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Announcing the Philosophic Medical Records Revolution

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Enter the Revolution

DEM blue

By David Edward Marcinko MBBS MBA CMP®

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Enter the CMPs

To understand the MR revolution that has occurred the past decade , place yourself for a moment in the position of third-party payer.

You want to know if Dr. Brown actually gave the care for which he is submitting a bill.  You want to know if that care was needed.  You want to know that the care was given to benefit the patient, rather than to provide financial benefit to the provider beyond the value of the services rendered.

Can you send one of your employees to follow Dr. Brown around on his or her office hours and hospital visits?

Of course not!  You cannot see what actually happened in Dr. Brown’s office that day or why Dr. Black ordered a CAT scan on the patient at the imaging center.  What you can do is review the medical record that underlies the bill for services rendered from Dr. Blue.

Most of all, you can require the doctor to certify that the care was actually rendered and was indicated.  You can punish Dr. White severely if an element of a referral of a patient to another health care provider was to obtain a benefit in cash or in kind from the health care provider to whom the referral had been made [Stark Laws].  You can destroy Dr. Rose financially and put him in jail if his medical records do not document the bases for the bills he submitted for payment.

This nearly complete change in function of the medical record has precious little to do with the quality of patient care. To illustrate that point, consider only an office visit in which the care was exactly correct, properly indicated and flawlessly delivered, but not recorded in the office chart.  As far as the patient was concerned, everything was correct and beneficial to the patient.  As far as the third-party payer is concerned, the bill for those services is completely unsupported by required documentation and could be the basis for a False Claims Act [FCA] charge, a Medicare audit, or a criminal indictment.  We have left the realm of quality of patient care far behind.  Shall we change it back to the way it was?  That is not going to happen.

***

273_1

***

Instead, practitioners must adjust their attitudes to the present function of patient records. They must document as required under pain of punishment for failure to do so.  That reality is infuriating to many since they still cling to the ideal of providing good quality care to their patients and disdain such requirements as hindrances to reaching that goal.  They are also aware of the fact that full documentation can be provided without a reality underlying it.

“Fine, you want documentation?  I’ll give you documentation!”

Some have given in to the temptation of “cookbook” entries in their charts, or canned computer software programs, EHR [electronic medical record] templates, listing all the examinations they should have done, all the findings which should be there to justify further treatment; embedded “billing engines” not with-standing. We have personally seen records of physical examinations which record a patient’s ankle pulses as “equal and bounding bilaterally” when the patient had only one leg; hospital chart notes which describe extensive discussion with the patient of risks, alternatives and benefits in obtaining informed consent when the remainder of the record demonstrates the patient’s complaint that the surgeon has never told her what he planned to do; operative reports of procedures done and findings made in detail which, unfortunately, bear no correlation with the surgery which was actually performed.

***

EMRs

***

Whether electronic medical records (EMR) will really be helpful, in the future, is still not known.

In fact, according to Ed Pullen MD, a board certified family physician practicing in Puyallup WA, electronic health records are defined primarily as repositories of patient data [much like paper records].

But, in the era of meaningful use [MU], patient-centered medical homes, and Accountable Care Organizations [ACOs], mere patient data repositories are not sufficient to meet the complex care support needs of clinical professionals. These complaints arise because EHR systems are being used as clinical care support systems, which means they should enhance the productivity of clinical professionals and support their information needs, not hinder them [personal communication, and DrPullen.com]. 

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EHRs in the News – GAG!

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A Recent Round-Up

1-darrellpruitt[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

“Feds push forward with controversial health rule – The Obama administration is moving ahead with controversial new rules that require doctors to switch to electronic health records or face fees, resisting calls from both parties to delay implementation.”

By Sarah Ferris for The Hill, October 6, 2015

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/256120-feds-push-forward-with-controversial-health-it-rule?utm_content=buffer9cd4b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

“The Gag Clause is Killing Us – Doctors are barred from discussing safety glitches in software…  And what if doctors — your doctor — is unable to make problems with EHR programs public, due to a so-called ‘gag clause’ written into the contract with the software company, which forbids sharing and publishing, in any form, of potentially dangerous flaws in the IT systems? This is already happening.”

