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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 1/7/11

January 7, 2011 News No Comments

2011: Here We Go…

Ok, the New Year is here, and along with it, the onset of the deluge of EMR adoption resulting from ARRA/HITECH/Meaningful Use. Right?…Right?

Well, as the old Chinese philosopher said, “We’ll see.”

While I’m a huge fan of all this high tech mumbo jumbo and its associated doohickeymabobs, and I think, at least in Ohio and maybe another state or two, the RECs will be doing some bust-their-humps work to get docs online and digitally engaged, I’m still personally very inclined to agree with the aforementioned unnamed Chinese guru. It’s gonna be an interesting next few years in HIT-dom.

Meanwhile, patients keep coming and docs keep doctoring and my colleagues and cohorts at OHIP’s REC (Ohio’s primary REC) keep slaving away to try and figure out how to get all of us in healthcare, providers and patients alike, into not just the New Year, but finally into the current millennium.

And, me? I believe that this is all heading the right direction. It is way more complicated than most HIT sales folks want potential buyers to believe, but it is totally doable. And, it is totally worth it – even if your vendor leaves you seeking a new EMR just when you thought you were really getting into a good groove (…he said, with only the slightest hint of snark).

Back out on the EMR hunt, I remembered a tool I first became familiar with well after I had already started using an EMR. It’s a tool designed to help providers evaluate their practices’ current state of readiness, calculate the strategic workflow changes necessary, and guide the resulting EMR/EHR selection process. No, it really isn’t designed to be used for those practices that are already digital and which are considering a jump to a different system, but I wondered if the insights it provides might be helpful nonetheless.

I learned it back in 2009 when its primary visionary brought it to my attention at that year’s Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit. He asked me to take a look and provide comments. I became a big fan, but primarily from an academic perspective as I didn’t really need direct help from the tool, but felt many of my non-tech-infatuated colleagues might. It seemed to provide all of the better parts of an HIT consultant service, but at much lower cost and at a self-determined pace.

So, remembering its design, I decided to step back and look at this tool with my own needs in mind.

The short take? I’m an even bigger fan. I have discussed a few ideas with the developers some redesigns they might consider for future iterations to direct a side-path for practices seeking to change not from paper to EHR, but from EHR to EHR. Nevertheless, a more intimate deep dive into this tool has me decidedly happy with my decision to look at it from my “new needs” view.

It isn’t designed to be all things to all people. It doesn’t cover all the potential EMRs and EHRs out there. It doesn’t even try. (Would you?) But it does help providers, especially small practices, consider many of the ramifications and decision points necessary when considering a transition to an EHR, whether newbie or veteran. And, it does so in a very cost-effective, time- and workflow-conscious fashion.

The tool? Welch Allyn’s EHR Prep-Select. I can’t say it’ll be all things to all providers heading down this EHR hunt road, but I can say – with even more personal insight than ever – that it is one of my favorite recommendations when colleagues ask me about ways to help prepare for digitization.

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!” – Joey Adams


Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, directs the “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the Professional Advisory Council for ModernMedicine.com. More of his blather…er, writings…can be found at his blog, practice web site or directly from doc@madisonpediatric.com.

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