What are some advantages that electronic health records (EHR) have over traditional paper-based medical records (besides the HIPAA regulation requiring medical practices to do so)?
Here’s a partial list:
– EHRs are accessible at multiple locations. You don’t have to physically carry them from one location to another.
– EHRs offer a more unified, comprehensive understanding of a patient’s state of health. Any medical professional authorized to access a patient’s EHR will know that patient’s overall state health as well as which medications she’s taking and which she’s allergic to, which enables better clinical decisions.
– EHRs help improve efficiencies and limit redundant actions, such as repeated testing and biopsies.
Unlike paper-based records, EHRs can be backed up more easily and with more granularity. If a hospital or medical practice experiences a tornado or other natural disaster, an EHR solution combined with a robust BDR solution enables that practice to get up and running almost instantly, no matter where that practice had to relocate.
“The main point of EHR is for a clinician to open a patient chart at any point in time, regardless of where they are. If you’re relying on paper charts, and the chart isn’t available for whatever reason, the clinician will have to resort to memory. That’s really the difference,” says Steven Saslow, vice president of business development at Information Technology Group (ITG), a StorageCraft partner.
However, the process of converting paper records into digital ones is a hassle, to say the least. Just the scanning of patient charts is a painstaking and time-consuming task. To migrate a paper-based patient record into an EHR requires you to:
- Remove charts and related documentation from the folder;
- Remove staples and otherwise organize the various pieces of paper, most of which are of different sizes, so that they are in an order where the document feeder can read them;
- Scan those documents into the EHR software;
- Manipulate the images within the EHR software so that everything matches up with the paper version of the patient’s folder; and
- Save to the appropriate patient’s chart.
For what it’s worth, that list was as dull for me to write as it was for you to read. Saslow says practices typically will hire college kids for no more than three-to-four hours at a clip to do the work.
What the MSP’s role in all this?
As an MSP, you will not be required to help out with actual document scanning, but your responsibilities will be vast. In short, you’ll be the architect and project manager of the system that ultimately is set up. “As architects, we help [a medical practice] do due diligence. We have management consultants who understand the practice as a business, including things like workflows, profit centers, and billing procedures, and they talk with practice administrators about what their EHR requirements are,” explains Saslow. Those consultants then work with EHR vendors to determine the best EHR solution candidates for the practice.
Once that part is figured out, the MSP’s sales engineers work with the practice throughout the sales process, helping them with demos and tests to help the practice choose the best platform for the organization. Once that is finalized, the MSP installs the infrastructure on which the EHR solution will run and act as project managers to orchestrate the transition smoothly.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to the process than what I’ve just described. In my next post, I’ll discuss the particulars about the MSP’s role, along with some essential tips to make the EHR migration process as smooth as possible for a medical practice seeking to make this move to the digital side.
Photo Credit: Adrian Clark via Flickr