By Deirdre Reilly for HealthZette, October 6, 2015

http://www.lifezette.com/healthzette/gag-clause-is-killing-us/

 “Hackers target Australian health sector, selling records for A$1,000 – Hackers are targeting the Australian health sector, with fully populated digital health records sold on the black market for up to A$1,000 each [$720 US].”

By Beverley Head for ComputerWeekly.com, October 7, 2015

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500254986/Hackers-target-Australian-health-sector-selling-records-for-A1000 

 “Electronic health records software often written without doctors’ input – The reason why many doctors find electronic health records (EHR) difficult to use might be that the software wasn’t properly tested, researchers suggests.”

By Kathryn Doyle for Reuters, October 7, 2015

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/07/us-health-software-ehr-idUSKCN0S11OY20151007

 “EHRs provide long-term savings, convenience.”

(no byline), American Dental Association, ADA News, December 6, 2013

http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2013-archive/december/ehrs-provide-long-term-savings-convenience

 ***EHR

***

More:

  1. The Percentage of Office-Based Doctors with EHRs
  2. Do Nurses like EHRs?
  3. EHRs – Still Not Ready For Prime Time
  4. The “Price” of eHRs

Conclusion

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[HOSPITAL OPERATIONS, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, HIT AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT COMPANION TEXTBOOK SET]

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[Foreword Dr. Phillips MD JD MBA LLM] *** [Foreword Dr. Nash MD MBA FACP]

***

EHRs – AMA versus ADA

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Will Electronic Health Records Ever Be Usable?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittThe American Medical Association

The AMA attempts to address the frustration EHRs create, especially for doctors and other healthcare workers. ‘It’s easy to use, once you know where everything is,’ the instructor said during an EHR training session I recently attended.

Most EHR companies seem to believe this is an acceptable way to design software. EHR usability has been greatly ignored by vendors, and last week the American Medical Association issued eight usability priorities in an attempt to address the issue.

This directive comes as a result of a joint study by the RAND Corporation and the AMA highlighting EHRs as a significant detractor from physicians’ professional satisfaction.” Commentary by Stephanie Kreml for InformationWeek, September 26, 2014.

http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/electronic-health-records/will-electronic-health-records-ever-be-usable/a/d-id/1316071

The American Dental Association

On the other hand, “EHRs provide long-term savings and convenience,” no byline, ADA News, December 6, 2013.

http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2013-archive/december/ehrs-provide-long-term-savings-convenience

boxing-gloves-1053702

[POW – SPLAT – BIFF – UGH]

More:

  1. The Percentage of Office-Based Doctors with EHRs
  2. Do Nurses like EHRs?
  3. EHRs – Still Not Ready For Prime Time
  4. The “Price” of eHRs
  5. Borges versus Kvedar Video eHR Debate

EHRs versus the Federal Government

Government mandated EHRs – what a waste!

“Doctors, Hospitals Went Digital, But Still Can’t Share Records – After spending billions to switch from paper to digital records — much of it taxpayer subsidized through the economic stimulus package — providers say the systems often do not share information with competitors.”

[Kaiser Health News, October 1, 2014]

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2014/October/01/marketplace.aspx

Conclusion

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How EMR Vendors Mis-Lead Doctors [Part 2 of 2]

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A SPECIAL ME-P REPORT

Practical “Tips and Pearls” from the Trenches

[Part Two]

By Shahid Shah MS http://www.healthcareguy.com

Shahid N. ShahAs your practice’s CIO it’s your job to challenge the vendors’ assertions about why you need an EMR, especially during the selection and production demonstration phase.

The most important reason for the digitization of medical records is to make patient information available when the physician needs that information to either care for the patient or supply information to another caregiver.

Electronic medical records are not about the technology but about whether or not information is more readily available at the point of need. In no particular order, the major reasons given for the business case of EMRs by vendors include:

  • Increase in staff productivity
  • Increase of practice revenue and profit
  • Reduce costs outright or control cost increases
  • Improve clinical decision making
  • Enhance documentation
  • Improve patient care
  • Reduce medical errors

Let’s tackle each potential benefit and see how they can be realized or left unfulfilled based on how a practice uses the technology solutions available to it. While thinking of the benefits, keep in mind that all automation solutions have voracious appetites for data entry and information. If you do not enter the data (either manually, through scanners, or integration with external systems) the value of the solutions cannot be realized. That’s why it’s crucial to consider how much time and effort you’d like to invest in data entry and if you’re not willing or able to take the time to enter the data into the system then the system is not going to work for you.

