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Predictions Regarding the Electronic Health Record (EHR)

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

My mom was big into psychics…not that she believed them, she was merely intrigued. Right?

Predictions regarding the Electronic Health Record (EHR) for the year are out, and not that I believe them, but I’m intrigued.

Let’s start with Marla Durben Hirsch, a contributing editor for FierceEMR. She has five predictions, and the one I’m most interested in is software vendors using cloud technology. Cloud technology is a marketing term that encompasses a bunch of services offered by an EHR vendor. Sometimes referred to as an ASP (Application Service Program), it includes using the server, gobs of disk space, and great services like automatic updates to the latest, greatest software enhancements. From a vendor standpoint it’s easier to maintain and support because the vendor has control of the technology. Sometimes professionals and the organizations they work for tend to cut corners on technology to save a few bucks. From a professional’s viewpoint, cloud technology may be good because they’d rather not become a technology expert or have to hire a local consultant to handle all the jobs involved in maintaining a system. The core of this provision of the EHR is that it’s deployed on the web.

The first worry that usually surfaces is the security of consumer data and confidentiality of a consumer’s health information.

I’ve talked before about security, and SSL, or Secure Socket Layer is the most common method of securing a connection between a professional and their data when the EHR is housed and maintained elsewhere. Another security method is Citrix, which is supposed to be even better security than SSL. There are more methods of securing the confidentiality of consumer records, and anybody who sells an EHR system must offer good data access security these days, or else the HIPAA police will get very upset and there will be consequences to pay. So, since this was all worked out years ago, data security is generally not an issue when a professional uses a web-based EHR; people buying software still ask about it, so I address it.

Cloud technology is especially valuable to solo professionals (products like practice fusion) or small organizations with under 100 employees (products like Foothold Technology’s AWARDS System). Professionals really need to be treating consumers, not troubleshooting server problems or wondering if a backup is available after a system crash.

InformationWeek has its predictions published already. I like number seven. I think what they’re talking about is providers of one product (like lab or pharmacy services) delivering web-based EHR modular software solutions to woo more customers into using their primary product or service.

One significant drawback to a solution of this sort is that it’s a module. Both professional and consumer are better off with a total solution where session notes (including breakthroughs and next steps) and mutually developed treatment plans can be attached to everything else in the consumer’s record. Still, the prediction is for this sort of modular approach to software in mental health and addiction treatment is on the upswing for 2012.

Healthcare IT News has a different take, and I find it quite interesting. For example, since the growth of Healthcare IT has been a major focus of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and the gains have only been modest, I agree that will played up quite heavily in the presidential election. This sort of thing can be spun to either create controversy, or used as evidence of doing a great job, depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on.

Politics. Sheesh.

Whether you accept the predictions that are coming at us like popcorn as valid or not, it is at least fun and educational to check in with what people in the world out there think.

Enjoy your day, and don’t sweat the predictions…unless you believe in psychics.

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