Signs That it Might be Time to Switch Your Orthopedic EHR System

by Jason Weisstein, MD, MPH, FACS | Dec 11, 2018 | , , ,

Eight questions to ask yourself to decide if it’s time for a new EHR 

The best technology today is designed to be user-friendly and to make your life easier, and the same should be said about your orthopedic electronic health record (EHR) system. If your current EHR system has slowed down your workflow or negatively impacted the efficiency of your orthopedic practice, it may be time for you to consider switching to another system that is a better fit. In my almost 20 years of practice as an orthopedic surgeon and as the medical director of orthopedics at a leading healthcare technology company, I have put together a list of key questions you should ask yourself about your current EHR system to help you determine if it’s time to consider a new orthopedic EHR.

Your EHR Creates More Work for You and Your Staff

Do you and your staff spend countless hours customizing your EHR system’s features and building orthopedic templates?

Many general EHR systems are not specialty-specific and can require you to spend hours creating and customizing orthopedic templates that fit your workflow. Your orthopedic EMR should contain the orthopedic diagnoses and treatment plans that are relevant to you, simplifying initial implementation and avoiding time-consuming template creation.

EMA™, Modernizing Medicine’s orthopedic EHR system, was built by orthopedic surgeons who know what orthopedists need. Right out of the box, EMA comes preloaded with over 550 chief complaints, 4,750 diagnoses and 1,950 orthopedic treatment plans and procedures.

Tara Salsman, office manager at Illinois Valley Community Hospital Medical Group, explains, “We are busy seeing patients, so we don’t have time to spend customizing our EHR system. EMA comes equipped with a plethora of diagnoses to handle the types of orthopedic problems we see, which is very important to us. You can pull it out of the box and go, it’s that easy to use, and the outcome of the note is professional and captures the relevant information.”

If your EHR was not designed to fit your orthopedic workflow and hinders the efficiency of your practice, it may be time to consider a true orthopedic EHR.

You Spend More Time Documenting Than Treating

Do you spend more time clicking through endless menus and typing visit notes than treating your patients?

Your EHR should be a tool that supports your orthopedic practice, not hinders it. Some EHR systems provide very broad general exam options, which result in excessive clicking and typing during the patient exam to document the relevant information. Even worse, you may have to complete visit notes outside of the exam room hours or days later when you can find the time, which can have a domino effect on the billing and claims process.

The orthopedic content offered in EMA not only eases implementation, it may also help shorten and simplify patient exams. On top of that, EMA’s adaptive learning technology can recognize your unique practice preferences and can even suggest your top diagnoses and associated treatment plans. EMA is designed to be mobile-friendly with an intuitive interface that is easy to use, which may help save time during patient exams.

Making the switch to an orthopedic EHR could minimize unnecessary clicking and typing and add time back into your day, allowing you to focus on what really matters – your patients.

Limited Interoperability

Do you have to manually enter information? Or wait for your EHR vendor to build custom bridges to your PACS or physical therapy systems?

To provide the best care for your patients, your orthopedic EHR should be able to communicate and share information with various healthcare IT systems to assemble a comprehensive picture of each individual patient’s health. You should find out if your orthopedic EHR system has achieved ONC HIT 2015 Edition EHR Certification, which means it is able to exchange data with other CEHRTs using the latest and greatest ONC specifications and to help complete MIPS Promoting Interoperability (PI) measures. Your orthopedic EHR should be able to interface with a variety of clinical labs, vital sign monitoring devices, PACS imaging systems, hospital information systems (HIEs) and physical therapy systems. It may be time to move on if your orthopedic EHR doesn’t play well with others.

You can read more about interoperability with Modernizing Medicine.

Expensive Onsite Servers and Equipment

Are you squeezing your budget to pay for server and equipment updates or replacements?

Server-based technologies tend to be dated, slow and lacking in data protection. A cloud, orthopedic EHR system should function as a software as a service (SaaS) solution and provide scalability, mobility, and reduced IT costs compared to a locally-hosted, server-based EHR. With a cloud-based system, you don’t need to house expensive servers at your practice, as the vendor takes responsibility for storing and securing your data.

Additionally, EMA’s native iPad app offering makes it extremely mobile and easy to use from virtually anywhere. With cloud-based technology, updates download automatically, which helps reduce the amount of manual effort and time needed and costs for system maintenance.

