Customers or Clients… What’s the Difference?

Catherine Armstrong

Catherine Armstrong

Director, Communications at SRS Health
Catherine brings over 20 years of marketing, communications, and brand stewardship experience to her role as Director of Communications at SRS. She has worked for nationally recognized brands in the healthcare information technology, real estate, hospitality, and luxury automotive industries, including SRS Health, BMW North America, WCI Communities, Cendant, and Orient Express Hotels. She has a passion for understanding the challenges facing her audience, and connecting them with their ideal solutions. Catherine has a B.S. degree in Communications, and is currently working on her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
Catherine Armstrong

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I have read a lot of books on customer service, including, J. W. Marriott’s The Spirit to Serve and Without Reservations, as well as Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell, upscale clothier to the rich and famous. Both describe the service culture, personal attributes, and dedication required to build a trusted brand and to create an exemplary customer experience that keeps customers coming back.

A lot can be learned from these entrepreneurs and the organizations they’ve built. In fact, we at SRS Health have a lot in common with them in striving to create an experience that exceeds expectations. But there is one important difference. While these trusted brands sell a product or service, we are charged with offering our clients ongoing professional guidance and support.

In short, customer service involves a one-time transaction (which may be repeated if there is a good experience) while client service involves an ongoing relationship (which may not go on very long if there is not a good experience).

With the healthcare landscape changing at a rapid pace, a good client experience requires an atmosphere of mutual trust so that medical professionals can rely on their healthcare IT partners to advise them. Just as financial counselors are charged with ensuring their clients are informed and prepared to make sound investments decisions, HCIT partners are charged with ensuring that their clients have the insight to make sound decision regarding their healthcare IT investments.

But that is not all—we are also charged with providing expertise in regard to compliance, operational efficiency, patient engagement, and more. As trusted advisors, we need to know where the industry is headed, and to provide the solutions that prepare our clients to succeed in that future.

At SRS, we like to say that our expertise is helping specialists practice their expertise—we provide solutions that take care of the business side of medicine so that medical professionals can take care of their patients. In practice, this means integrating intelligence within physicians’ workflows—where it can be seen and used to help them make informed patient care decisions efficiently and effectively.

And it doesn’t end there—we also provide the business intelligence within the administrative workflow, so that business leaders can utilize the data to improve operational efficiencies, lower cost, build their practice reputation, and improve their bottom line.

A continued passion for, and commitment to, ensuring that our clients are prepared to achieve their patient care and practice profitability goals—that is how we grow our relationship and earn their trust each and every day.

Does your healthcare IT partner make you feel like a customer or a client?

Hackathon IV: Notes 2.0 and Beyond… A New Evolution Has Begun

Vishu Viswanathan

Vishu Viswanathan

Director of Software Engineering at SRS Health
Vishu started his career with SRS Health as the Director of Program Management, and is now the Director of Software Engineering. In this role, he is responsible for the architecture, design, and development operations for the SRS product lines.

Prior to joining SRS in 2017, Vishu was with GE Healthcare, where he was the SW Engineering Director for the Centricity Imaging PACS product. Vishu has had a successful career in the healthcare industry, with deep domain expertise in Healthcare imaging, devices and information technology, and medical software development. He began his career as a Software Engineer with GE Healthcare and has held progressively responsible roles in both product development and program management.

Vishu is an Agile practitioner and is passionate about people and product development. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering, and Masters in Business Administration.
Vishu Viswanathan

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Hackathon 1Last month, SRS Health participated in an energizing, collaborative and fun-filled Hackathon IV, a company-wide event designed to stimulate the innovative mind-set and competitive spirit of the organization to explore creative solutions for client needs.

The theme for the 4th Annual Hackathon Event was, Notes 2.0 and Beyond. Technological advancements in the healthcare space has enabled the use of various mobile devices and technologies at the point-of-care. The team was challenged to come up with ideas that revolutionize the process of capturing and documenting patient encounters, while maintaining/improving accuracy, high productivity, and efficiency for the end user.

Scores of ideas were submitted from across the organization and narrowed down to six ideas that our hackathon teams focused on. At the end of the event, the organization held a traditional “science fair” to showcase the incredibly innovative solutions developed over the one-week event.

