“Buying In” to Health Information Technology

By Tina-Marie Spellman, MHA

For many small physician practices, the leap to cyber space and Electronic Health Records has been a big step. Interestingly, more than 25% of Georgia physicians have not yet implemented Electronic Health Records in their practice.  If you are one of these late adopters, or if you are unhappy with your current billing and practice management system, here are several things to consider in your strategic plan for 2016.

  1. Not all vendors are the same.  Look for a vendor that offers a completely integrated system, and can be designed for your specialty.
  2. There are two types of systems.  Cloud based or Server based.  Cloud based is the most attractive because it can be accessed from anywhere.  It is safe and secure through certified encryption, and your data is stored off site from your medical facility.  Usually, the data is stored in at least two places so that there is a disaster plan in place to recover your data if it is necessary.
  3. Training is a very important part of the total package you purchase.  It’s not enough to have initial training.  Look for a company that will continue to provide training to your physicians and staff as changes happen in the software and in the reporting requirements.
  4. Updates are also an area to consider.  A Cloud based software will have automatic updates, versus paying the vendor to send you a software update and then paying an IT person to install the update on your system.
  5. Customer service and response time is imperative.  You cannot take care of your patients if you have system problems that go unresolved.  Look for A+ rated companies in the area of customer service.
  6. Consultants can help you determine your needs and then offer several system demonstrations that meet your criteria.
  7. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reports the average cost per full-time equivalent physician for Health Information Technology (includes billing, electronic health records, and all health related technology) to be $20,693.

If you are still not convinced you need electronic health records, consider that in 2014, 40% of Commercial Health Plan products started moving toward outcomes based payments.  Can you and your staff meet the criteria for reporting on patient outcomes while still using a paper method?  Health information technology can improve the quality of patient care by improving records management, workflow optimization, and HIPAA compliance.  The Medical Group Management Association states that by 2017, CMS will use Patient Quality Reporting Data (PQRS) and Value Based Payment Modifier (VBPM) to modify payments for all groups and solo practitioners.

But how can you absorb more cost into an already downward spiraling profit margin?  By creating a patient focused system within your office and using the technology you purchase to its full potential.  There is redundancy and inefficiency in medical practices that can be improved with the right training and the right technology.  Use your technology to perform those tasks that can be done by the technology, and use your staff to be more patient focused, allowing you to ensure happy, healthy, and satisfied patients and a healthy bottom line to your practice.

Tina-Marie Spellman, MHA is a Senior Business Consultant with Accu-Med Revenue Solutions, LLC.  She can be reached at (678) 787-3596 or Tina.Spellman@accumedrevenuesolutions.com