Since the federal government launched the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, more than 238,139 healthcare providers have registered for the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Hospitals and eligible providers (physicians) that participate in the program, deploy an EHR and prove they are using it to enhance daily operations can receive checks from CMS if they attest for meaningful use.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of practices have yet to get on board. Some have approached the transition from paper charts to digital health records with caution despite a number of promised benefits.
“EHRs serve as the fundamental building blocks to digitizing all future health care data. This digital age will help reduce medical errors and redundant patient testing, while improving access and storage of patient information,” said Peter Tippett from the Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions practice group.
To help cautious practices move forward with adoption plans, Verizon has suggested the following tips for adoption:
1. Take a patient-centered approach that will improve the quality of care. Physicians should make sure that EHR adoption doesn’t get in the way of patient-doctor relationships.
2. Include security precautions in the adoption plan, especially if practices anticipate using mobile devices.
3. Keep HIPAA compliance in mind when installing a system and training staff. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires doctors to protect patients’ confidential records.
4. Consider workflow and how it will change as staff members start to use the new documenting systems. By allowing adequate time for training, physicians can navigate potential workflow challenges so they can realize the benefits sooner.
5. Communicate with, and educate staff to make the transition smoother. When all of the practice’s members are on board, know how to use the systems and understand the policies, adoption will be easier.
6. Involve the entire staff in the deployment process. By appointing a health IT leader, the practice can set up a structured shift and start measuring the effects of the new system.
7. Take staff preferences into consideration when choosing an EHR. If physicians like tablet platforms, the practice might want to pick a system that can use cloud-based technology.
8. Adopt early to allow plenty of time for mistakes and adjustments.
When practices adopt an EHR, they can benefit from increased efficiency in the office and more accurate records on top of the incentives offered by the CMS.