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New HIT news site: EHR Outlook

Rule No. 1 of blogging: post often enough to keep your audience. I seem to have broken that rule in the past eight days.

The problem is, I’ve been doing so much (paying) work for others that I have neglected this site. For example, I have a new gig as a contributor to a fairly new, blog-style news site, EHR Outlook, published by Access Intelligence of Rockville, Md. (which just happens to be my home town). I’ll be writing weekly for that site, which provides fairly basic EHR-related information and advice for physician practices, a return of sorts to my roots in healthcare journalism. My first post went up last week, and a second should get posted Monday.

I have a lot more to blog about, but for now, here’s another hilarious Xtranormal video about how all the mundane paperwork makes a physician more of a “real doctor” than a veterinarian:

 

July 30, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Healthcare can take a lesson from airline fees

Here’s an idea so radically simple, it just might work.

All the new fees airlines have imposed in the last few years seem to be as popular as a trip to the doctor. But healthcare should follow at least one example to make trips to the doctor a bit more palatable–and safer, too. Plus, practices can benefit from greater efficiency if not also a little extra revenue.

When booking a ticket, airlines now charge somewhere in the range of $15-$25 to speak to a live person, either on the phone or at the airport. That’s because they want you to use their automated, online reservation systems. Customers generally don’t mind doing the work because they get to pick the flights, routings, times and prices most suited to their own needs and they enter all their personal data themselves. It’s more accurate and it saves time and money for the airlines. If customers want the added assistance of a real human being, they can pay for the service.

A medical practice should operate the same way. Let patients book appointments online. Let them fill out their medical histories online, too. Link the data they enter to practice systems so appointments go right to the practice management system and patient history goes to the EMR that most physicians will have (right?) by 2015 or so. You save staff time–even some physician time in the case of medical histories–and avoid errors that come from having to interpret patient handwriting and key their information into the system.

Give patients a financial incentive to use these automated options. Some practices already charge administrative fees to handle the paperwork our inefficient health system often requires. Waive those fees for anyone willing to enter data online rather than making an appointment over the phone or filling out the dreaded clipboard while sitting in the waiting room.

If you’re not comfortable charging an administrative fee, consider waiving co-payments for patients choosing the self-service option. Many of those charges go uncollected anyway.

October 27, 2010 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

MGMA wants standard patient IDs within a year

As promised at its annual meeting back in October, the Medical Group Management Association on Monday introduced a plan to standardize patient ID cards—on a very aggressive timeline.

The program, called SwipeIT, is an effort to convince health plans—Medicare included—as well as vendors and care providers to create standardized, machine-readable IDs by the beginning of 2010. Here is a sample.

MGMA estimates that this plan could reduce administrative waste by $1 billion a year. Magnetic-stripe cards following standards set by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange would cost 50 cents each to replace the more than 100 million health insurance cards currently in circulation. In other words, a $50 million investment would realize $1 billion in annual savings.

A big question is whether some might see this as a move toward a national patient ID number, even though that is not what MGMA is proposing. The perception alone might cause some to balk. And then there’s the tricky issue of achieving consensus on something—anything at all—in healthcare administration.

January 13, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.