Thursday, May 21, 2009

Practice Management Blog! (And you thought you'd seen it all)

Because we niche Bloggers need to stick together, let me plug a little gem of a weblog that my colleague came across recently while listlessly browsing the internet. It's called Manage My Practice, and, in the words of editor Mary Pat Whaley, it "provide[s] healthcare executives and medical practice managers [with] a place to find resources and information."

Mary isn't joking around, and, as a Board Certified Healthcare manager and a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives, she certainly knows her stuff.

We at IO Practiceware are tech-y types, so we're particularly stoked about the "Technology Answers" section. But the whole site is a wealth of information. With topics that span from "Innovation" to "Reimbursement," Manage My Practice tips you off on the latest in several corners of healthcare, from Medicare to swine flu to Twitter.

Way to go, Mary; keep up the good work!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Patients say, "EMR is A-OK"

Check out this recent article from ScienceDaily, which recounts Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's qualitative poll of patients about their opinions on EMR use. The basic gist is that patients are willing to sacrifice some standards of privacy in exchange for better, streamlined communication with their medical care professionals.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

CCHIT: Docs, What Matters to You?

Few credible articles begin with sweeping generalizations, but here I go (again): Doctors are acting as mere bystanders while regulatory groups -- for whom physician's needs are not paramount -- decide the future of electronic medical records. And the world. (How's that for sweeping?)

But, seriously, here's what's been going on: Docs receive pronouncements from the government, or other organizations like CCHIT, that will not only determine the fate of health care IT, but which will radically influence their day-to-day lives as medical practitioners. In the meantime, there's a lot of fretting, twitching, Googling, and conjecturing about what is to come. It's an insidious kind of self-disenfranchisement: doctors proactively (and rightfully) strain to listen to the cacophony of voices that have something to say about EMR, but are then reluctant to disagree with what they're hearing. And most of the time these voices do not address or accommodate the specific needs of ophthalmologists -- the ones who will actually have to come in contact with the new technology.

Docs, it's time to take matters into your own hands!

Okay, so I work for an EMR company. If you're a doc, there are probably some trust issues here. But, in all seriousness, it's become apparent to my colleagues and me that, without fail, the issues that concern doctors about electronic health records do not align with the issues prioritized by the higher ups.

And why should they? Apples and oranges, folks. Doctors want an EMR that will work for them: something that is fast, usable and will not compromise their work flow or productivity. In turn, EMR vendors are working to develop products that will respond, specifically, to these challenges.

The government, on the other hand, presumes the blanket success of the EMR industry to be a foregone conclusion. As such, health care higher-ups have preemptively -- and prematurely -- devoted their efforts to the regulation and proliferation of the industry.

But -- what industry? C'mon.

Consider CCHIT-certification. Nearly all stipulated criteria thus far have revolved around issues external to individual practices -- issues like auditing or interconnectivity. There's nothing inherently bad about tackling these issues, but it's a total cart-before-the-horse scenario. The timeline has been curiously inverted, such that less-pressing issues garner precedence over other measures that would ensure usability.

Take, for instance, the requirement that EMRs support DICOM images. Fine. It's something that, if uniformly adopted, would foster standardization and, eventually, interconnectivity. The problem is: almost no (or at least, very few) ophthlamic machines create DICOM images. There's no so-called "community network" to move these images around in. So why, then, make this a pressing issue for 2009?

The need for more doctor involvement in the regulation of EMR is clear. How can you get the ball rolling? Write to ASCRS. Write to AAO. It's at least a start. Make sure that your interests are being met. Create pressure so that the issues that matter in the exam room (speed, interoperability with practice management systems, etc.) are prioritized.

EMR is still in its infancy. In order to serve doctors and to succeed as an industry, we should be most concerned with enhancing and streamlining actual usage. Of course, IO Practiceware believes deeply in the importance of interconnectivity with other practices -- but it should be Stage 2, as opposed to Stage 1, of the CCHIT certification process.

Stage 1: Let's make it happen.


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Saturday, May 2, 2009

EMR is the Horseless Carriage of the New Millenium

Dear Blog Readers,

I am stuck on a train. The engine has stopped working. In times of crisis and/or intense boredom my thoughts naturally turn to electronic medical records. I dedicate the following unfounded and under-researched article to all the EMR-skeptics out there (you know who you are).


E.M.R. is the Horseless Carriage of the New Millenium, or
*In some instances, "people" may, in fact, mean only me.
  • Horseless carriages or, as we now call them, cars. Yes, hopefully you saw this coming from the title.
  • The American Revolution. I think of IO Practiceware as the rebel army and myself as General George Washington. The British correlative is, um, paper charts.
  • Rihanna's mullet-esque haircut. I was destroyed by it at first, but now I see its many merits.
  • Bikini waxes. Like EMR because momentary burning sensation precedes lasting silky smoothness.
  • Telling my sister Santa doesn't exist.
  • Shuffleboard. I have no evidentiary basis for saying this, but if you've seen the sport played I'm sure you'd agree that early on someone must have been skeptical about its potential for widespread appeal. But how wrong they were.
  • Indigo-colored nail polish. I have received many compliments and I don't believe them to be disingenuous.
  • The internet. Right?
  • Baby carrots.
And to round things out, here are a few
*Same rules apply.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nuts and Bolts of an IO Implementation

Besides its staff being inexplicably and distractingly attractive, one thing that sets IO Practiceware apart from other electronic health record companies is its commitment to customer service.

Yeah, sure, you've heard the phrase "customer service" more times than you've heard mention of swine flu, or Susan Boyle, or whether Susan Boyle has swine flu, in the past few weeks. But here at IO Practiceware, when we say "customer service," we mean it!

One prime example of just how extensively IO Practiceware's blood, sweat, and streaming river of tears go into supporting its customers is the infamous IO Implementation -- or, as I like to call it, OPERATION: WE DON'T SLEEP, SO YOU CAN.

I participated in my inaugural on-site implementation one week ago at a three-doctor retinal practice in Central Florida and realized that many of you would probably be curious to know what the heck goes on. I have therefore decided to record my experiences in a way that's significantly more illuminating than, say, my ASCRS 2009 Diary, which was purely an exercise in indulgence and irrelevance.

So: if you'd like a play-by-play of what its like transitioning to IO's EMR system, read on!

Continue reading "Nuts and Bolts of an IO Implementation"