A renewed focus on quality patient outcomes
Across the nation, healthcare providers are shifting from a fee-for-service model to a coordinated care approach that focuses on improving patient outcomes. It’s a shift driven by several factors, including changing federal reimbursement programs and an emphasis on preventive care to reduce costly emergency room visits and in-patient admissions.
In the healthcare staffing sector, the move to new care delivery models has increased demand for financial analysts, revenue cycle management (RCM) professionals and health IT professionals who can help organizations develop and deploy electronic health record (EHR) platforms, “big data” analytic tools, mobile applications and other solutions.
In October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made several rule changes designed to ease the reporting burden for providers, support interoperability, and improve patient outcomes. The federal agency hopes this will make it easier for providers to continue their transition into a new era where EHRs can be moved seamlessly among physician offices, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and other settings. “We want actionable electronic health information available when and where it matters most and for health care providers and consumers to be able to readily, safely, and securely exchange information,” said CMS in a recent announcement.
For providers, EHRs make it easy to access to patient information from any location. They also incorporate tools such as clinical alerts and reminders to support their decisions. While interoperability between various platforms often remains an elusive goal, ideally EHRs will play a pivotal role in enhancing billing and coding processes for faster reimbursement, as well as better communication among clinicians, labs, pharmacies and health plans.
For patients, EHRs mean less paperwork to fill out while waiting for appointments, as well as greater access to their own diagnostic and treatment information. The growing use of EHRs can also expose potential safety problems with new medications, devices or treatments, leading to better patient outcomes.
CMS estimates that more than 70 percent of eligible physicians and other clinicians and more than 95 percent of eligible hospitals have successfully used EHRs and received incentive payments from the federal government. “That represents great progress from the days when a doctor’s handwriting needed to be interpreted and paper records could be misplaced,” said the agency. “We are committed to working with physicians, clinicians, hospitals, consumers, and other stakeholders to make these programs as effective as possible.”