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Industry Insight

Physicians Practice Finds Rate of EHR Adoption Remains Steady

UBM Medica US’ Physicians Practice 2012 Technology Survey, sponsored by AT&T, found that 72% of US healthcare providers surveyed are in some stage of EHR adoption.

Despite government financial incentives rewarding physicians who adopt EHR systems, adoption has leveled off as providers continue to complain about high up-front costs and other challenges to making the transition, according to the survey of 1,300 outpatient practices, taken late in 2011 and early this year by Physicians Practice, a business publication for physicians. Findings in the survey include the following:

• Twenty-nine percent of those without an EHR cited high cost as the reason, more than any other factor.

• A tipping point already has been reached, whereby more doctors are using the technology than aren’t, and the holdouts are now at a competitive disadvantage.

• Hospitals have been acquiring community practices in efforts to increase market share and achieve hospital-physician alignment, and those newly acquired practices will adopt their hospitals’ EHR systems.

• Technology vendors are responding to physician concerns, offering access to affordable products via the cloud and adapting their products for use on mobile devices, especially the iPad, which doctors are purchasing in high numbers.

• The days of paper-based healthcare recordkeeping are coming to an end.

“The main obstacle for EHR holdouts is money,” explained Bob Keaveney, editorial director of Physicians Practice. “But among physicians, especially in private practice, there is also a deep well of skepticism—even resentment—about federal incentives programs that are designed to get doctors to behave in particular ways. For example, when Medicare introduced a program to drive quality by paying a ‘bonus’ to physicians who stick to particular clinical protocols for many patients, a lot of doctors balked. They felt manipulated. Right or wrong, I think that many of the EHR holdouts view this incentive program in the same light: as just another attempt to control doctors.”

As a companion to this year’s survey results, Physicians Practice also identifies five HIT trends for 2012, talking to physicians and technology experts to identify major trends at practices nationwide.

— Source: UBM Medica US


Hawaiian Health Information Exchange Expands Through Partnership

The Hawai’i Island Beacon Community (HIBC) has begun to expand the region’s first health information exchange (HIE) following a successful pilot phase that began last December at North Hawai’i Community Hospital. The HIE facilitates safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care within the connected healthcare community across Hawai’i Island. It enables doctors to easily view and share patient records from participating hospitals, doctors’ offices, imaging centers, pharmacies, laboratories, and other practices. It also facilitates secure doctor-to-doctor messaging for referrals and consultations and establishes the foundation for care coordination across the region. This HIE also can connect to other regional HIEs and eventually the Nationwide Health Information Network.

The HIE was designed in collaboration with the physicians and technology leadership at North Hawai’i Community Hospital, HIBC, Alere Wellogic, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Key facts about the program include the following:

• The first live HIE on Hawai’i Island now connects doctors in north Hawai’i.

• Charter participants are NHCH, affiliated physicians, and their reference laboratories and imaging centers.

• Authorized doctors and their staff have easy and immediate access to patient information across all connected venues of care, from emergency departments to specialist offices.

• The shared information is harmonized for easy review and to enable decision support.

• Doctors and staff already observe positive impact on information availability, operational efficiency, and patient care.

• This project lays the foundation for Alere Wellogic’s EHR, wireless diagnostic devices, decision support, analytics, care coordination, and population health reporting functions.

Care providers can more easily and securely communicate, collaborate, and coordinate patient care. For example, emergency department doctors can now view patient histories kept by primary care physicians, preventing adverse events in situations when seconds can make a difference. In turn, primary care doctors can receive and view information regarding their patients’ admissions and discharges. Alere Wellogic’s HIE visual presentation also compiles that information into a single sophisticated screen that enables care providers to see the information and trends on their computer or iPad quickly and easily.

— Source: Alere Wellogic


eHealth Collaborative Announces Grants to Advance HIE

The Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative has awarded $6 million in grants to four organizations to engage in regional and statewide exchange of electronic health information. Grants of $1.5 million each were awarded to HealthShare of Southeastern PA, Inc in Philadelphia; Highmark HIE, LLC in Pittsburgh; Lehigh Valley Hospital, Inc in Allentown; and St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem.

The four recipients will use the grants to connect hospitals, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to a health information exchange (HIE). The recipients will then connect to a technical platform that will enable interoperability among participating HIEs. The platform also will provide access to provider directory, patient index, and record-locator services. Providing these shared services centrally will avoid cost replication among users seeking to securely exchange health information.

The local and regional HIEs already operating in Pennsylvania have only a limited ability to share information with each other.

“Health information exchange is shown to improve healthcare quality, safety, and efficiency, while at the same time reducing costs and making care more convenient for patients,” says Robert Torres, Pennsylvania’s HIT coordinator. “These grants will spur the development and use of health information exchange capacity across the state.

“Our goal is three-fold: we want to build capacity for exchanging health information, increase connectivity and the flow of patient information, and facilitate the movement toward nationwide interoperability,” Torres says.

— Source: Pennsylvania Office of Administration


Emdat Partners With HealthCo Information Systems

Emdat Inc, a provider of documentation solutions that complement EHR use with time- and cost-saving features, recently announced its partnership with HealthCo Information Systems.

An exclusive partner of GE Healthcare with more than 600 physician practice clients, HealthCo offers GE Healthcare’s Centricity Practice Solution for EMRs and practice management in a 12-state region. Having witnessed the successful integration of the Emdat platform with Centricity, HealthCo saw that joining forces with Emdat could further its mission of offering innovative solutions that drive success for their clients. Emdat’s ability to use dictation to automatically populate EHRs while preserving the clinical narrative can be a key factor in successful EHR adoption and both clinician and patient satisfaction.

Emdat’s mobile app allows physicians to fully document encounters from anywhere with a Wi-Fi network or cellular data connection. Extensive templating capabilities and practice management data feeds not only maximize the dictation process but also limit documentation costs by reducing the amount of typing required.

— Source: Emdat, Inc