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Keeping Up with Constant Change in Healthcare Regulations and EHR Systems

Published: January 24, 2014
In the current environment of ever-changing healthcare regulations and reporting, such as the Affordable Care Act and Meaningful Use, many hospitals and physician practices are faced with the difficult decision to move to a new Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform.

Recent surveys suggest up to 50% of current EHR buyers are not first-time buyers.   These surveys suggest that there are several reasons that drive decision to shop for a replacement EHR system. 

Common themes include:

Interoperability:  Hospital systems, especially those purchasing physician practices are moving toward single (or at least fewer) supported ambulatory EHR systems to support the need for integrated clinical systems.

Federal Requirements:  Current EHR will not meet newest federal requirements, specifically not ONC-2014 Certified.  While many EHR vendors certified their EHR systems for Stage 1 meaningful use, far fewer have certified their systems for use under Stage 2 requirements. 

Functionality:  As a practice becomes more familiar and sophisticated in the use of their EHR system it is discovered that the EHR solution cannot be expanded to further enhance the practice’s services.  Sometimes it becomes apparent that the system is not suited for the practice specialty or specialties.  To keep current an EHR needs to offer advanced features such as patient engagement tools including portals, population health management, ad-hoc reporting, etc.

Support:  The EHR vendor is simply not responsive to requests and needs.  Despite promises, meetings and concierge service agreements, the system remains fragile and feature starved.

When changing EHR systems, many hospitals and physician practices have underestimated the effort required to extract clinical data.  They quickly find they are faced with large data volumes, fragmented environments with varying data structures, and often data quality issues. This can lead to inefficiencies in both process and the reusability of the original system’s data. Because there are no standards, mandated or voluntary, of clinical terminology across health care domains, the mapping of key data fields can be a lengthy and error-ridden process.

Tribridge’s healthcare consulting team has spent an extensive amount of time working with healthcare organizations on both acquisition and system integration efforts.   We understand the data and the challenges involved in moving EHR data from one system to another.  To overcome the differences between systems and even between system versions, we’ve developed a transition methodology and accompanying toolset to capture key data elements such as patient demographics, progress notes, patient histories, orders and results.   Our experience indicates that the most effective way to address legacy data requirements is through the use of PDF documents for legal/patient medical record retention.  Consequently only a small subset of data must be converted to build a baseline patient chart in the new EHR system.

We have successfully helped many organizations through the difficult EHR transition process, assisted our clients to eliminate costly maintenance and support of legacy systems and retain legal medical records while moving as quickly and painlessly (as possible) to a new health record platform.   Our team of experts is happy to discuss how they can support your healthcare organization as you move through the challenges of acquisition, integration or the implementation of a new EHR system.  

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