Emergency Departments Give Health IT Tools Failing Grade - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Clinical Information Systems
11:40 AM

Emergency Departments Give Health IT Tools Failing Grade

Two-thirds say their vendors' IT systems don't have the necessary tools to help them meet Meaningful Use criteria, finds KLAS study.

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More than 80% of providers say they plan to use emergency department data to help them attest for Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 1 requirements, but only one-third of those interviewed believe their vendor is ready to offer tools that will meet MU criteria, according to a new KLAS study. Among the weaknesses cited most often are gaps in medication reconciliation, reporting, and computerized physician order entry.

The report, "EDIS 2011: Delivering on Great Expectations," released earlier this month, examines both standalone and enterprise emergency department information systems (EDIS). The survey revealed that providers using standalone systems benefit from increased ED efficiency and advanced clinician tools, but yearn for improved integration. Those providers using enterprise EDIS enjoy stronger integration capabilities, but require a greater level of clinical functionality.

"The study's revelation that only one-third of providers say their vendor's EDIS is ready to achieve Meaningful Use reflects the reality that, for many vendors, incorporating all of the required criteria, completing certification, and actually delivering on the integration features is a challenge," Denise Helfand, VP of sales & marketing at Wellsoft Corporation, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Wellsoft, which has been the top-rated EDIS in the survey since 2006, operates what KLAS describes as "a superior level of engagement in matters of service, support, and living up to expectations. Wellsoft has room to improve when it comes to integration and interfacing," the report said.

[Legally, EHRs are double-edged swords: They protect clinicians from malpractice litigation but also put them at greater risk. See Will Your EHR Land You In Court?]

According to Helfand, using industry-approved standards, such as HL7 and CCD, is the most efficient, reliable, and cost-effective method to exchange clinical data. Bringing together data from multiple sources to create meaningful clinical information will require all vendors--whether standalone or enterprise--to adhere to proven technologies and information exchange standards.

"This report highlights the need for commitment from all EDIS and [health information system] vendors to making interoperability across systems a priority." Helfand added.

The report notes that there is a consensus among providers that the term "best of breed" should be applied to the best EDIS systems, regardless of whether they are a standalone or enterprise platform. The "best" is characterized as an EDIS tool that enables providers to meet Meaningful Use requirements, as well as improve physician efficiency and expand integrated clinical capabilities in the ED.

"Over the past 5 to 7 years, the EDIS market has evolved significantly. No longer is it a question of 'if' a hospital is getting an EDIS but 'when.' Even smaller EDs, which may not need patient tracking capabilities to keep up with their patients, have found that they cannot prosper without things like automated charge capture, built-in risk and safety features, and [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] incentive payments," Patricia Daiker, VP of product strategy at Medhost, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Medhost placed second in overall performance scores for its EDIS system, and received high marks for its capabilities in implementation, ease of use, and delivering needed functionality.

According to Daiker, user adoption of EDIS tools is moving up in priority and an EDIS system must be usable or people will work around it.

"Healthcare IT initiatives are built on the foundation that data capture at the point of care by people who are making the clinical decisions improves patient safety and minimizes risk. The systems have to rise to the needs of the clinicians, make sense in their workflow, and provide them the data they need for clinical decisions," Daiker said.

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