We are excited that a number of these concepts have the potential to make it into future versions of our products. We look forward to sharing them with our clients in the 2018 User Summit’s Innovation Expo in October in Las Vegas.

At SRS Health, we strive to bring innovative healthcare IT solutions to the marketplace and our hackathon events allow the team to innovate without restraints.

Hackathon 2

Spring at SRS Brings New Growth

Khal Rai

Khal Rai

CEO at SRS Health
Khal Rai brings over 20 years of leadership experience to his role as President and CEO at SRS. He possesses a breadth of knowledge and expertise in the healthcare and technology sectors earned through a career that has spanned the globe. His passion for collaboration, strategic development, and delivering healthcare IT solutions that make it easier for medical professionals to deliver care while navigating the ever-changing healthcare industry, inspires and motivates his team, while positioning SRS Health clients for current and future success. Khal has a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.
Khal Rai

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ceo-spring-blogThree months have passed since I took over the reins at SRS Health, and what I have enjoyed most over that time is sharing in our clients’ successes, as well as learning about the challenges they face, their experiences, and their visions for the future. So far this year, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of them on the phone and off traveling around the country to meet others in their practices or at conferences like ADAM, AAOS, AAOE, The OrthoForum, and HIMSS.

One recurring theme that has been a part of every conversation is the need to embrace change—to look forward, to anticipate, and to strive for improvement. Our mission is to help our clients do just that. We are excited to share the innovations SRS has been working on to help our clients excel at the practice and the business of medicine. Here are a few examples:

SRS Health launches the first end-to-end integrated clinical and financial solution suite for high-performance enterprise practices

I am pleased to announce that SRS recently debuted a unique and powerful new addition to our end-to-end software suite that leverages both clinical and financial expertise. What makes this solution unique is the integration that addresses true episodic care. SRS’ roots in the orthopaedic market combined with the new financial management capabilities offers a seamless set of tools for enhancing workflows, adapting to regulatory changes, adopting risk-based models, managing the increase in patient economic responsibility, and expanding programs in the employer market.

The Opioid Crisis and Drug Monitoring

As you know, the opioid crisis has become a top-of-mind political, social, and policy challenge. SRS has committed to joining the fight by being the first specialty EHR to offer PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program) checking and documentation integrated within the prescribing workflow—delivering a 67% time savings over current methods. More than 40 states already have PDMP mandates and it won’t be long before they all do. This is a great step in keeping our clients ahead of the curve.

Improving Our Clients’ Experience

While working on innovation, we haven’t forgotten about our clients’ day-to-day experience. To ensure their success, we have been formalizing the structure of the SRS Client Success Program. This year we’ve launched the Client Success Training Program and the Features Improvement Team. In addition, we have increased our clients’ ability to integrate with registries, HIEs, and more. These programs ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to fully leverage their HCIT solutions, the facility to share knowledge across their organization, and the connections to exchange information with optimal efficiency.

Medicine continues to put more and more demands on physicians, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals, and we’re excited that our integrated solutions suite optimizes performance and care before, during, and after the patient encounter. Our goal is to help our clients by taking care of the business of medicine, so they can focus on what matters most—their patients.

Better Patient Reported Outcomes Lead to Better Outcomes

Barbara Mullarky

Barbara Mullarky

Director, Product Management at SRS Health
Barbara has had a successful career in the healthcare industry, working for both vendors and healthcare provider organizations. She has held roles in sales, marketing, product management and professional services, working with EMR and department-focused solutions for the laboratory and imaging.

Prior to becoming the Director of Product Management at SRS, Barbara was with GE Healthcare (now GE Digital), where she held the positions of Senior Product Marketing Manager for Centricity imaging products, Product Marketing Manager and Customer Collaboration Leader for what is now Caradigm, and Upstream Marketing Manager for Centricity Laboratory. Barbara also worked at the University of Arizona Medical Center, where she managed a team that was responsible for implementing and maintaining 27 departmental IT solutions, the ambulatory EMR and the patient safety initiatives.

Originally from New Jersey, Barbara now lives with her husband in Tucson, AZ. She is a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Medicine and is a registered Medical Technologist. When not at work, she loves traveling, taking photographs, watching football and spending time with her two Brittanys.
Barbara Mullarky

Outcomes is a hot topic in the healthcare industry. It is one of the criteria being used to define value-based reimbursement strategies and, more importantly, to drive better care for patients.

