The Two Types of Data Healthcare Providers Need

  Speaking at the Familias en Accion’s Latino Health Equity Conference in late June, Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio, director of health equity at Families USA, pointed to electronic health records or electronic medical records as an important source of information when it comes to uncovering patient populations that aren’t getting adequate care for chronic health problems. But at the same time, she emphasized that there are “two universes of data” healthcare providers always need to continue balancing. What are those two universes? Here’s what doctors, especially those working in family practice, need to be thinking about: Electronic Records and the Potential for Big Data If you haven’t already gotten started with a family practice EHR or EMR software, now’s the time to do so. These medical software systems offer numerous benefits. Some of those are internal (such as the 6% annual efficiency increase offered by an EHR). Others, such as the financial incentives offered by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, are external (as of 2013, 69% of physicians were intending to participate in those incentive programs). But the rapid adoption of family practice EHR systems has also created the potential for insight garnered from “big data” — that is, the mining of the enormous data sets those EHR systems create. Consider this; of the physicians who don’t yet have EHR software, nearly half are planning to get started with a system in the next year. That means that soon, very few patients won’t be represented in the data in one way or another. Soft Data and the Value of Personal Stories In the fervor to support electronic systems and big data,...

EMR Software Just Unveiled the Hidden Dangers of Common Antacids

  Another day, another example of how electronic medical records or electronic health records can lead to much more than just better health outcomes for individual patients. When the issue of EMR software comes up, the debate normally weighs some potential downsides (a 2014 survey done by the American College of Physicians showed, for example, that doctors spend 48 more minutes per day on family practice EMRs than they would on paper records) against some very clear upsides (such as a 6% increase in overall efficiency). Overwhelmingly, the trend has leaned toward converting to electronic records, with 78% of office-based physicians using at least a basic electronic record system as of 2013, a 60% increase since 2001. The rapidly increased usage of EMR software has done something else, too: created an enormous amount of data that can help doctors and scientists uncover previously unknown risks. Example: Heart Attack Risks From Antacids A large new study carried out by Houston Methodist and Stanford University researchers found from examining 16 million clinical documents recorded in EMRs that people who use certain common antacids are 16%-21% more likely to have heart attacks. These antacids, called proton pump inhibitors, include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid. Around 113 million prescriptions for these drugs are written every single year around the globe. The study wasn’t designed in such a way that it can claim a cause-and-effect relationship between the medications and heart attacks, but the researchers did say that the association is clear and would not have been visible without the ability to mine such massive amounts of data. The study was published June 10 in...

Study: Using Family Practice EHRs to Improve Insurance Stability

Study: Using Family Practice EHRs to Improve Insurance Stability Most of the time on this blog, we focus on how electronic health records or electronic medical records affect physicians (especially primary care physicians). And, although one 2014 survey of the American College of Physicians member sample found that family practice physicians were spending 48 minutes per day on electronic records, the effects of family practice EHR software are generally very positive. Electronic records improve efficiency by a tidy 6% per year, and federal incentives have made getting started with EHRs a smart financial move. As of 2013 — getting newer data is difficult — 69% of physicians reported that they had already applied or intended to apply for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. But now a new study is looking at how family practice EHRs affect patients — or more specifically, their insurance coverage. Study Details Health insurance is closely related to overall health, but it’s sometimes difficult for patients to keep track of their information. Or in other cases, patients are unaware of the choices that they have regarding coverage. Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University wanted to know if the information recorded in EHRs could enable primary care physicians to validate insurance coverage and then help patients to enroll in or retain their health insurance to provide them with more stable care. In order to test whether EHR data could be accurately used for this purpose, the researchers compared three separate data sets for the same 69,189 pediatric patients, all of whom were being treated in 96 different clinics included in the Oregon Community...

Electronic Health Records Shown to Boost HPV Vaccination Rates in New Study

There can be little debate these days over whether electronic health records or electronic medical records are part of the future of medicine. It’s hard to gather up-to-the-moment data, but we know that as of 2001, only 18% of office-based physicians used EHR or EMR software; as of 2011, that figure had risen to 55%, and by 2013, it was at 78%. Basic EHR adoption went up 21% between 2012 and 2013 alone. The debate, now, is what exactly medical software companies should be focusing on in terms of the capabilities of these EHRs, and how they can be tied into other medical software systems for better overall efficiency and patient health. What might those changes look like in practice? One recent study looking at HPV vaccination rates provides a perfect example of how the various features incorporated into EHRs by medical software companies can make a difference. Study Details A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine this month wanted to see how different EHR systems could be used to affect vaccination rates for human papillomavirus, or HPV. For the study, the research team divided 15,000 patients into two groups. Half of those patients were treated by healthcare providers whose EHRs included alerts about HPV vaccination opportunities; the other half were treated by providers whose EHRs did not include that function. Study Findings It appears that the alerts were extremely successful in improving vaccination rates. The patients of providers receiving alerts were more likely both to begin the series of HPV vaccine injections and to complete them; patients aged 9-18 were three times...

Are you ready for ICD-10? Part II

Is Your Practice Ready for ICD-10?   AntWorks’ Practice Management System is. Hopefully, by now your office has started thinking about the implementation of the International Classification of Disease codes, revision 10(ICD-10).  As you most likely know the decision was made to move the deadline from October 1st, 2014 to October 1st, 2015.  All indications are that it is really going to happen this time. Has your office started thinking about ICD-10 implementation? This classification of diseases and related health issues is supported and promoted by the World Health Organization(WHO).   Many countries around the world have already started using this latest classification.  In fact, countries like Australia and Sweden have been using this latest revision since the late 1990’s. Now, it is past time for the United States to jump on board.  CMS has determined that all practices and insurances companies start communicating using the ICD-10 format starting on October 1st of 2015.  But, it is never too early to start getting your practice prepared for the change.  Medical software companies, insurance providers and electronic clearinghouses are already in the process of testing and preparing their software and connections for this change. In fact AntWorks Practice Management software has been ICD-10 ready for over a year. Our software fully supports upgrading your practice to, and the ongoing usage of the ICD-10 code set.   What does this mean for your Practice?   1. Become familiar with the new ICD-10 code set. The code set allows more than 14,400 different codes and permits the tracking of many new diagnoses. The codes can be expanded to over 16,000 codes by using optional sub-classifications.  The basic...