Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Physician Business Ideas: How to Get a Return on Investment from Your EHR

“Many physicians still do not believe the current-generation EHRs will offer a return on investment directly to physicians.

Steven Shea, MD and George Hripcsak, MD, “Accelerating The Use of Electronic Health Records in Physician Practices, “ New England Journal of Medicine, January 21, 2010

Let’s face it. The main reason doctors don’t install EHRs is because they don’t regard EHRs as a good investment. This is especially true of 1 to 3 person practices. In these practices, only 8% of doctors have adopted EHRs. Even in 15% of practices who have adopted EHRs, many doctors suffer investment losses, and some 30% shut down or switch EHRs after the initial installation.

In the blog, I shall suggest one practical way to get a return on your EHR investment. That way is to actively use the Instant Medical History, which is piece of software embedded in 19 of the best selling EHRs now on the market.

The Instant Medical History is software consisting of a series of clinical algorithms based on the patient’s chief complaint, gender, age, other demographic data, and medical history. In less than 10 minutes, the patient can enter their data through a series of “yes” or “no” questions. The software then produces a narrative history based on the patient-generated information.

When the patient enters the exam room, the doctor can view this information and zero in on the patient’s problem, click in the physical findings, suggest a treatment plan, and produce a completely documented medical record. The doctor can hand this record to the patient upon leaving the office, and the record can also be used as the basis for claims or referral letters.

As I described in my book, Innovation-Driven Health Care (Jones and Bartlett, 2007), this approach enhances performance, productivity, and profitability for these reasons.

• It produces an accurate historical record, demographic, and other data, as seen from the patient’s point of view.

• It saves on the cost of entering data because the patient, rather than the nurse, scribe, or doctor, does the work.

• It saves the doctor’s time by allowing him or her to focus quickly on the patient’s core problem.

• It allows a busy primary care physician to see at many as 6 more patients a day, based on these physician time savings.

• It produces a completely documented electronic record, which elevates and justifies a higher code.

• It permits the patient to leave the office with a complete record of what transpired, what was found, and what treatment plan will ensue.

• It can be used as the basis for referral letters to specialists. ERs and hospitals.

• It minimizes malpractice risks because of the extensive documentation of what occurred at the point of care.

• It transforms and elevates the patient-doctor relationship by adding transparency, full disclosure, and partnering through sharing of information.

For more information, call Primetime Software in Raleigh, North Carolina, 803-796-7980, or Allen Wenner, MD, a primary care physician in Columbia, South Carolina, 803-356-3609.

Dr. Richard Reece is author of Obama, Doctors, and Health Reform (IUniverse, 2009) and Innovation-Driven Health Care (Jones and Bartlett, 2007) Both book are available at www.iuniverse, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other book websites . Dr. Reece blogs at medinnovationblog. blogspot.com.

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