Core features for physicians include billing, inventory management and patient scheduling. A quality EMR can integrate all of these features, improving patient attendance and retention and increasing the speed and accuracy of the billing process. In addition to these, however, gastroenterologists should look for an EMR that can support their specific needs as a medical specialist. These EMRs offer gastroenterology-specific templates, workflows and support for accurate billing, coding and reporting.
Assess the EMR system for the following criteria:
|Gastroenterology workflow management||A gastroenterologist’s EMR workflow should fit the way a GI physician practices medicine. One visit may call for a symptom-based approach—abdominal pain or dysphagia—another may call for a condition-based approach—diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease. What’s important is that the workflow supports treatment and improves the patient and physician experience.|
|Customized gastroenterology templates||Dozens of customized templates make charting quicker and easier. These templates cover every aspect of a gastroenterologist’s practice, including: upper and lower endoscopy procedures, cholecystitis, constipation, diarrhea, dysphagia, gastroesophageal reflux, gallbladder, hematuria, UTI, ED, hepatitis, Crohn’s Disease, incontinence, nausea and more.|
|Gastroenterology ICD9 and CPT coding & billing||Your EMR should integrate seamlessly with your workflow and your billing practice to support you in coding and billing. The benefit of a GI-specific EMR is that it provides the support needed for all the conditions a gastroenterologist might encounter, but without thousands of unneeded, unrelated codes, making billing quicker, easier and more accurate.|
|PQRS Incentive Reporting||Earn a 1 percent bonus on Medicare billing, simply by reporting on your endoscopy and colorectal cancer screening and treatment, consistent with the Physician Quality and Reporting System (formerly PQRI). A good EMR can integrate this and other reporting automatically.|
|Endoscopy image management||A critical piece of a gastroenterologist’s practice, a GI-specific EMR should be able to store endoscopy images for current and later use and support the interpretation of those images within the physician’s workflow process.|
Software as a Service (SaaS). Roughly 25 percent of buyers we speak with are interested primarily in Web-based gastroenterology software, while another 50 percent are open to the model during early stages of their research. The reasons are many: SaaS-based systems are available on a subscription basis, meaning lower upfront costs; Web-based systems are perceived as easier to use; and features like new patient import, prescription management and Web-based appointment booking helps gastroenterology practices boost efficiency. Growing demand for Web-based EHR systems is driving vendor innovation in SaaS technology. gMed, for example, has a gastroenterology product (gGastro), which allows users to access gMed’s proprietary patient portal—gMed. The portal allows patients to securely register information, request appointments, update records and send messages. Not only does this minimize double entry and tedious transcription for staff, but it also allows patients to interact with their doctors anywhere there’s Internet access.
Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH). As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2009, HITECH requires health care professionals to adopt Web-based EHR systems. Nineteen billion dollars was allotted to incentivize early adoption, with guidelines set forth for demonstrating “meaningful use.” Doctors are eligible for up to $44,000 in increased Medicare and Medicaid premiums, but only for those using ONC-ATCB-certified EHR systems. Buyers selecting a gastroenterology EMR should keep this in mind, as it’s an easy way to distinguish one product from another.
Mobile technology support. Riding on the wave of widespread adoption of Web-based software, many gastroenterology practices are beginning to depend heavily on mobile technology. Medical professionals are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to access work-related data. As such, vendors are rolling out mobile versions of their products, with portals for doctors, their staff and their patients. Some vendors are even developing native apps for various mobile operating systems (e.g., Apple, Android and Windows), to give doctors and their staff access to key functionality via their mobile devices.
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