Health Information Management

When selecting an EHR vendor, don't forget the add-ons!

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 25, 2011

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by Darice M. Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA

I was recently working on an EHR project, and there was a deep and vibrant discussion about which functionalities are part of the “core” EHR and which are “add-ons.” I came to the conclusion that the line is becoming quite blurred between what has historically been hospital information system (HIS) vs. EHR functionality.
In the past, HIS vendors focused most heavily on core processes and departments (e.g., patient registration, finance, HIM, patient financial services, decision support, and all of the ancillary and clinical care areas that touch transaction processing, order, and charge capture). HIS concentrated on back-end administrative functions such as master patient index functionality and general ledger, supplies, and charge description master maintenance so bills could get out the door in a timely, efficient, and accurate manner. HIS strengths were definitely in the more administrative and nonclinical areas.
As EHR vendors entered the workspace, their primary focus was more on the patient care experience. They emphasized order entry, test and results reporting, medication management, clinical documentation, and results trending to support clinicians. Secondary functionalities to support financial and other administrative processes were often missing or bare bones. But the EHR filled a void that the traditional HIS vendors did not meet for clinical staff.
More recently, however, HIS and EHR vendors have begun to grow their product line offerings, expanding ever more into the areas where they were traditionally weaker (i.e., HIS systems added more robust clinical applications, and EHR systems moved into the financial, supply, billing, and informatics areas). Now facilities must make choices about which direction to go and which vendor will best meet their needs; the distinction between an HIS and an EHR vendor has become almost irrelevant.
Note: To read more, visit the Medical Records Briefing website. Subscribers have access to this article in the January issue of their newsletters.

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