Could EMRs Save Health Care? Is a Medical Scribe the Answer?

Posted by Allison Dewan on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 11:13 AM

A recent article in the Houston Business Journal, titled, "How EMRs will save health care" looks at some of the benefits of EMRs and how the technology is aiding many in the healthcare industry. 

 One physician group, the Southeast Texas Medical Associates LLP, was featured in the article as an example of a physican-owned health care organization that finds EMRs to be beneficial. James Holly, CEO of the physician group (SETMA) said that EMRs "play a big role in making the process more efficient for patients." His group uses EMRs to send data between specialists and primary care physicians within the network, according to the article. 

Holly went on to discuss just how important he finds EMRs to be, and as the head of a physician group, how he thinks EMRs are changing health care as we know it. He says that he thinks EMRs can only improve in the future, saying " I think in 10 more years, we're going to be in a much more robust position than we are now...I think the (health care information exchange) will be mature, and most practices, if not all, will be integrated through the HIE."

While Holly is forward-thinking and seems to embrace the technology, that is not the case with mnay physicians. Also, Holly is optimistic towards the HIE, which in theory is a groundbreaking idea. But, in reality, many physicians and healthcare workers are skeptical of the HIE, and worry that a lack of communication many occur between different health care systems and different physicians and hospitals. Another question that many physicians and healthcare workers alike are raising is the question of errors in reporting when using EMRs.

As for the fear of, and the room for errors when using EMRs, there are many options to prevent errors. Medical scribes can assist in this space and can allow for more accuracy and less room for error when using EMRs. Scribes work side-by-side with the physicians and serve as personal assistants and data entry specialists when it comes to the EMRs. This allows physicians more time for patient care, and this also prevents physician data entry errors on EMRs. 

It seems that EMRs are here to stay, especially with Meaningful Use requirements coming up and the need for electronic documentation of patient records. Scribes can help doctors, especially since there is such a high learning curve for these clinicians. Doctors prefer to care for their patients, and they want to provide quality care; physicians do not want to type into EMRs all day long. EMRs and the HIE still have some kinks to work out, but as with any new technology and concept, it takes time to enact and adapt to change. Healthcare workers, be it physicians, physician assistants, nurses or nurse practitioners need to embrace change in order to increase efficency, and many can do this using a medical scribe.

Tags: healthcare, EMRs, Improve Efficiency, Scribe, EMR, EHR, Medical Scribes

Tips for Transitioning to ICD-10

Posted by Allison Dewan on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 @ 11:14 AM

October 1, 2015 is a big date. Things will change. Be prepared!

AthenaHealth recently hosted a webinar on transitioning to ICD-10. According to AthenaHealth, "the new code set, ICD-10, increases the number of reporting codes from about 13,600 to more than 69,000"; so as you can see, there are some complexities to changing from ICD-9 to ICD-10. 

As you can see in the increase in number of reporting codes, there will be an increase in reporting detail with ICD-10. This transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 could be very costly for your organization, but there are some preventative measures you can take as a precautionary step.

As a precaution, you and your organization need to converse with your vendor and keep up with the vendor as you transition to ICD-10.

In order to avoid unnecessary costs and headaches, you should ask your vendor some important questions. Here are some helpful questions you should ask your vendor to allow for a smoother transition to ICD-10:

  1. What is covered by contracts?
  2. What are plans and timelines?
  3. How will systems work with both ICD-9 and ICD-10?
  4. What does implementation process entail?
  5. What are costs, if any, for training and support in shift to ICD-10?

Info gathered at AthenaHealth webinar. For more info on AthenaHealth visit their website

Tags: healthcare, ICD10, EMRs, EMR

Evolution of EHR

Posted by Allison Dewan on Mon, Oct 06, 2014 @ 05:38 PM

You may be surprised to learn that the majority of U.S. medical records are not available electronically. Despite this alarming fact, the U.S. medical industry is increasingly switching to EHR. According to the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), in 2008, fewer than 10% of hospitals utilized a basic EHR system.

But, by 2009, doctors and hospitals were starting to adapt and began to switch to EMR due to funding from the stimulus from Medicare and Medicaid payments. 

The EMR switch is sweeping the U.S. medical space, with 60% of hospitals having adopted at least a basic EHR system today, according to AJMC. 

Health IT is becoming more important each and every day. As doctors and hospitals become more and more accountable to the quality of the care they provide to patients, high-tech, high-performing electronic medical records will be key to successful treatment and management of patients.  

Tags: healthcare, EMRs, healthIT, EMR, EHR

Meaningful Use and Proper Planning

Posted by Allison Dewan on Tue, Sep 09, 2014 @ 05:04 PM

Meaningful Use & Dealing With Technicalities

Meaningful use is using certified electronic health record technology for a number of tasks in health care. Technology plays a clear role not only in day-to-day life, but also in the way business is done. In terms of healthcare, this means that technology and the medical world are intrinsically linked. EMRs and EHRs are more popular and readily available.

