professionals who are trying to find a way to get around the unexpected extra time it takes to use electronic records while seeing patients. Hiring a team of professionals who can virtually pop into patient visits and keep records while doctors focus on their patient has proven to be a great asset.

However many small businesses think that it’s unnecessary for them without giving it a second thought. There have been many smaller practices that have found that to be untrue. The amount they spend to implement a virtual team is far less than what it’d be to hire just one full-time employee to keep records. This is when taking into account the salary and benefits provided.

The largest EHR companies tend to aim for hospitals, that’s a fact. However there are those that have made it so their offerings benefit even small practices. Both cost and ease of use should be considered when searching for one that will match with their needs.

How to Find the Best Option

Everything seems to be moving to the cloud. So small practices should be sure their potential team of virtual experts has that option; this way they can avoid implementation of a system that requires host servers on their property.

The EMR companies considered will maintain the staff using their own computer networks and in turn take on all that responsibility so the practice needn’t worry about computer issues, which is an added expense. The best EHR companies will handle all the details, as keeping expenses down is important for smaller practices.

Time – an Invaluable Resource

At the heart of it all, small practices simply want to save time. Many have heard that time is money and that is especially true within these offices as they typically consist of few staff members and see fewer patients.

The few patients they do see, they want to give their full attention to. Having remote EHR companies that provide an expert to be dialed into each appointment is so convenient. Many report it’s like having an assistant that doesn’t require training. That also saves time and money!

Not to mention, patients who receive attention are happier and healthier. They will go out and recommend the practice to friends, family and coworkers and in turn the practice can take on more patients. EHR companies allow for that to happen because they free up hours, reportedly allowing doctors to take on up to twice as many patients per day.

Complicated Systems

When it comes to systems, many of the EHR companies are trained specifically on the latest and most popular available. Offices that decide to train their own staff typically have issues because they can be complicated, and those staff members being trained in a smaller practice likely have more than one task within the office.

This can lead to stress and frustration, and of course that leads to mistakes. Small practices can’t afford to have mistakes happen because they need every bit of support they can get from patients and the government.

That’s why having a remote team that specializes in the software is the best move. Though it can be a daunting thought at first most offices end up loving their team. Not only are the practices followed by EHR companies secure, they are very thorough. They can expect the cleanest and most organized records possible. EHR professionals can also take prescription orders and send them to the pharmacy, freeing up even more time for the doctor and patient to interact.

All in all, implementing EHR companies is a choice that should be seriously considered by small offices as well as large in order to streamline the process and reap the most benefits.

Population Level Health Management and Predictive Analytics

There has been much discussion of population health management coupled with predictive analytics recently in the health care field. Why? Most who are discussing these topics see it as a means of improving the health of patients while reducing the costs of doing so. Providing better care at lower costs is becoming necessary as payers are beginning to pay for quality outcomes as they move away from fee-for-service.

What is population health and how does predictive analytics fit in? Let me begin by defining population health and illustrate predictive analytics. In statistics, population refers to the complete set of objects of interest to the investigation. For instance, it could be the temperature range of adolescents with measles. It could be the individuals in a rural town who are prediabetic. These two are of interest in healthcare. Population also applies to any other field of research. It could be the income level of adults in a county or the ethnic groups living in a village.

Typically, population health management refers to managing the health outcomes of individuals by looking at the collective group. For instance, at the clinical practice level, population health management would refer to effectively caring for all the patients of the practice. Most practices segregate the patients by diagnosis when using population health management tools, such as patients with hypertension. Practices typically focus on patients with high costs for care so that more effective case management can be provided to them. Better case management of a population typically leads to more satisfied patients and lower costs.

Population health from the perspective of a county health department (as illustrated in last month’s newsletter) refers to all the residents of a county. Most services of a health department are not provided to individuals. Rather, the health of residents of a county is improved by managing the environment in which they live. For instance, health departments track the incidence of flu in a county in order to alert providers and hospitals so that they are ready to provide the levels of care needed.

You should be able to see that the population whose health is being managed depends upon who is providing the service. Physician practices’ population is all the patients of the practice. For county health departments it is all residents of a county. For the CDC it is all residents of the United States.

Once the population is identified, the data to be collected is identified. In a clinical setting, a quality or data team is most likely the body that determines what data should be collected. Once data is collected, trends in care can be identified. For instance, a practice may find that the majority of the patients who are identified as being hypertensive are managing their condition well. The quality team decides that more can be done to improve the outcomes for those who do not have their blood pressure under control. Using the factors from the data that it has collected the team applies a statistical approach called predictive analytics to see if can find any factors that may be in common among those whose blood pressure is not well managed. For instance, they may find that these patients lack the money to buy their medication consistently and that they have trouble getting transportation to the clinic that provides their care service. Once these factors are identified, a case manager at the clinic can work to overcome these barriers.

I will finish this overview of population health management and predictive analytics with two examples of providers using the approach correctly. In August 2013 the Medical Group Management Association presented a webinar featuring the speakers Benjamin Cox, the director of Finance and Planning for Integrated Primary Care Organization at Oregon Health Sciences University, an organization with 10 primary care clinics and 61 physicians, and Dr. Scott Fields, the Vice Chair of Family Medicine at the same organization. The title of the webinar was “Improving Your Practice with Meaningful Clinical Data”. Two of the objectives of the webinar were to define the skill set of their Quality Data Team, including who the members were, and describing the process of building a set of quality indicators.

