Saturday, October 25, 2008

Welcome!

Welcome to IO Practiceware's official blog, where you'll find news, updates, articles, and case studies relating to our EMR and practice management software. We also post links and articles that involve or relate to the greater ophthalmology community. Questions or comments? Email our webmaster.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Touch Pad Technology, or, Our Superiority Complex

Let's be honest: at IO Practiceware, we think we're pretty awesome.  Why?  

Three words: Touch Screen Interface.  

"Touch Screen" = self-explanatory.  "Interface" = our software's ability to communicate between chart displays and information tables, creating a system of truly integrated data entry, retrieval, revision and review.

But what make's IO Practiceware's Touch Screen Interface better than other companies'?  Why the self-described "superiority complex?"  

Well, apart from the fact that all our employees are ridiculously and inexplicably attractive, our software was designed as touch screen software -- which is to say, to support touch screen data entry.  Other companies that "use" touch screens usually do not offer software that is properly designed for this form of input.  Which means that it doesn't make much of a difference whether or not you use your finger, a mouse, a pencil, a herring bone - it's all just as slow (even slower!) than paper charts.

So how does IO Practiceware remain a shining beacon of truth and beauty?  

Our large data entry buttons function quite differently from a mouse pad, keyboard or stylus -- and are significantly faster.  Having to scroll through dropdown menus or type information is frequently what slows doctors down when using EMRs.  Our system, however, doesn't ask you to do this; it guides you screen to screen, with data entry a mere, single click away.

Moreover, the draw function in our charts allows you to record your visual observations electronically, at which point these observations are interpreted and translated for you, which removes the need for redundant data entry and greatly reduces time spent in the exam room.

To summarize:
  • We're awesome.
  • Why?
  • Because we look like the cast of Baywatch.
  • Also because of our Touch Screen Interface.
  • Unlike other companies, our software was designed for touch screen data entry.
  • Our big button design means super lightning speed in the exam room.
  • In Irkukstian Dialect, IO Practiceware means "World Peace."
Need more info?  Check out our "Learn More" page.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

YES WE CAN: Under Obama, Bright Future for Health Care, EMR


We all knew President-Elect Barack Obama looked great in his skivvies, but some were skeptical about his proposed health care plan. To what extent, we still wonder, will Obama advocate for better health technology? How much money will he allocate toward facilitating widespread adoption of EMR systems?

On Thursday afternoon the Harbinger of Hope proposed a preliminary outline for a $100 billion package for healthcare, and at the top of this agenda is a plan to bestow new incentives onto practices that use electronic medical records. It seems he has great faith in the future success, and necessity, of EMR.  Says Obama:
To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that, within five years, all of America's medical records are computerized. This will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests.
Consistent with IO Practiceware's outlook, Obama envisions a future of highly interconnected practices and medical treatment centers, benefitting patients, doctors, and medical staff with a new grade of efficiency and cost-effectiveness; to the Obama administration, the adoption of EMR should, and will, reflect the new era of technological savvy within the communal, and global, network of health care. As Chris Frates from Politico.com writes in "Health care could nab $100B payday":
The streamlining effort is aimed at improving quality and saving money and could include digitizing patients’ medical records and pushing doctors to use e-prescribing.

Some of those funds would be funneled as incentive payments directly to doctors and hospitals that participate in Medicare, which provides health care to the nation’s seniors. The idea is similar to the payments used to coax doctors to make the upgrade from prescription pads to e-prescribing. 

A critical component...is getting medical practitioners access to the Web, which would reduce paperwork, allow them to communicate more efficiently with each other, and track the care and history of patients even as they change doctors. 


Officials would also like to fund a coordinator who would help set national health IT standards to govern the emerging system. Uniform standards are key to creating a system under which a doctor in New York can access the medical records of a tourist from Oklahoma.
Whoa! A President-Elect who champions EMR! Who would have thought Barack Obama could electrify audiences -- and medical records?! (Bad joke.) Who knew he could deliver so much change -- to your pocket! (Worse joke.)