Increase in staff productivity

The first benefit often cited by vendors is improvement of your staff’s productivity. In a well-designed and properly implemented solution, an EMR can reduce the amount of time it takes for staff to locate records and find particular information about patients as well as generally conduct their tasks in a more efficient manner. However, actually achieving productivity improvement is much more difficult than vendors often make it sound. This is because the actual improvement in productivity is directly related to the amount of detailed data that is collected for patients across the entire practice workflow. Unless your practice has identified all or at least most major workflow steps and has created appropriate automation steps is unlikely that your productivity improvement will match what the vendor promises.

Ask your vendors specifically where the staff productivity improvements come from; in a demonstration have the sales person show you how specific functions of their software can improve staff effectiveness at particular tasks. Instead of citing just studies performed in large institutions, have the vendor show you how their benefits apply to your smaller setting. Ask specifically what happens if certain data is not entered in the way the vendor requires it; does it break the software, reduce the staff productivity benefits, or something else?

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Increase of practice revenue and profit

Most physician practices make money by seeing patients and charging fees for services; but when a vendor promises an improvement in revenue or an increase in profit, you must be very reluctant to believe the claims without specific evidence. An increase in revenue can only come when the number of patients seen per day per physician can be increased. An increase in profit can only be achieved if the costs associated with seeing patients can be reduced. Unless an EMR actually reduces the number of steps involved in seeing a patient and reducing the time associated with the non-clinical aspects of patient care there is no way that the introduction of the technology itself will increase revenue. Likewise, unless an EMR is designed to significantly remove staff burden and reduce the number of people in your office that you need to perform tasks associated with patient care, realizing an increase in profits will be tough.

During the software demonstration, ask the vendor about how the revenues increases come because of specific features. Dubious responses like studies performed in academic medical institutions or a reference to another client shouldn’t be enough – they should be able to demonstrate methodically how revenues will go up in your practice.

Reduce costs outright or control cost increases

In some fairly sophisticated implementations the reduction of costs has been proven to be possible; however outright cost reduction is still tough to gain. Controlling cost increases, however, is quite possible and is usually easier to attain because as your staff becomes familiar with their technology solutions they become more efficient over time and they are able to do more work with the same resources and staff therefore you may be able to increase the number of patients that you can see over time without increasing costs. Again, while immediate cost reductions are tough in a medical practice given that a large portion of your costs are associated with personnel, long-term cost reduction through either attrition or not having to hire new staff while still being able to increase their workload allows you to control costs better.

During the software demonstration, make sure you see how specific software features will reduce costs. You will get plenty of softballs being thrown your way about how other customers saw their costs go down or studies showing that large companies have seen the benefits. Your job as the CIO will be to force the vendor to tie cost savings specifically to use of their software, not computers in general.

Improve clinical decision making

Improving clinical decision-making is often a dubious endeavor and should not typically be the first reason you choose to implement an EMR; this is because clinical decision-making is and will remain a knowledge –based activity requiring significant training and teaching of computers before they can actually begin to improve clinical decisions. Physicians are some of the worlds’ best trained knowledge workers and they honed their clinical decision-making skills over a long period of time in very specialized training regimens that cannot easily at this time be duplicated by computers. When a vendor promises that an implementation of any EMR will improve decision-making from a clinical standpoint remain very skeptical.

Enhance documentation

Many vendors claim that their EMR’s will help improve and enhance clinical documentation. While this is very true for lead-based EMR is they are often creating much more documentation as far as quantity is concerned while likely reducing the actual quality of the information contained in the documentation. When implementing a template-based solution keep in mind that what a physician could normally easily write down in a couple of sentences will turn into many paragraphs in many pages of boilerplate text and boilerplate documentation that must then be stored red and understood by colleagues. So the promise of enhanced documentation is actually usually easy to achieve because you will get more pages of documents that are automatically generated but those pages that are generated may not necessarily be the most favorable from a clinical usefulness perspective.