For some time now, payers and government agencies have been using traditional measures to evaluate outcomes, assessing the number of patients who were readmitted within 30 days, or how many post-surgical infections occurred. For the most part, this data was retrospectively analyzed; it was used to put process improvements into place, but it seldom took into account patients’ own opinions on how they were doing. Ultimately, how can we claim a successful outcome if the patient doesn’t subjectively experience an improvement in health and well-being?

outcomes-blog-v2Many EHRs provide some level of clinical decision support—reminding doctors of how long it has been since an osteoporosis patient’s last bone scan, or when it’s time to review an arthritis patient’s therapy and order blood tests for his or her medications. Some might put this in the category of outcomes, but to me, they are really alerts. Can they affect outcomes—of course! But do they really tell us how the patient is doing?

To change this paradigm, practices are moving toward collecting and measuring patient reported outcomes (PROs). The National Quality Forum defines PROs as, “any report of the status of a patient’s health condition that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.” PROs provide data on what patients are able to do and how they feel by asking questions. They not only cover the clinical aspects of pain, swelling, and range of motion, they assess the patient’s reported status for physical, mental, and social well-being.

In orthopaedics, standardized surveys such as PROMIS, HOOS, and KOOS have been designed to collect patient-reported information before and after surgical procedures. This allows physicians to prospectively and retrospectively evaluate data provided by their patients.

Prospectively, the surveys can be used to determine the factors that will drive a better outcome for the patient. Using best practices standards, physicians can make a determination prior to taking action as to how successful the outcome will be. By discussing potential outcomes, lifestyle factors, and behavioral changes with the patient before surgery is scheduled, doctors can better predict the outcome and recommend the best path—all while controlling costs. For example, if a patient does not have reliable transportation to get to follow-up appointments and physical therapy, physicians might provide information on local transportation services or decide on inpatient versus outpatient rehab.

Retrospectively, if a patient reports unsatisfactory results, doctors can gauge the patient’s feedback against the original expectations of the treatment plan. It might be that the patient is meeting, or even surpassing, the predicted outcome. That little piece of information might change the patient’s outlook and get him or her back on the path to success. Alternately, doctors can determine what could have been done to either reach a better outcome, or develop a more accurate prediction. These learnings can be implemented as best practice to drive better outcomes for future patients.

PROs can also be used as a benchmarking tool, as a way to gauge success against others in the same practice or the same market.

Today, only 35% of orthopaedic practices are collecting outcomes data. Part of this is due to the complexity of managing the process—of collecting, analyzing, and making the data relevant. The most critical step is of course getting the patient to respond to surveys, but equally important is presenting that data in a way that orthopaedists can review it and share it with the patient at the point of care, during the appointment. This allows them to intervene quickly when a negative outcome is reported. Imagine a future when a patient reporting a pain level of 9, a knee that is red and swollen, and an inability to stand without assistance automatically triggers a message to your office to call and intervene. Not only can this save the patient an unnecessary trip to the emergency room, but it can potentially save the practice money if it is doing bundled payments.

At SRS, we believe that the process of collecting and acting on patient reported outcomes should be as automated as possible, and should all take place in the same system you work in, day in and day out—your EHR. That is why we have made this vision a reality with our integrated Outcomes solution.

Why an EHR Solution Is a Must-Have for 2018

Diane Beatini

Diane Beatini

Vice President, Sales at SRS Health
Diane Beatini is the Vice President of Sales. She oversees the Sales, Account Management, and Sales Operations teams. She works to promote the complete SRS product suite of HCIT solutions to medical practices of varied sizes and specialties. Diane’s background includes an MBA in marketing and finance with 15 years of executive sales and customer service management experience in the radiology, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries.
Diane Beatini

Looking back at 2017 as we head into 2018, the resounding theme in healthcare has been the push to bring down costs and drive up quality by increasing efficiency and improving care coordination. As the healthcare landscape shifts and evolves with groundbreaking alliances such as the proposed CVS Health/Aetna partnership, it is interesting to note that the percentage of office-based physicians using an EMR/EHR solution is a significant 86.9%, with only a small percentage of medical practices still using traditional paper charts. (Health IT Dashboard)

Reasons cited by physicians for remaining on paper include failed implementations, fear of a loss in productivity, and security concerns. While these are valid concerns, practicing medicine using traditional paper charts is becoming increasingly difficult as the industry moves to a value-based payment model, with more emphasis placed on patient engagement, interoperability, and shared patient data.

