I had a one hour conversation with an Orthopedic Surgeon about his need for a web-based EMR. He is part of a 4 provider Orthopedic Group in Ohio. I asked him – ‘Why do you need or why do you want an EMR system?’ In all my years of association with electronic medical record systems, this is the first time I was so surprised with his answer:
‘I want a system to improve our practice efficiency and bring some automation to our office. I have talked with various people in the office including front desk staff and back office personnel and figured out we need to bring some critical efficiency.’
Efficient practice processes, including good use of technology and improved workflow reduces staffing needs and enables ideal medical practices to reduce overhead. With efficient processes in place it is possible to reduce overhead by 20%.
Because of reduced overhead, these practices can see fewer patients to cover their costs. Doctors can spend more quality time with their patients, feel more in control, spend more time with their families. They avoid the negativities associated with productivity fatigue.
I got an email this morning from someone that complained about an issue that never comes up during the EMR selection process.
Here’s what he wrote, ‘current practice management solution has switched who it uses for claims processing many times because of contract issues. ‘
When you research your system, you generally don’t ask these questions. At the best, you (of your biller) may ask who is the Clearing house, just to make sure it is a good reputable company.
The EMR industry is under so much pressure that all kinds of things are happening. Vendors are cutting costs, cutting services and you will notice ‘shortcuts’ that can affect you. Here are some situations that can have prompted this –
- A complete system is quite often built with partnerships. One such partnership is with a Clearinghouse to process your claims. Vendors strike deals and negotiate pricing. In doing so, sometimes promises are made that EMR companies cannot keep in terms of volume sales. When that happens, clearinghouse wants to raise prices, renegotiates contracts that can have direct repercussions on client pricing.
- A worse case scenario is one where your vendors switch partners. If they bring in a less than desirable partner for claims processing, your cash flow can be severely affected. Just as there are ‘Free EMR’ companies, there are ‘Free Clearinghouses’. Even paid EMR vendors sometimes use Free Clearinghouses because of pricing pressures.
Two quick questions can resolve that.
- Who is the clearinghouse partner? Make sure it is someone like Gateway EDI, or similar company that is stable and has been around, and has a good reputation.
- How long has the EMR company been in partnership with them? Is this the only clearinghouse they use, or do they partner with others also? If so, who are the others?
In short, unfortunately, this is one more thing you must have on your list to ask your EMR vendor.