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Improve patient care

Many vendors proclaim that the installation of an EMR sometimes by itself will improve patient care; if by improvement of patient care they mean actually moving patients through the different steps associated with patient care in your office in a faster and more customer friendly manner then there is some truth to that. However if by improvement of patient care the promise is to actually make people’s healthcare better or truly improve a patient’s health itself then those claims must also be seen with a skeptical eye. This is similar to the clinical decision making enhancement promises that are often made; just like clinical decisions, patient care is a very human activity and simply introducing a better record keeping system will not improve people’s health. We are an improvement in health can occur however is in the tracking of clinical goals and helping patients meet those goals by reminding patients for regular tasks.

Reduce medical errors

Reduction of medical errors is a laudable goal; and in fact many EMR’s and the use of computerized physician order entry systems can help reduce medical errors by ensuring that common clerical types of errors do not occur. When looking at medical and clinical errors those errors that can easily fit well established and known rules can be automated in a somewhat friendly and easy manner and by using such automated tools error reduction is possible.

Assessment

However, when rules become difficult to define or are not widely agreed-upon then errors associated with such rules would not be caught.

PART ONE: How to Demo and Buy an EMR Office System [Part 1 of 2]

Conclusion

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Can Politically-Correct Names Save Obamacare?

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Saving Electronic Health Record Interoperability?

1-darrellpruittBy D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

If HHS successfully persuades Americans to use happy names for its bad ideas, will the cheap trick save electronic health record interoperability which is critical to the success of Obamacare?

Healthcare Lexicon 

According to the government’s modernized healthcare lexicon, doctors have been demoted to “providers,” insurance companies, including Medicare/Medicaid, have been promoted to “payers,” and patients’ position in the hierarchy has diminished from “principals” to “stakeholders” – a rank on par with 3rd parties such as insurers, HHS and other unaccountable parasites.

Wall of Shame

Ominously, HHS recently changed the contentious name “Wall of Shame” to a more innocuous“ breach reporting tool,” to describe the public list of data breaches involving the medical records of more than 500 patients. It turns out that the growing list of major data breaches is unexpectedly shaming  far too many providers and payers – including Medicare/Medicaid. Imagine that!

In fact, since Americans’ growing disgust with privacy breaches threatens the very success of Obamacare, there is evidence that HHS has turned to betraying its lawful obligation to the nation by hiding breaches from those who are most vulnerable – Americans.

HIPAA Failure

The half-baked plan to shame providers who experience data breaches – perhaps through no fault of their own – is not working out like HHS had hoped. Due to HIPAA’s abysmal failure to halt data breaches, the Wall of Shame has become a national embarrassment and an obstacle to EHR adoption. I expect the public listing of major breaches to be quietly scrapped soon in favor of keeping patients in the dark concerning their risks of identity theft.

Dentistry 

In dentistry, on the other hand, common sense as well as market resistance evidently caused HHS and other stakeholders to give up trying to prohibit use of the 8 syllable “electronic dental records” in favor of the 14 syllable “electronic health records for dental practices.”

Nevertheless, holdouts (including Dissent Doe) still occasionally feel it is important to correct this dentists when I use “EDR” instead of “EHR.” You got to love ‘em.

Obama Care 

Assessment 

Transparent silliness suggests that HHS is failing in its duties. Due to lack of accountability, we can expect EHRs and EDRs to become even more expensive and more dangerous, possibly bringing an end to Obamacare.

Conclusion

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Do Nurses like EHRs?

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Do RNs like using electronic health records?

[A seldom considered POV]

1-darrellpruitt

BY Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Some Facebook comments:

Big problems when you have unexpected “downtimes”.

July 15 at 3:10pm · Like · 4

It is an absolute train wreck. I haven’t seen one record of mine that is not riddled with mistakes. Especially the allergies, they show me taking meds I’m allergic to and not taking meds I’m actually on. A true mess!! And now the records are all intertwined. I don’t like it at all!!

July 15 at 3:10pm · Like · 2

It is a nightmare!

July 15 at 3:18pm · Like

I retired just in time so I don’t have to deal with this fiasco.

July 15 at 3:19pm via mobile · Like · 2

IT SUCKS

July 15 at 3:19pm · Like

I don’t like them; my doctors don’t like them; how it will affect patient care is still a ‘jury out’ matter, but we can guess it will NOT help.

