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Want Preventive Healthcare? EHR is needed first!

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Today I had my Flu Shots done at Kaiser Permanente’s facility here in the Bay Area.

There was a line that was 200 long but they had 7 or 8 nurses doing the flu shots and the line was moving fairly quickly.

But the amazing thing that was made possible, courtesy of Electronic Health Records was what happened at the end of the line after you had your flu shots. They did a quick scan of your membership card and checked on outstanding or overdue health checks. In my case, they found that a test for Colon Cancer was not done and so they set it up with thier lab to have it done immediately!

All of this was made possible, only because my health records were electronic and they were able to see what was overdue for my preventive care with a swipe of a card. As long as I was there for the flu shot, they could as well have me do my preventive health checks also!

I cannot imagine any healthcare facility delving into Paper files for each member who shows up for a flu shot, digging out tests that were done and Preventive Healthcare tests that were overdue, especially when the line is 200 long! They did this because they could, with just a swipe of a card!

We keep talking about moving from an illness based healthcare system to one of Health and Preventive healthcare. From a practical point of view, you need to encounter situations like these to see what a leap of healthcare Quality, just making healthrecords electronic, enables!

Just Preventive Healthcare alone will save any payer – the Medicare/Medicaid ones or the Insurance Companies, in spades, money they dole out in treating patients after they get too ill! What a shame!

So when someone talks about Preventive Healthcare saving money and EHR enabling it, believe you me, they are little things like the one that make them possible!

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EHR Adoption is not like addressing the Year 2000 Problem!

September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Some deadlines like the Year 2000 are not movable! Ready or not, here they come!

EHR Adoption and tthe current deadlines like 2010 and 2014 are all artificial deadlines. With just a bill they can be postponed again and again, till things like Meaningful Use, Certification of EHR Software are all worked out completely!

We have seen this movie before with the Sarbanes Oxley Act and Compliance with the act that is needed. The Act was passed in 2002 and a number of extensions for compliance were issued time and again!

I have a feeling that the longer we go with a lot of uncertainties about what meaningful use is or imprecision around how EHR packages will be certified, I am afraid that deadlines will be extended again and again!

I hope that this does not happen, but given past experiences with anything the Federal Government does on a scale that it is trying to do with the Stimulus Package and EHRs, it is very likely that deadlines get extended!

This can have a lot of profound consequences on a lot of companies and people. EHR companies may not see the same kind of rampup they would experience if the deadlines are not extended. In some sense, these are not deadlines but only announced dates. Nevertheless moving them could affect a lot of companies and people!

That way Year 2000 was better. You didn’t have a choice. It came whether you were read or not!