Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Electronic Health Records Stimulus Tour in Detroit

So I attended the EHR Stimulus Tour today in Detroit.  (The new Doubletree Suites/Fort Shelby is a great hotel now by the way although a little hard for parking.)   It really is a new day for medical and healthcare organizations.  Nothing like some good old government money to get the technology juices flowing.

The site above for the EHR Tour has some great resources to understand all there is to know for getting that stimulus money from the government.  It will take some planning and now is the time to start.

For our outsourced IT healthcare vertical clients in Detroit and Ann Arbor Michigan this should be on the agenda for those quarterly business reviews we will be having.  What is the best way to get to that money and how can we start now.

How Much Will They Get?

Starting in 2011 physicians can each get $18,000 for showing they have electronic health records instituted that has ePrescribing capability and connectivity to other providers.  This goes down gradually for the next 5 years to a total amount of $44,000.

One 4.5 physician office in Holt talked about what they did to implement and how they spent $131K to implement EHR and practice management.  $131K may sound like a lot but consider some of these benefits that I never even thought of:

  • Never a lost chart
  • Remote access the EHR system from anywhere and do your updating at night in the comfort of home
  • No longer wait for a chart pull
  • prescription refills are handled right on the patients medication listing
  • No more dictation costs
  • Automatically check drug allergy problems or conflicts
  • Get a list of clients for a drug recall in minutes not days

One interesting item from this doctor is that their FTE (full time equivalent) of front office staff went down.  So their overall savings of salary was $91K/year.  That is a huge number.

While EHR will be a pain in the first year having everyone buy in will be critical and understanding the long term benefits.  Even without the stimulus money it’s a great decision but one now that is a no brainer.

The Holt practice now has 5 Servers to handle their workload and does need some IT support to help their practice here in Michigan.

One other concern was data backup and disaster recovery.  The most they have been down has been 2 hours.  That’s a discussion we’ll have with our clients because of our standby server technology we can get them back up and running in 30 minutes if something happens.

A good example used during the tour was that of airlines.  You hardly ever talk to someone in person to book your ticket and now even get your ticket or check in your luggage.  It’s all electronic.  Why can’t healthcare be the same way?  It sure could and needs to be to help lower some of the costs that folks see out there now.