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October 18, 2011

E-prescribing can help save millions in healthcare costs

Technology has helped make our lives more convenient. E-prescribing is an example of worthwhile technological development in the field of healthcare. Put in the simplest way it is a method of generating prescriptions through an automated data-entry process which uses e-prescribing software and connects with participating pharmacies through a transmission network. Thus this process eliminates the requirement of paper, fax and phone from the process of creating prescriptions and delivering medication to patients. In fact it can make the process of delivering medications to patients significantly safer and efficient.

E-prescribing has been widely publicized as an effective solution for ensuring patient safety, as well as for containing the ever-increasing medication costs. It has been estimated that medication errors cause nearly 7,000 deaths in the United States every year. These errors mostly result from the illegible handwriting on prescriptions which lead pharmacists to deliver wrong medication. The errors can also lead to incidents of wrong dosage or missing out on important information about allergic reactions from various drugs or their combinations. Furthermore, pharmacists frequently spend a lot of time deciphering illegible handwriting on prescriptions. Time spent this way is completely wasted and if anyone calculates the total amount of time wasted on a daily basis understanding such prescriptions by all pharmacists working in the United States it would surely turn out to be a significantly big figure.

E-Prescribing comes with considerable financial benefits as well. According to recent reports by 2014 it can help a state save up to $16 million in claim expenses and the federal government up to $53.8 million.  Health expenditure would decrease by $164 million with insurance companies and low income residents being the biggest beneficiaries as they stand to save around $45.6 and $41.9 million respectively on healthcare.

E-prescribing has many other benefits as well. For one, it can improve beneficiary health outcomes. Providers that adopt and invest in this technology would be able to improve quality and efficiency. This would not only help reduce costs but also ensure appropriate drug usage. Providers and dispensers would be better informed about formulary-based drug coverage and co-pay information. This would help speed up the renewal process of medications. The problem of drug diversion can also be thwarted by the use of this technology as providers and pharmacists can be readily alerted about duplicated prescriptions in the case of controlled substances.

According to records, number of prescriptions written annually in the United States is nearly 3 billion. This places it among the largest paper based process in the country. The establishment of an e-prescribing system would dramatically streamline the process and make it significantly more efficient. Thus this system can empower both prescribers and pharmacists.

Binary Spectrum is a well-reputed company with an online presence which has been developing software for e-prescribing with highly successful results.

June 27, 2011

Challenges in providing Integrated Healthcare Services

Abstract: Improving the enduring health status of the communal is the main goal of Integrated Healthcare. However, the inadequate access to healthcare services for a large population accounts to poor healthcare records. The variation in the components of healthcare delivery also poses a threat to patient critical information. There are many such challenges that come in way of providing a well-executed Integrated Healthcare Service.

Integrated healthcare services entails broader acceptance by clinicians to foster collaboration among primary and secondary providers to improve the experience of patients. Most integrating systems are evolving towards eliminating intermediary costs and providing a one-stop-shop service. Healthcare authorities need to identify areas of integrated healthcare and develop collaborative ways of working. The following are the main benefits of an integrated healthcare service:
·          Reduce duplication of healthcare interface
·          Improve accessibility and experience of the service provided
·          Enhance quality provided through a persistent manner
·          Availability of data at right time
·          Practical and personalized healthcare model

Designed to function seamlessly, Integrated Healthcare service requires a free flow of information among the service components and clinicians. Below are some of the major challenges that would need to be faced for providing well framed integrated healthcare services:
1.     Need to understand data and trends in public health strategies
2.     Integration of services
3.     Flexibility of role sharing
4.     Comparative healthcare policy and planning
5.     Understand changes in the working patterns
6.     Collective expertise
7.     Efficiently shared information
8.     Better monitoring of healthcare needs
9.     Eliminates costly intermediaries
10.  Produce extensive management reports and decision support tools

Managed clinical networks need to focus on consequences of system reforms wherein they have to be acceptance towards a collaborative environment. The major need for such a setting is administration knowledge. A high level commitment is required to overcome all these challenges and much more, if there is a need for implementing common and secured information system to help healthcare services interface better.