The clinics were already collecting a large variety of data to report to various groups. For instance, they were reporting data for “meaningful use” and to commercial payers as well as employee groups. They decided to take this data and more and organize it into scorecards that would be useful to individual physicians and to practice managers at each clinic. Some of the data collected was patient satisfaction data, hospital readmission data, and obesity data. Scorecards for physicians were designed to meet the needs and requests of the individual physicians as well as for the practice as a whole. For instance, a physician could ask to have a scorecard developed for him that identified individual patients whose diabetes indicators showed that the patient was outside of the control limits for his diabetes. Knowing this, a physician could devote more time to improving the quality of life of the patient.

Scorecards for the clinic indicated how well the physicians at the site were managing patients with chronic conditions as a whole. With predictive analytics the staff of the clinic could identify which processes and actions helped improve the health of the patients. Providing more active case management may have been demonstrated to be effective for those with multiple chronic conditions.

Mr. Cox and Dr. Fields also stated that the quality data team members were skilled at understanding access, structuring data in meaningful ways, at presenting data to clinicians effectively and in extracting data from a variety of sources. The core objectives of the data team were to balance the competing agendas of providing quality care, making sure that operations were efficient and that patient satisfaction was high.

A second example of population health management focuses on preventing cardiovascular disease in a rural county in Maine-Franklin County. Over a 40-year period, starting in the late 1960’s, a volunteer nonprofit group and a clinical group worked together to improve the cardiovascular health of the residents of the county. As the project advanced, a hospital joined in the efforts.

At the beginning of the prevention efforts, the cardiovascular health of this poor county was below the state average. As volunteers and clinical groups became more active in improving the health of its residents, various cardiovascular measures improved significantly and actually were better in some respects than more affluent counties in the state that had better access to quality health services. The improvements were driven by volunteers who went out into the community to get those identified as being at risk of developing cardiovascular problems involved in smoking cessation classes, in increasing their physical activity and in improving their diets. This led to lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol rates and improving endurance.

The results and details of this 40-year effort in Franklin County has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2015. The article is “Community-wide CVD prevention programs linked with improved health outcomes”.

As you can see, a population level approach to healthcare provides effective results. A clinic can improve the outcomes of its patients with chronic diseases while balancing costs through improved efficiency by focusing on data at the population level. A community can improve the lives of its residents by taking a population level approach to preventive care. Population level approaches to healthcare are varied and can be very successful if population level theory is correctly implemented. Better results can be obtained pairing it with predictive analytics.

Remote Hospitals In Isolated Areas

Health care is an essential part of life for millions of people all over the world. Regardless if a person lives in the city or in a remote jungle location; sooner or later they will need some type of medical assistance. Thankfully, there is a growing trend to extend health care to all corners of the globe.

The effort to extend health care to the less fortunate is something that governments do for many people. Governments and health organizations typically provide this type of benefit to faraway people that usually do not have access to traditional medical care. This care is essential for saving lives and helping people to remain free from disease and ailments.

Many government and national organizations are establishing medical facilities in places that rely on poor quality health care to deal with sick and injured people. Many volunteers and missionaries from around the world typically staff make shift hospitals within isolated areas. A lot of these people are professionals such as doctors, nurses and medical specialists. However, many make shift hospital workers are not licensed and certified medical workers. They have been giving on-the-job training and instruction in terms of care.

Medical care professional individuals often fulfill the role of a primary care physician. People can now experience what it is like to have a family doctor. Having a family doctor for the first time is a big deal for most people. Family doctors are essential to people in the areas serviced by remote medical facilities. They can help people to feel more comfortable during their visit to a medical facility. These individuals also help to influence people to keep coming back for future care.

Remote hospitals are often used to stem the advancement of disease or to curb specific medical conditions. People in remote areas typically do not have medical insurance but this will not stop remote hospital facilities from taking them in as patients. Governments and private medical organizations typically support remote health care structures through taxes, business transactions or donations. They can also be funded directly through governmental support from nations where the medical facilities are located.

Most international organizations that establish medical facilities in remote locations across the world also provide other types of infrastructure. Roads, schools and emergency services are also usually built up along side hospitals that have been included into a region. These extra facilities are often necessary for helping communities in these areas to grow and stabilize. They also help to serve the hospitals that have been erected.

Family medicine is virtually non existent in many Third World countries and rural communities. Many people might have to travel hundreds of miles to receive adequate health care. Investors and organizations that fund remote hospitals typically must set them up within an area that is centrally located in the middle of an isolated region. Once these hospitals have been erected they are important for helping and maintaining the community.

Project managers must also ensure that the hospitals have enough staff and population to support them. Project managers know that they cannot build up these medical facilities if there is not enough of a demand for their services. Specific isolated regions must be carefully selected before project managers will place a medical facility into an area.

Family medicine is an essential part of a community’s well being. Without it lots of people will continue to be plagued by sickness and disease and they also will have to deal with other ailments that are impacting their communities. Remote hospitals are not just for poor countries or people who reside within rural areas they also can be set up to serve individuals who live within inner city communities. Many inner city communities do not have adequate health care facilities and people must often travel outside of them to receive help. Ultimately, remote care facilities are useful structures for helping people everywhere to get the medical care that is desperately needed within these areas.