In all seriousness, what does this potential "$100B payday" mean for you and your practice? Our friends over at the Health Care blog have expressed concerns in the past over the efficacy -- or more precisely, practicality -- of Obama's plan. Like many persons in the medical community, their qualms manifest a strong mistrust of paperless practices, with a particularly cynical outlook on electronic medical records in general.

In the midst of this skepticism, the Team at IO maintains: "Yes We Can." But what about you? What concerns do you have about widespread use of EMR?

Please submit comments below, and check out our upcoming post on EMR adoption ("Crossing Ts and Dotting Eyes: EMR, Point by Point").

Monday, October 6, 2008

From the archives: A testimonial

Don't just take it from us, read here about one practice's successful implementation of IO Practiceware.  

(Of course, in the two years that have past since its publication, IO has made significant changes and improvements; still, this article might give you some useful perspective.)


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"E-M-Are You Serious?"

(a continuation of Nov. 25's post "Is EMR really that scary?")

Doctor: So, IO-- while I like what I'm hearing, I'm skeptical. The sad fact is, doctors have been using paper charts since the beginning of time--

IO: -- well, since the beginning of doctors, and paper...

Doctor: -- right -- and, you have to understand, I've heard horror stories from friends who invested in an EMR system that not only slowed them down and failed to increase revenue, but actually made them lose money. How do I know IO Practiceware won't do that?

IO: Okay, a few things. Of all the systems we've installed since we opened as a company, 100% of our EMRs have benefited the doctors and their practices. Which is to say, to this day, all of our clients use their EMR successfully.

Doctor: E-M-Are You Serious?

IO: Oh yeah.

Doctor: How? Explain.

IO: Where to start? To be honest, most people looking into purchasing EMR don't always know what to look for. Because of this, the touch screen might not at first seem all that crucial to the success of your EMR. But we assure you -- it is. It's just faster. Period.

Doctor: Don't a lot of other companies' EMRs use touch screens as well?

IO: Some do, yes...but beware of impostors! With these other companies' touch screens, the on-screen maneuvering with your finger functions exactly like a mouse, so it isn't any faster. Sometimes it's actually slower.

Doctor: Tricky distinction. How is IO's touch screen different?

IO: Well, our software was programmed specifically to support the touch-screen interface, so when using our EMR, you never have to simulate the act of writing, typing, or using a stylus with drop down screens; this wouldn't speed things up much. Instead, we thought long and hard about the best way to group together observations, diagnoses, and recommendations, such that we lead you from screen to screen, from button to button, anticipating your next move, assisting you in grouping together observations. These systematic and logical groupings, combined with the inherent fastness of using a touch screen to push buttons, helps you to positively fly through your patient's exam.

Doctor: How have you catered your software so specifically to the needs of ophthalmologists?

IO: Well, unlike a lot of other companies that sell EMRs, IO Practiceware was designed exclusively for ophthalmologists. To that end, we've researched extensively the best way to organize our charts so they make the most sense for you -- logical groupings by symptom, possible treatments -- you name it.

Doctor: And do I also have the option of customizing according to my own preferences and methodologies?

IO: You betcha!

Doctor: Whoa, you just sounded like Sarah Palin.

IO: Sorry.

Doctor: So what about imaging?

IO: That's one of the coolest parts! In addition to having all x-rays, printouts, and patient-related images right there at your fingertips, our EMRs have a draw function that not only lets you record your visual observations, but which will interpret your markings on the spot, supplying you with possible diagnoses even before you have to look them up.

Doctor: Wow.

IO: Yep. The whole process is so quick, you might even have time to kill -- which means you'll have to make small talk, maybe ask your patient about his golf swing, or tell some eye-related jokes, or do that trick where your pen disappears.

Doctor: I love that trick.

IO: I know, me too.

Doctor: Okay, now I'm really interested. Tell me more!