July 15 at 3:30pm · Like

Our Rural Community Healthcare system is just now switching over to this .. along with our hospital switching over to a totally new computer system .. the 2 systems do not talk to each other..In my personal experience I find that the “computer” world takes us away from Direct Patient Care (to busy playing “ring around the Rosie” on the computer).

July 15 at 3:40pm · Like · 4

I like them, but it is frustrating having “downtime.”

July 15 at 3:41pm · Like

I hear patients stating things like “my doctors don’t know who I am because they don’t look at me they are glued to the computer”. It saddens me patients feel less valued. I’ve worked in places where they’ve had paper charts and places computerized. Seems the computers are redundant and I personally prefer paper charts. Chart one assessment not one assessment 4 different places.

July 15 at 3:44pm via mobile · Like · 3

It looks to me like physicians are cutting and pasting old histories and physicals, complete with the errors. Doctors in a local ER charted complete physicals on me when they did not get closer than 5 feet away. The records are difficult to read, difficult to find information; and it is not number in chronological order.

July 15 at 3:47pm · Like

I dislike it. Besides the down time, I find it very impersonal. I don’t feel as if I am giving my full attention to my pt, nor do I feel my PCP is hearing what I’m saying . They are too busy putting in info on the computer. As for the down time you then have to work late to put in the info gathered while the system is down.

July 15 at 3:47pm via mobile · Like · 2

eHRs

Assessment

https://www.facebook.com/friendanurse/posts/654085127954821

More: On DIgital Deaths

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-25/digital-health-records-risks-emerge-as-deaths-blamed-on-systems.html

(50+ other comments)

Conclusion

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The Flaws of Electronic Records

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Reporting on an Op-Ed by Drexel University’s Scot Silverstein

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

pruittRecently, on Philly.com, I read the following interesting essay and counter-opinion.

“The flaws of electronic records – Drexel University’s Scot Silverstein is a leading critic of the rapid switch to computerized medical charts, saying the notion that they prevent more mistakes than they cause is not proven.”

by Jay Hancock, writing in:

KAISER HEALTH NEWS.

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20130218_The_flaws_of_electronic_records.html

Do you recall that I advised dentists to wait a year or so before purchasing electronic dental records?

Dr. Silverstein warns Hancock that we’re in the midst of “a mania” as traditional patient charts are switched to computers. “We know it causes harm, and we don’t even know the level of magnitude. That statement alone should be the basis for the greatest of caution and slowing down.”

Silverstein Speaks

Silverstein tells Hancock that he doesn’t discount the potential of digital records to eliminate duplicate scans and alert doctors to drug interactions and unsuspected dangers.

“But, the rush to implementation has produced badly designed products that may be more likely to confound doctors than enlighten them, he says. Electronic health records, Silverstein believes, should be rigorously tested under government supervision before being used in life-and-death situations, much like medical hardware or airplanes.”

Physician George Lundberg, editor at large for MedPage Today, says Silverstein “is an essential critic of the field,” and that “It’s too easy for those of us in medicine to get excessively enthusiastic about things that look like they’re going to work out really well. Sometimes we go too far and don’t see the downside of things.”

Hancock Writes

Hancock writes. “Many say he comes on too strong.” Remind you of anyone? It’s easy to fall into a habit of “coming on too strong” once politeness proves ineffective and not nearly as much fun.

Silverstein points out that since the government doesn’t require caregivers to report problems, “many computer-induced mistakes may never surface.”

In dentistry, EHR stakeholders bury computer-induced mistakes even deeper by ignoring and even censoring dentists’ concerns about cost and safety.

Shah Opines

Furthermore, ME-P thought-leader Shahid N. Shah MS opines in Chapter 4 of the book: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Chapter 13: IT, eMRs & GroupWare

And … Pruitt Wonders?

I sincerely wonder how many dentists have been kicked off of DrBicuspid, DentalTown, Dental Economics and LinkedIn for pointing out dangerous flaws in advertisers’ dental products. I offered to start a listing of the censored, but got no response. Nevertheless, I bet I’m not the only one.

Assessment

More opinions from ME-P contributors and essayists:

Conclusion

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