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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

May 31 2013   8:37AM GMT

Mobile charge capture and more: how mHealth apps can fill EHR gaps

Posted by: RedaChouffani
Apps, mhealth, mobile charge capture

As more physicians use electronic medical records (EHRs), the way we document, bill and consume patient health information is changing. Typically, interactions with EHRs begin and stay within the boundaries of the medical practice. But some healthcare disciplines still have plenty of gaps where care providers use paper-based processes and documentation – despite the potential for EHR implementation at their offices.

If we consider independent physicians with privileges in hospitals and observe their workflows and patient interactions, we can clearly see the challenges they face when it comes to tracking the patients they round on and procedures they perform via digital documentation.

Health Information access:  For physicians who must see patients outside of their facilities and lack easy access remotely to their EHR from the hospital, the lack of access can at times force them to track cases and procedures of patients on paper-based documents.

Charge capture:  When procedures are performed within surgery centers of operating rooms, there are cases where some surgeons have to document these cases on paper-based encounters.  Having to see several patients a day and relying heavily on the process of getting the paper encounters back to the office to bill can increase the chances of missing charges and delay billing and payment.

Coordination of Care:  There are many episodes where one care giver may not be the one rounding or following up on patients who have been admitted to a hospital after a specific procedure.  And for those providers who don’t document the procedure during the initial day of admission, they must rely on methods that may not be very effective to document and communicate to other rounding physicians.

Quality and Compliance: When physicians rely on paper-based documentation for charge capture and rounding lists, it’s hard to impose certain criteria related to pay for performance initiatives. This poses a challenge as there are no easy ways to assist in tracking and reporting on the compliance of these rules, not to mention added costs from outdated technology.

Fortunately, with the onset of mobile devices, many mHealth apps can help resolve some of these challenges for providers.  Whether they are mobile apps provided by EHR vendors, or charge capture apps with secure messaging,  having the ability to leverage mobile apps to efficiently capture health information as well as streamline workflows and processes would be valuable to these physicians without full access to their EHR systems.  Through this model of data collection and communication platform, these mobile charge capture and rounding apps have the ability to reduce and in many cases eliminate missing hospital charges and provide to have a significant ROI.

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