April 25, 2011

Streamlining EMR Design for the real benefit of physicians

Abstract: Delivering effectiveness in your tasks through an EMR is quite challenging. Most of the EMR out there in the market focus on providing maximum number of features rather than the benefits actually gained by the users. Focusing on benefits first, Binary Spectrum provides an overview of the challenges in the EMR design and what can be done to overcome them.

Real requirements have constantly been ignored in an EMR design. Understanding the fact that physicians are performing their tasks under high time pressure and in a demanding environment, EMR is not just meant to boast about improved efficiency, more time for patient care or long term financial benefits. Instead it should focus on foremost points that are usually missed out like facing process challenges, having lesser customization instead of just providing customization facility, having straightforward tabs wherein minimal entry would populate the entire report or information.

Any challenges or complexities in EMR design can be overcome by considering simple basic requirements that are usually missed out in the haphazard of loading the system with extensive features. The following are some of the main requirements contributing to a successful EMR design:
·          It should be simple, straightforward with less complexity
·          It should bring in familiarity to avoid excess training
·          It should have consistency to help lower the learning curve
·          Should have appropriate fonts and size of content used
·          Appropriate colors should be used to convey precisely
·          It should be cognitive
·          Proper terminologies should describe the message
·          Instructions should be well handled
·          Should involve less documentation and data entry
The list can go on. However, all these drastically help the user to work lesser time in documenting in the system and spend more time in looking up patients for their care and safety. Any error made by users directly affects the potential safety of the patient. If attention is paid to these major requirements then the number of errors at present would reduce drastically. Patient safety would then effectively come into picture when physicians don’t forget a task or overlook some critical data or prescribe any wrong medication.  

In an EMR design, the user should not be led to waste time thinking and searching for tabs. Instead the design should provide transparency wherein it’s convenient and consistent for him to perform actions quickly in just a click. Overall, if physicians gain from using an effective system, the purpose of EMR is achieved.

Tangible and intangible ROI for an EMR and PM

Abstract: The pressure to invest in an EMR or PM for hospitals and clinics is large. However, on the other hand it has been proven that clinical applications like EMR and PM increases efficiency, improves quality of patient care and in a timely manner. The adoption of such healthcare applications conversely has been based on the fact if the healthcare providers would gain sufficient Return on Investment from the same or not. This article helps provide insights on tangible (monetary) and intangible (clinical) returns that are eventually gained from use of these applications.

Return on Investment conventionally is based on evaluating the impact of expenses with the revenues gained. When profits exceeded the costs involved, the investment was said to be justified and right. However, this may not necessary be the case with healthcare applications where the value of the investment could be more on intangible details like improved and detailed patient encounter, avoidance of medication errors, better quality care, etc.

The healthcare industry has still a lot to learn and progress on IT investments. It is essential to evaluate the application’s use based on the one using it more than the one providing it. Measuring financial returns is important but not the sole criteria for ROI. There are many qualitative returns too, especially in an industry like healthcare, that proves to be much beneficial than the financial figures. Various intangible benefits that results from adoption of an EMR are reliable quality of care, improved patient security, length of stay that is tremendously reduced and compliance to regulatory requirements. The most essential of all being reduction in medical errors that is the sole purpose of having investments in technology.

Measuring ROI and success of clinical systems like EMR or PM applications can be realized at a clinical and organizational level as well. Access to test results that are otherwise unavailable, quantifying costs per error, improving quality of care in an ambulatory care setting are some of the benefits at a clinical level. The operational efficiency of the organization too improves tremendously.

