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The Impact on HIM When Merging Ambulatory and Acute EMR Systems

Whether your hospital is on the buying or selling end of a recent acquisition transaction, big change is on its way.  With the recent buying binge by healthcare systems of hospitals and physician practices, the tidal wave of transformation is here for the foreseeable future.

The best case scenario for your EMR is that the new healthcare facility is also using the same platform, but even then HIM departments are still charged with the challenge of incorporating patient information uniformly into the system.  A more challenging scenario is that of a hospital purchasing other hospitals or clinics on a completely different EMR platform.

 

Challenges of Incorporating Clinic Data Post-Acquisition

  • Maintaining consistency and quality – When clinics are acquired, one often-implemented strategy is to enable each clinic to scan and index their own documents that still exist in paper form.  This decentralized process means that if 50 hospital-owned clinics are now scanning and indexing their own documents, often 50+ users are making decisions on document type and where the document should be stored in the EMR system.  This presents a significant challenge for patient care, as physicians at another location may have a difficult (or nearly impossible) time locating patient information that should be in the system electronically.
  •  Incorporating outside documents quickly and effectively – Due to the challenges created for hospital HIM departments by decentralized scanning in clinics, many HIM leaders elect to centralize clinic scanning within the hospital.  This often lessens the quality concerns, but creates a significant delay in scanning, which impacts all downstream processes. Additionally, clinics are less pleased with a centralized scanning model because it requires them to let the paper leave their location.  If a patient returns to the clinic before the paper is in the EMR, it can present a significant challenge for patient care.

Leveraging a Different Approach for Clinic EMR Data

 

A third option that has become popular with healthcare facilities who are affected by acquisition is to employ a decentralized scanning approach and centralize the indexing function.

This model enables:

  • Paper records to remain onsite at the clinic
  • Less staff dedicated to the function at the clinic
  • Documents to be scanned at the point of care immediately
  • Uniform indexing quality across the health system
  • Improved productivity and expedited downstream processes when tools such as Solarity are effectively utilized.

To learn more about this model, watch this brief video.

 

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