Typically, physicians spend 30–40 hours per week interacting with their patients. In a paper-based office, each patient visit results in approximately 10–13 pieces of paperwork, detracting from the time spent on patient care. (Benefits of Modern EMR vs. Paper Medical Records) Even if the physicians themselves do not handle the paper, their staff must, and a paper-driven staff results in an unproductive office. Since paper charts can only be in one location, clinical and administrative staff spend valuable time locating and providing charts. When there are multiple office locations, the additional chart transport compounds the problem and the practice becomes even more unproductive. Most practice administrators estimate the cost of a chart pull at $5.00 in lost productivity. Multiplied across hundreds and thousands of active charts, the numbers become staggering.

To remain competitive in the ever-changing healthcare environment and to attract patients and physician recruits, an EHR solution is a must-have for 2018 and beyond. As the penalties increase and reimbursements decline year by year, EHRs play a critical role in helping to preserve and drive revenue and reduce costs. Significant benefits of adopting an EHR include:

  • Reduced Administrative Burden An EHR can eliminate redundancies in documentation, provide fast and accurate record transmission, and drive efficiencies throughout the clinic, inclusive of patient intake. This can be accomplished while mimicking the traditional paper chart, which allows for an easy transition from paper to an electronic system.
  • Heightened Cost Efficiencies – An EHR can drive productivity, saving physicians and clinical staff valuable time and reducing the need and/or cost of transcription services, chart rooms, and record clerks. Regulatory resources through a reputable HCIT partner can assist the practice in penalty avoidance and meeting the requirements for MACRA/MIPS.
  • Patient Referrals/Community Presence – A 2006 Harris Interactive Poll reported 55% of adults believed that the use of EHRs would reduce the number of medical errors, and 60% believed the use of EHRs would lower their healthcare costs. (Benefits of Modern EMR vs. Paper Medical Records). Since that time, patients have come to expect electronic access and communication with their providers through the use of a patient portal. In addition to medical records access, secured messaging, and appointment and refill requests, an integrated patient portal embedded in the EHR allows patient-entered information and demographics to automatically populate the chart and the note, saving critical time and expense.
  • Patient Safety – EHRs improve patient safety by providing an organized, all-inclusive electronic chart that houses reminders, messages, and alerts in addition to exam notes, diagnostic images, and medical, medication, and allergy history. Each chart is readily accessible from any office location as well as remotely so providers have the complete information when responding to messages from inside or outside the office.

So why do some practices continue to hold out? The most common reason cited for not making the transition is the inability to obtain a physician consensus—there are differing opinions as to the best EHR, and even as to the best approach, including how much or little interaction they want with the solution, and the degree of elimination of paper from the practice.

Successful adoption of a solution, therefore, can be ensured by working with a vendor who can tailor the implementation to the needs of the practice and its providers, addressing individual physician workflow preferences and providing flexibility and ease of use. Further, practices can ensure that the solution will support their preferred clinical workflows by choosing an established and recognized EHR partner with proven experience in their medical specialty. The right partner will also be able to provide testimonials and client references documenting its ability to implement, train, and transition practices from paper charts without any impact on either patient volume or productivity. Is your practice still on paper and if so, what’s holding you back?

Like Holiday Gifts, “Patient-centric Care” is about Quality, Not Quantity

The end of the December is a time for reflection on the closing year, and for making plans for the new one. It’s a time for top-ten lists and New Year’s resolutions. But for now, let’s focus on one of the top buzzwords of the year in healthcare: Patient-centric care. 

It’s actually been several years now that patient-centric care has been gaining buzz-worthy status, and like most trendy new concepts, it has often been used without a clear consensus on what it actually means. Most recently, for instance, it has become a catchall term for any care that offers a more comprehensive focus on the patient. And that should make us pause and think—how in the world did medicine ever lose its comprehensive focus on the patient? There have been many factors, to be sure, but the primary driver seems to have been physicians’ and practices’ need to align themselves with payment models that rewarded the volume of visits over the value of care.

