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Electronic Medical Records
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Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

By Carol Power – CoverMD Senior Contributing Writer
Summary
CoverMD.com offers free quotes on medical malpractice insurance in every state. This article discusses the benefits of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and how an EMR system can help you save money on your malpractice insurance.

An EMR system can help you save on your medical malpractice insurance
An EMR system can not only streamline your practice, it can also save you money on your malpractice insurance.
In an increasingly wired world the healthcare industry’s adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) has surprisingly lagged behind the technology-based communication of other industries. An electronic medical record is also commonly referred to as an electronic health record (EHR).

As the name suggests, an EMR is simply a patient’s medical records stored and organized in an electronic format, which can be accessed by networked computers for the purpose of providing medical care. EMRs can contain a full range of medical information, including prescription records, test results, treatment histories, progress reports and X-rays. In addition to storing a patient’s medical history, EMRs facilitate the ordering of medical tests, treatments and medications, while offering real-time data and clinical guidelines as well as allergy and drug interactions warnings.

But recent studies suggest that less than 10 percent of American hospitals and 16 percent of primary care physicians currently employ EMR technologies. Physician reticence to adopt EMRs is likely due to the data-entry time costs required to transfer from paper to digital records and the estimated $44,000-per-physician investment in resources, but case studies show the new systems pay for themselves within three years.

Make no mistake, EMRs are the inevitable next step forward in healthcare, shortening patient wait times and lowering operating costs for physicians through improved efficiency and reduced malpractice risk. In fact, President George W. Bush and his administration established a national goal of assuring the majority of Americans have electronic medical records by the year 2014.

According to Chris Ferguson, President of EMR Experts (www.emrexperts.com), a leading provider of customized EMR solutions for physicians, "The EMR industry is now seeing unprecedented growth. We are seeing 100% growth every quarter of practices converting from traditional paper medical record keeping to EMR. This increase can be attributed to many factors, such as cost effective reliable systems now deployed in the market, efficiencies gained at the practice level for many reasons like labor cost, overhead storage of paper records, as well as a decrease in malpractice premiums."

Medicare to start offering incentives

As an encouragement for physicians to switch over to the benefits of EMRs, specifically in regard e-prescribing, Medicare will start a new program to encourage physicians to adopt e-prescribing systems, with incentive payments available beginning in 2009 for those who meet the requirements of the program. Eligible professionals will receive a 2 percent incentive payment in 2009 and 2010; a 1 percent incentive payment in 2011 and 2012; and a one half percent incentive payment in 2013. Beginning in 2012, eligible professionals who are not electronic prescribers will receive a reduction in payment.

Benefits of Electronic Medical Records

Traditionally, physicians have spent a considerable amount of time with paper records that are bulky and occupy costly space in their practice environment. Filing, retrieval of files and the re-filing of paper records are labor-intensive methods of storing patient information. And in a hospital setting, when a record is checked out for one department, another department cannot access the chart. The impact of not having immediate access to key information in emergency situations can be serious.

Traditional paper medical records are also difficult to search and near impossible to employ when tracking, analyzing and/or charting voluminous clinical medical information and processes. Due to HIPAA privacy guidelines, they cannot be easily copied or saved off-site. However a physician’s orders and the corresponding results can also be issued, saved and maintained much more efficiently in a EMR system.

EMR systems maximize your productivity

EMR systems maximize physician productivity by intuitively organizing the massive and complex nature of healthcare systems in one computer-based database, accessible via the simple click of a button. By spending less time tracking charts, staff can streamline provider and patient contact time. As a result, physicians may spend more time with individual patients as well as increase the number of patients they see in one day.

EMRs offer the potential benefit of increased revenues by allowing an increase in services per visit and patient volume as well as providing fully documented coding recommendations required by many insurance companies for reimbursement of services.

Perhaps the most attractive benefit of EMRs is the ability to lower physician risk and reduce errors through medication alerts concerning drug interactions and allergies, by facilitating communication among healthcare providers, by providing computerized physician order entry to eliminate errors due to legibility issues and by improving medical record documentation. Because EMR software incorporates clinical-decision support, it can aid in diagnoses, alert the physician of prescription drug interactions and suggest treatment plan recommendations. In the case of e-prescriptions, the EMR automatically screens for drug interactions, dosage and patient-specific medication factors. When a medication listed in an EMR matches a medication in an FDA safety alert, patients taking that medication are flagged.

Save Money on your Malpractice Insurance

To borrow a phrase from the infomercial world .. but wait there's more! Recognizing the risk-minimizing advantage of EMRs in regard to diagnosis and treatment, some medical malpractice insurance companies are offering a premium credit of anywhere between 2 and 5 percent. Each insurer’s EMR credit requirements vary slightly, so check with your malpractice company or submit your free malpractice insurance quote request today and see if you can get a better rate on your med mal insurance.

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Additional Information

To learn more about EMR please contact www.emrexperts.com for a free demonstration of your specialty in EMR. You can also contact Chris Ferguson, President of EMR Experts toll free at 877-367-1367.

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