Stevens & Stevens’ Mike Pipitone discusses electronic conversion challenges, solutions
TAMPA—Navigating the labyrinth changes involving the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) statewide has challenged healthcare providers and led to the frenzied creation of many information technology firms vying for vendor certification to help with implementation.
Florida Medical News spoke with Mike Pipitone, director of business development for Tampa-based Stevens & Stevens Business Records Management Inc., about challenges and solutions facing the medical industry in the electronic conversation process. Established in 1994, the family-owned, full-service records management firm works with some 400 healthcare facilities across the state, from small practices to the largest healthcare system in the Tampa area.
What is the biggest challenge healthcare facilities face with records management as they shift to electronic health records?
For decades, providers and clinicians have documented everything from the patient encounter on paper and charts; so it’s no surprise most medical offices are bulging with files. With the adoption of electronic medical record systems (EMR), practices and healthcare facilities are now struggling with how to handle and convert thousands of paper records. Organizing, preparing, scanning and ensuring the quality of the files can take countless hours for medical staff to complete. For many offices, that’s time and money they don’t have to spare.
How does Stevens & Stevens assist healthcare facilities with making the switch to electronic records?
This kind of transition really requires a partnership between the healthcare office or system and the records management provider. First and foremost, it’s important for us to understand how your office or system operates, what you’re doing now for record keeping and what you hope to accomplish. Then we can begin helping you achieve your records management goals. A big part of the transition is ensuring it’s a smooth one. With 18 years of experience, techniques to insure going paperless can be accomplished with minimal stress. The approach has to be effortless to use but also secure.
By combining hardcopy storage and management, imaging and various “Scan on Demand” techniques, we provide a comprehensive clinical document management procedure. One of the most widely used solutions is Scan on Demand. When a healthcare provider adopts an EMR system, they immediately think they need to scan their last seven years of charts into the system. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially since the majority of the inactive files will never be opened again. We always ask, “Why scan a record if you won’t need it?” Since it’s important to use existing office space for revenue generation, we can place the hardcopy records into storage and scan only the records needed, when you need them. It’s a much more cost-effective solution that still allows a practice or system to meet its goals.
These images can then be stored on a secure, cloud-based document management solution or imported directly into their EMR system. We have worked with countless EMR systems and have developed proprietary import routines to make importing extremely easy. We also utilize a tracking system that manages the entire lifecycle of the records, whether they’re in paper or digital form, so with a click of a mouse, a healthcare provider can view every piece of data related to their records; including whether it’s being stored, if the file was pulled, when it was last accessed or when it has reached its full “shelf-life.”
What are the primary benefits of shifting to electronic medical records?
There are a number of benefits to EMRs, both for the healthcare facility and patients:
- Record retention schedules are maintained. Instead of saving medical records for years longer than necessary, or destroying them before you should, the documents are retained for the proper period of time so providers are protected during a court case or audit.
- Information is accessible 24/7. Patient information is made available when and where it’s needed to allow providers to access all the information needed to diagnose health issues earlier and ensure continuity of care.
- Information is complete and accurate. Patient care documentation is real-time and more complete with increased accuracy making it easier for providers to know more about their patients and their health history.
- Increased patient involvement. EMRs encourage patients to take an active role in monitoring their health records in a secure online environment.
- Compliance. When healthcare providers adopt an EMR system, the providers automatically comply with the requirements set by federal and state regulations. By using the system in a meaningful way, the providers can qualify for government incentive programs.
For some, the prospect of shifting to EMRs is overwhelming.
We understand that. It is a big job; but it’s something we do every day for clients. Once you’re done with the initial transition, it really is easy to maintain and monitor your records. That’s why it’s important to work with a firm that you trust and someone with experience in the business.