This has permeated all levels of healthcare for many years. Whether it was the development of healthcare IT strategies, the crafting of EHR systems, the HIMSS stages of adoption and utilization, or the use of performance scorecards and data warehouses and analytics—all the focus was on maintaining high volumes of patient care, while a comprehensive approach to the patient often got lost in the flood of individual symptoms, tests, and treatments.

That is, until the recent sea change in the industry that shifted payment models from rewarding for quantity to rewarding for quality. This was a necessary correction, but the resulting increase in focus on value-based contracts puts healthcare providers at risk for the total cost and quality of care provided.  It has also highlighted significant holes in IT and data strategies that need to be addressed if an organization is successful in this new payment paradigm. At the top of that list of necessary improvements is patient engagement.

How to Engage? 

Patient engagement isn’t something that takes place at one point on the healthcare continuum—it’s a way of reorganizing the care continuum so that patient input and feedback are integral parts of the process at every step. Proper patient engagement aims to:

  • Involve patients in their own healthcare, leading to better outcomes and increased patient satisfaction;
  • Meet patient expectations for better ways to access and engage with their healthcare information and data;
  • Automate patient intake and other processes, helping to secure ROI;
  • Leverage patients to enter data, freeing practice staff to focus on patient care;
  • Improve communication between patients and caregivers;
  • Improve compliance with government regulations; and
  • Provide a global platform for patient access that spans multiple facets of the practice, i.e. physical therapy, urgent care, and other office locations.

This means that, when it comes to IT issues, practices need to choose the right vendor if they want to make patient engagement a reality. They need a vendor who does more than just sell a one-size-fits-all solution; they need a partner in the process of restructuring established workflows for greater efficiency, reduced costs, and better patient engagement. Achieving this is a big enough task on its own, so it’s important to minimize any potential challenges to adoption. The solution has to be:

  • Easy-to-use for both patients and practice staff;
  • Vendor neutral (not limited to the products of a specific manufacturer);
  • Data standardized, so the data can be accurately exchanged between different systems, increasing confidence of both doctors and patients; and
  • Able to connect and communicate with EHRs, HIEs, and ACOs.

As we move from volume- to value-based reimbursement, it is critical to understand how to best utilize the available tools and solutions to get patients actively engaged in their healthcare. Achieving this goal won’t be easy, but we will be creating better outcomes for both patients and for the practices that care for them. Is this at the top of your list for the New Year?

Power of the Patient Interface

patient-powerHealthcare providers have long known that engaging patients leads to improved health outcomes; in a value-based payment world, engaged patients also provide a stronger framework for increased revenues. For this to happen, however, practices need the right patient engagement platform—one that not only empowers patients to become partners in their own healthcare, but that also documents that engagement.

A reliable, cutting-edge patient portal, for example, can enlist patients to provide extensive personal health data outside of the actual healthcare encounter, freeing up caregivers to spend more time with patients. Further, as population health becomes of increasing concern, practices whose patient engagement platform offers the ability to aggregate and analyze these individual health histories will have a head start. Patient engagement is where relevant data on population health begins.

It is equally important that the patient portal supports compliance with MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment Systems), enabling practices to comply with government requirements under Meaningful Use and MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP [Children’s Health Insurance Program] Reauthorization Act) regulations—this will increase Medicare payments and minimize takebacks.

Finally, the patient portal needs to integrate seamlessly with the organization’s electronic health record, health information exchange, and accountable care organization, if any. The right solution will be flexible enough to adapt to the healthcare facility’s IT system, not the other way around.

ACOs and Triple Aim’s interest in patient engagement

Patient engagement was not initially a concern of accountable care organizations (ACOs), which were born of healthcare reform as a way to redefine the shared responsibility of doctors and hospital staff for coordinating care, improving quality, and lowering costs. That changed when the Affordable Care Act officially codified them into law, and recognized that ACOs could not succeed without patient engagement.

Patient engagement has also been deemed essential for the success of the Triple Aim, a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement for optimizing health system performance by:

  • improving the patient experience (including quality and satisfaction);
  • improving population health; and
  • reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.

According to the IHI, “quality” is defined from the perspective of an individual member of a given population which leads logically to a focus on patient-centric care and patient engagement.

The ideal patient portal should be easy-to-use, responsive, and allow your patients to communicate with your practice on their terms. Practices need to communicate and connect with their patients to improve healthcare.

Do you have the right platform to engage your patients?