Many of us remember funny stories about unknowing users trying to actually speak to ATMs in the early days (after all, the ATMs verbally asked the users for their PIN numbers). And most of us wonder – or should – why many of today’s drive-up ATMs have Braille lettering on them! But the fact is, today we can all very clearly explain what they are, and despite irritation at having to pay service charges, ATMs around the world provide us with cash resources and access to our financial data, and an increasing number even enable us to pay household bills or purchase train or movie tickets… the complete package.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Electronic Medical Records (EMR.) Yes, current EMR implementations enable hospitals with storage access for admissions and creation of patients’ medical histories. But a complete, on-demand picture of an individual’s health records? Not yet. Capabilities within a single Integrated Delivery Network (IDN), much less on a global basis? Not yet. Unfortunately, the complicated nature of healthcare organizations – both providers and payers – and their focus on decisions by diverse committee creates politics that struggle to agree on the definition and rules necessary for complete integration of all information, by all appropriate users (i.e., physicians, clinicians, emergency room workers, pharmacists and patients) wherever they are, by whatever device they choose to use.
Many healthcare organizations have completed the first and most costly step, which is implementing the software able to support basic data entry and tracking to perform clinical workflow, and financial, billing, and decision-making functions. But to achieve complete integration – what constitutes the next generation of services – EMR solutions must include:
- Optimization of the implemented product
- Efficient data warehousing
- Application of business intelligence tools to research operational efficiencies, improve quality and safety, and develop new techniques and protocols
- Integration of medical device data directly into the EMR
- Interoperability that allows for accessing data wherever it exists, and creating on demand views (e.g., EHR, PHR, P4P, EPM)
- Compliance for regulatory and safety standards
- Ongoing support and maintenance for clinical and financial applications
So what must companies aspiring to be high-value integrators do to become next generation EMR service providers? Understand the client’s needs. Provide services that can leverage leading edge solution sets from internal and external sources. Shape a solution that leverages horizontal services, Centers of Excellence (CoEs) and creatively team with leading edge organizations that provide domain-specific products as a part of the overall solution set. Doing so will allow world class healthcare organizations to depend upon world class Tier One integrators to supply all their technology needs. These are necessary requirements for a world-class provider of services to effectively compete now and into the next decade.