But just having these systems in place is not the only piece to the puzzle. Providers need to take control of their Health IT plans to ensure that data is reported properly. Correct reporting to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is key in order in order to collect incentive payments. This could be complicated if proper planning and management isn’t in place.

Without proper planning and management, a breakdown in coordination could lead to failure to properly report data. This is particularly important for critical access hospitals. Health IT consultant Marcia Cheadle, who is Senior Director of Meaningful Use and Advanced Clinicals for Engage, explains “The CAHs in particular are challenged there because of the way the government views their cost accounting...They also have to go to the fiscal intermediary related to the depreciation of assets required for each of the stages.

The landscape of the Health IT industry is constantly changing and thus it is important to keep up with meaningful use news and maintain planning and coordination efforts at your organization.

Technology is strongly present in meaningful use, and it is imperative that it be properly administered to allow for efficiency in reimbursement.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use has made it obvious that the administrative function of your organization must flow in an organized manner in order to flourish in the current healthcare environment.

Tags: healthcare, meaningful use, healthIT, Scribe, EMR

Preparing for Emergency Situations and Health IT

Posted by Allison Dewan on Sat, Sep 06, 2014 @ 03:57 PM

Emergency Preparedness and Health IT Systems  

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been increasing its initiatives to help providers prepare their IT systems for emergencies. These initiatives are important because there is always a chance for natural or man-made disasters to strike. A National Coordinator, Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, Msc and Greg S. Margolis, PhD NREMT-P explain that HHS is making an effort to help providers prepare for potential disasters and to protect data and patients in the event of an emergency: “The question isn’t whether or not we will have another disaster - it is just a matter of when, where, and how severe it will be.”

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Natural disasters can be devastating events, and hurricanes, earthquakes and other storms can cut off electricity and internet connection which can lead to crisis situations in hospitals. That is why it is key to follow HHS activity and initiatives to prepare for emergencies.

Examples of HHS efforts of preparation are detailed below:
  • First project is a single website that aggregates real-time data from Twitter to identify trends related to public health and incidences of disaster.
  • Second project is another website that is still being developed, and it will include an interactive map to highlight the number of Medicare beneficiaries reliant on electricity on a given zip code level. This map will tie directly to data from the NOAA to warn hospitals and other providers about storms approaching that may cut power at their locations. 

To see more information on HHS efforts to take on EHR and data disaster planning click here.

Tags: healthcare, EMRs, healthIT, Scribe, EMR, emergency

ICD-10 and What You Need to Know

Posted by Allison Dewan on Thu, Sep 04, 2014 @ 02:58 PM

PP resized 600Shifting to ICD-10

ICD-10 will be replacing ICD-9 as the medical classification set forth by the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO). ICD-10 includes codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases.

What Does This Mean?

ICD-10 is a new change, but stay informed about what it means.

Here are some key facts to know about ICD-10 compliance:

  • Transition to ICD-10 is required for everyone covered by the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), and this is explained in depth on

  • The ICD-10 change does not affect CPT coding for outpatient procedures and physician services.

  • The deadline for ICD-10 compliance is set for October 1, 2015 to replace ICD-9, as established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on August 4, 2014.

  • ICD-9 will continue to be required until September 30, 2015.

                                   Response to the Change and More Info.

In response to the new compliance date, American Medical Association (AMA) president elect Steven J. Stack stated,“While the AMA appreciates that physicians have additional time to comply with ICD-10, we continue to have fundamental concerns about ICD-10 and its implementation, which will not be resolved by the extra time.”

Testing for ICD-10 will take place by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during November 2014 and March and June 2015. Further end-to-end testing will also take place on a rolling basis. Moving to ICD-10 is most likely going to affect all physicians.

Due to increased number of codes, change in number of characters per code and increased code specificity, the transition to ICD-10 will require adequate planning and training.

For even more information, see this article on AMA website.



Tags: ICD10, Scribe, EMR

What are EMRs and How Do Scribes Use Them?

Posted by Allison Dewan on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 04:21 PM


By definition provided by the U.S government Health IT website, an electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of a paper chart that contains all of a patient’s medical history from one practice. An EMR is mostly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment.

EMRs are more beneficial than paper records because EMRs lead to improved efficiency and organization of records. Digital management systems for tracking patient care and maintaining that patients are properly informed about their health via online records is key to keeping up in the digital age.

Using EMRs can be overwhelming to doctors who are more accustomed to paper charts. 

This is where the scribes come in! Medical scribes focus on completing all of the electronic record work while the physician focuses on the patient.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians the following are the main duties of scribes:

  • to follow a physician through his or her work day and chart patient encounters in real-time using a medical office's Electronic Health Record and existing templates

  • generate referral letters for physicians, manage and sort medical documents within the EHR system, and assist with e-prescribing

    Thus, by handling data management tasks, scribes allow physicians to have more time with patients and to better manage their patient treatment time.

Tags: EMRs, Scribe, EMR