To evaluate the numerical metrics cash flow analysis, cost effectiveness analysis and total cost of ownership are considered. Main Tangible returns rendered are:

  • Improved revenue flows (Real case studies where adoption of EMR has given 300% ROI for the first year and payback period was just 4 months)
  • Compensation, grants and tax benefits from the government
  • Savings catering to labor, transcription
Delphi techniques and process metrics are helpful to identify the main intangible benefits. Some of the key intangible returns rendered are:
  • Avoidance of medical errors that has alarming effect on death rates
  • Increased patient time and patient satisfaction 
  • Increase the number and speed up the process of transactions
  • Improved ability and productivity of personnel
  • Secured and effective way of maintaining patient records
  • Increased information access
  • Adoption of EMR has proven to be beneficial in many ways and the ROI does not necessary dominate in the form of tangibles but intangible returns as well. Transformation in the delivery of health care, making it safer, more effectual, and well-organized has been the overall focus of these clinical applications such as EMR and PM.

December 13, 2010

Ophthalmology EMR

Abstract: The core of ophthalmology framework is driven by the needs of practicing ophthalmologists. Having comprehended this need well, Binary Spectrum structures out Ophthalmology EMR that is today being successfully being implemented by chain of ophthalmological hospitals.

Ophthalmology framework is specifically designed with the objective to enhance the practice of eye medicine. The framework assists ophthalmologists in better operational management and risk management. Binary Spectrum’s Ophthalmology framework addresses these personalized needs and includes highlights Visual Acuity, Preliminary Examination, Dilatation, Fundus Examination, Refraction and Final Examination.

The comprehensive workflow takes into consideration the visual acuity test to identify the person’s distance vision readings. The Preliminary Examination includes slit lamp examination to check the various parts of the human eye through a built-in system within the device consisting of an Illumination system and a binocular observation system. Anterior and Posterior parts are tested under this. Some of the preferred cases for Slit lamp exams are Cataract patients, Postoperative cases, Congested eye, intraocular inflammation, Eye injury, etc. Dilatation conducted is recorded. Under this, a person’s age too plays a major role.

Fundus examination tests the inner surfaces of the eye using Ophthalmoscope or Fundus camera. In addition, Refraction is recorded to help prescribe the best corrective lens. Final examination involves differential diagnosis, clinical diagnosis and final diagnosis that records prescription, lens prescription, surgery and Lasik counseling.

The major workflow mapping involves dominant imaging modules, protocols, PACS and records like Low Vision, Orbit, Cataract, Retina, Pediatric Ophthalmology, Glaucoma, Amblyopic, etc to name a few. Devices used for the process includes autorefractometer, keratometer, non contact tonometer, A-scan and central fields.  The key of the entire solution however has been the HL7 integration. With the implementation soon to replace the popular chain of ophthalmological hospitals in India, Binary Spectrum provides the apt solution for effective eye care management. The key of this implementation however has been the HL7 integration.

June 08, 2009

How would you handle post implementation EMR issues?


Considering the entire process to be an ongoing one, there would still be certain issues that may remain unaddressed. It is indeed crucial to handle the networking and security risks that would follow the implementation process of an EMR. Product interfaces, data conversion, documentation and testing issues may crop up once the implementation is done.

Apart from the follow-up training that would be provided, involving an IT representative could help you solve most of the issues that you may face post implementation. Following a systematic approach with regular meetings to deal with the most prioritized one first could prove effective in such a case.



Who would be the right EMR Vendor for your organization?


The most important attribute that an EMR vendor should possess and project is that of providing an unbiased source of information. It is advisable to identify and list down the functions that you would expect from EMR depending on your practice requirements. Based on this, few numbers of vendors could be shortlisted for the demo.

Taking guidance from any qualified consultants also helps you to have a broad understanding about the industry. These consultants are knowledgeable and familiar about various EMR vendors and are able to provide credible and unbiased information on the same. One needs to clarify aspects like pricing per physician license, client referrals, post sales support, client /server based and web based distinctions, details of EMR configuration, any negotiations etc.

The focus of the buyer should also be on asking more of open ended questions in order to get detailed information about their system and their process of implementation. This would avoid getting objective answers and have a clearer picture about the whole process. Accordingly, the buyer can consider and decide upon the vendor that meets the practice’s requirements without having to compromise on the needs and desires. Overall, asking the right questions would ensure the most appropriate vendor to be selected.



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