What can a single practitioner do with all the data? Another benefit to having an EHR.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

There are multitudes of patient data that are generated from medical practices, hospitals, rehab centers, etc. This data encompasses demographics and the tracking and trending of care, treatments and diseases. This data is the primary source of data for Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance carriers via claims submissions from healthcare facilities. But what does the additional data that is captured through EHRs mean to a single practitioner?

Data is a valuable resource. It is generated from the practice management (PM) module and provides a multitude of reports, primarily accounts receivable. A physician can have an immediate snapshot of how long it is taking insurance carriers to process and pay claims and for a patient to pay their bill. Physicians know how much has been billed, what has been billed, and when to expect reimbursement. The PM module can provide patient demographics, median age of population, number of patients seen per day, week or month. It also knows what services have been billed and which code is used the most frequently - this information can be drilled down to specifically the amount of revenue each provider is producing. The PM system also tracks appointments scheduled, no shows and types of appointments that are being filled or left open.

With the introduction of an EHR into a practice, clinical data will now be more accessible and with it, improved quality of care. The very basic information that an EHR system should be able to track is: medication prescribed, dosages, outcomes and usage, patient vitals and weight fluctuations. Also, lab and X-Ray orders can be generated and monitored as to whether or not a patient is compliant. For example, with this preliminary information and a few simple keystrokes a physician can have the history of a cardiac patient’s blood work, what medications they have been prescribed, any drug interactions, and whether or not the medication is effective. Additionally, at the physician’s fingertips are social and family histories, diet and any pertinent history that can be analyzed.  This information can be reviewed in a matter of moments and as a result of this clinical documentation the physician can make solid treatment recommendations. The end result is improved quality of care.

The not so obvious benefits from having an EHR include:  tracking how long appointments take with certain diagnosis. Which provider spends more time with their patients, which employee is addressing patient messages in a timely manner, which patients are more involved in their own care.  The system can also tell the practice who is in need of a flu shot and who received sample medication that has now been recalled, for example.  

Additional benefits include:
Increased awareness and marketing opportunities, increased communication with patients, generate health maintenance alerts, appointment reminders along with,  improve practice productivity, reducing operational costs, improved documentation, solving the E/M compliance issues and on-line medical access.   

However, data gathering is not automatic and requires a conscientious staff to generate and produce quality information. Data integrity must be maintained through completeness, consistency, accuracy and timeliness and with the acknowledgement that without quality documentation the data can be skewed and inadequate.

The opportunities that sound data can generate are endless.
– Lisa Smaga, Director of Ambulatory Consulting
Category: Healthy Practices