(stay tuned for Act III: "Crossing T's and Dotting Eyes")

IO Practiceware Goes Paperless in 2009

In order to provide our customers with the best possible service, IO Practiceware has reinvigorated its commitment to cutting costs and creating an eco-friendly business model by eliminating its use of paper. Mailings, invoices, release memos, and other important informational will be conveyed electronically over email.

While worldwide paper consumption was on the rise throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, in recent years there has been a net decrease of 9 percent in developed countries. The paperless model now pervades a variety of businesses and continues to find new applications – from online banking to electronic boarding passes to (of course) electronic medical records.

A paperless business – like a paperless ophthalmology practice – improves workflow by eradicating wasteful habits, like the unnecessary printing out of correspondences, memos, faxes and other miscellany that cost money, time and efficiency. We at IO Practiceware believe that operating entirely electronically reflects and typifies the goal of our electronic medical records and practice management software, which is to streamline and optimize your practice’s functionality, creating tremendous value that will increase greatly over time.

IO is in the process of collecting official email addresses from its current customers. (If you are a customer who has not yet replied to our e-memo, please be sure to forward or confirm your official email address(es) to fricci@iopracticeware.com.)

IO will continue its efforts to create a cost-effective and green workplace and will keep you abreast of its ongoing developments. We look forward to reporting back on how this change benefits us – and you – in 2009.

(For more on the benefits of our paperless EMR and PMS software, click here.)

E-Prescribing: IO Delivers Incentives to Your Practice

In the coming year, many ophthalmology practices will switch to e-prescribing in order to reap its numerous benefits.  CMS is offering a 2% incentive payment of a practice’s total Medicare reimbursement -- in addition to the 2% PQRI incentive.  Using IO Practiceware’s new e-prescribing EMR software release is simple and increases productivity in the practice. This will mean:
  • No more work prescribing drugs than is currently required
  • No more paper Rxs to print, retrieve, and hand to patients
  • No more printer jams
  • Greatly reduced need to order and pay for special Rx paper
  • Better tracking of medications
IO Practiceware is working in partnership with SureScripts, the largest and best e-prescribing partner; together, the two companies will provide your practice with these services:
  • Secure electronic transmission of prescription information. 
  • Electronic refills. When patients request a refill from their pharmacy, practices receive the request electronically and are able to approve the request with the click of a button.
  • Formulary and eligibility information will be instantly available.
  • Drug cautions and interactions will be shown.
  • In time, complete patient medication histories will be downloadable – saving tech time.
In order for a physician to qualify for the 2% Medicare incentive, he or she will need to prescribe electronically and report on at least 50% of qualified cases throughout the calendar year. This does not mean that practices must begin reporting on January 1, 2009. The 50% is gauged by the total number of patients seen throughout the year.  Thus, you should not worry if your practice does not begin e-prescribing or reporting until the spring; you will still be able to qualify for the incentive payment.

In order to e-prescribe and report, practices must:
  • Sign up with IO for this service. The cost of installation is one month’s maintenance. The cost of use is a surcharge of 10% on your Monthly Fee.
  • Register. IO will do this for you.
  • Receive training. Before you begin using e-prescribing, we will provide your practice with a training session regarding how the process works.
  • Use the IO software to e-prescribe. The IO clinical software has been modified so that your front desk can record which pharmacy each patient wants their prescriptions sent to. Otherwise, there are no changes in the way you write Rxs.
  • Report. Medicare is informed that you are e-prescribing by including a “zero dollar” service code on each claim for which you report an office visit code. 
There are three codes that will be used and IO will automatically put these codes on the claims for you. The codes are:
  • G8443 – All prescriptions for this visit were sent electronically through a qualified e-prescribing system.
  • G8445 – You have a qualified e-prescribing system but no drugs were prescribed during this visit.
  • G8446 - Some or all drugs prescribed during this visit were printed or were phoned in because of one of the following reasons:
  • Required by law (Schedule II-V drugs or other state law)
  • Patient request
  • Qualified e-prescribing system temporarily unavailable
In short: E-prescribing will soon be available to IO customers, and those who use IO to e-prescribe will find the new incentive translates to a significant increase in revenue.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us.