A few EHR New Year's resolutions

In 2014, I wrote a plethora of articles for Dental Products Report and Dental Practice Management about the projected future of electronic health records in dentistry. Recently, I have had the opportunity to sit in on numerous EHR vendor demos for clients ranging from small practices to large groups and DSOs. The bottom line is that I have had an insider look that most people don’t have into what 2015 will bring when it comes to EHR adoption.

What’s reality? What’s actually happening? What am I noticing in these EHR that will affect your patient care, bottom line and competitiveness in 2015? Well, because it’s the New Year, after seeing and discussing dental EHR with numerous vendor product groups, here are a few New Year’s resolutions the more progressive vendors are making.

Resolution #1 – We will develop cloud-based technology

Everything in life is moving to the cloud—our purchasing, our banking and, yes, even medical software and medical records. So it makes sense I am seeing a dramatic shift with a number of dental software vendors that don’t already have cloud-based options looking vigorously into using this technology. Along with this cloud-based technology comes a number of creative vendors partnering with each other in the cloud to provide dental practices and groups with a robust set of solutions to solve many of their issues.

Resolution #2 – We will embrace electronic prescribing

The New York mandate for electronic prescribing is not a myth. It’s reality … and it is projected that other states will follow. So any vendor that does not embrace e-prescribing as an option will not only potentially lose market share in New York but is at risk if other states adopt this mandate. And, regarding your practice, even if you don’t believe in e-prescribing mandates, the liability of not knowing accurately all the medications your patients are on or not being able to easily determine drug-drug or drug-allergy interaction alerts puts you at risk by not embracing this technology.

Resolution #3 – We will make claims processing easier and more efficient

EHR are definitely making it easier to accurately input the work being done from the operatory. Shouldn’t claims really start at the point of care and be completely automated? How about the system automatically attaching the appropriate NEA documentation to the claim without manual intervention? Vendors are looking at ways to make claims processing more accurate and efficient from the point of care. When you talk with the vendors, you get a sense that as soon as the payers start demanding more accountability, these new claims-based EHR features will be a necessity.

Continue to page two to read more resolutions…

Resolution #4 – We will protect our customers from the “HIPAA police”

Sending information out through email? Collaborating on cases using Dropbox for image transfer? If you are, you’re waiting for a visit from the “HIPAA police.” However, progressive vendors seem to have it covered. They are aggressively incorporating secure communications using HIPAA-compliant messaging as well as secure web portals to communicate information. No need to break the HIPAA rules when some of the new EHR provide alternative options.

Resolution #5 – With a tip of the hat to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, we will help you “teach your children well”

Patient education is becoming more sophisticated. The idea of looking up patient education, printing out hard copies and sending it along with your patients has given way to progressive EHR that automatically present the appropriate information based on problems and procedures. No more looking for databases to find things; these “context-driven” videos and multimedia presentations can be automatically presented and, in some cases, actually sent to the patient web portal so patients can view at home and make decisions on recommended treatments and procedures.

Resolution #6 – We will make the referral process a joy to use

What dentist, hygienist or office manager doesn’t wish he or she could get away from the hassles of manually sending referrals, not knowing what happens to the patient after he or she sends them off and not getting good follow-up information? Wouldn’t it be great if this could all be done electronically? Well, some vendors are introducing increasingly sophisticated electronic referral workflow options in 2015.

Resolution #7 – We will eat more fruits and vegetables

Whoops. Sorry, it looks like my personal New Year’s resolution list somehow got mingled with this article.

So will the software vendors break these New Year’s resolutions? I don’t think so. The writing is on the wall regarding some dental software vendors’ commitments to improving patient care, workflow efficiency, and the bottom line of practices that choose to embrace “next generation” EHR in 2015

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