Read more on the differences between cloud and server technologies.

Outdated Technology and Medical Content

Do you feel like your EHR is always behind the times and updates are few and far between?

A good orthopedic EHR system should undergo frequent updates and improvements to help the products stay up to date on changes in the orthopedic field. As your practice grows, your orthopedic EHR should grow with you. A customer-focused EHR company should transform customer needs and feedback into enhancements and improvements in the orthopedic EHR. If you have experienced a lack of innovation in your current orthopedic EHR, it may be time for a change.

Unprepared for Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)

Do you spend countless hours and resources researching government rules for MIPS and digging through your EHR for relevant data for reporting?

Your orthopedic EHR should help you proactively collect your MIPS data and make reporting easy. EMA has a built-in MIPS solution that can help capture your orthopedic MIPS data within the flow of the exam and can track your estimated composite score. On top of the built-in tool, Modernizing Medicine offers premium one-on-one MIPS advising services to assist you with planning and to monitor your progress to help you achieve MIPS success.

Skyler Fierro, chief executive officer at Innovative Healthcare Business Solutions, said, “The MIPS dashboard in EMA is phenomenal. The ease of submitting is beyond anything I’ve seen from other vendors. EMA is the only EHR system we experienced that is prepared and didn’t require a lot more work or time. We can simply submit the data directly through EMA instead of having to export it and upload into a registry to submit.”

If your current EHR lacks a connection to reporting registries and you can’t view your estimated MIPS score before submitting, this may be yet another clue it’s time to make a switch. An orthopedic EHR with a built-in MIPS solution should be on your checklist when vetting a potential new solution.

Unclear Operational and Financial Performance

Do you have difficulty accessing and understanding your practice’s data provided by your EHR?

On daily basis, your practice collects valuable data about your patients and your operations, and your EHR should be able to present that data in an easily digestible format. This data can give you valuable insights into your performance—uncovering ways to potentially improve your practice.

Modernizing Medicine’s Data Solutions provide analytical tools with a variety of data delivery formats that can be tailored to meet your individual practice’s needs. The structured data approach can empower you with the flexibility and autonomy to monitor and analyze your practice’s clinical, operational and financial performance. If your current EHR provides limited data or the data is not presented in an understandable format, it may be time to consider other orthopedic EHR options.

Poor Customer Service and Technical Support

When you reach out to your EHR vendor support team do they take days to get back to you? Or do you feel like your concerns and requests are overlooked?

As consumers, we know a positive or negative customer service experience can make or break your opinion about a company and may even make you consider alternatives. The EHR vendor you work with should have a clear process for submitting requests and they should provide responsive support. Understand and ask where the company’s support team is based too. Are they stateside? A company that employs individuals with a real-world clinical background is always a nice bonus as well.

Outside of traditional support channels, you should have access to a knowledge base complete with webinars, helpful guides, videos and message boards to learn not just from the EHR company’s staff but from other active clients. Ongoing education and support are essential to long-term success of your orthopedic EHR.

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of the questions above, then it may be time to say ‘yes’ to a new orthopedic EHR. If the amount of effort, added costs and frustration with your current EHR system are not worth it anymore, know that you have other options. Your orthopedic EHR vendor should serve as a valuable member of your team, helping to improve the clinical, operational and financial aspects of your practice.

Want to find out how EMA can help optimize your orthopedic practice?

Jason Weisstein, MD, MPH, FACS

Jason Weisstein, MD, MPH, FACS

Medical Director of Orthopedics at Modernizing Medicine

Dr. Jason Weisstein is the Medical Director of Orthopedics. A native of southern California, he graduated Valedictorian from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City in 1998. Simultaneous with his medical education, Dr. Weisstein received a masters of public health at Columbia University in New York, NY. He subsequently completed his surgical internship and orthopedic surgery residency training at the University of California, San Francisco, and then went on to receive fellowship training at the University of Washington. Dr. Weisstein specializes in joint replacement and limb salvage surgery. His interest lies in the restoration of function in limbs that are in jeopardy, either from arthritis, tumors or other diseases. He currently serves as the Director of both the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement and the Center for Musculoskeletal Oncology at the Paley Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla. He also serves as an Affiliate Assistant Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

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