Between e-visits with doctors, the availability of online ER appointments and remote monitoring of discharged heart patients, this is clearly no longer your father’s healthcare. Our HIT List this week highlights these high-tech innovations and some eye-opening observations from physicians about their EHR use.

  1. Candid talk about EHRs. 70% of physicians say EHRs decrease their face time with patients, but more than a third say it improves their ability to respond to patient issues. 81% say they have become more comfortable with their EHR over time, but nearly half worry they will lose patient information through technological malfunction. Check out this new Medscape survey for some eye-opening observations about EHRs from 18,575 physicians in 25 specialties.
  2. Slash that ER wait. Hoping to reduce wait times and improve the patient experience, some hospitals have started encouraging patients to make online ER visits if their situations aren’t life-threatening. Dignity Health, which is aggressively marketing the option, says about 12,000 patients have scheduled ER visits at its hospitals in three states. Make sense to you?
  3. Hospital bills plunge with RPM. Average total hospital charges plummeted 72% when rural and underserved heart failure patients were remotely monitored, new research says. The number and length of hospital stays also dropped big-time. Still, the study’s authors remain reluctant to credit remote patient monitoring alone for the impressive numbers. It definitely seems worth exploring, though — wouldn’t you agree?
  4. Telehealth game changer. CMS has proposed new rules expanding the list of Medicare-eligible services to include psychological testing, psychotherapy, prolonged office visits, wellness check-ups and chronic care management when conducted via telehealth platforms. If approved, these changes go into effect January 1, 2015, and will significantly improve accessibility to care. What telehealth services do you offer?
  5. Insurers embrace e-visits. A growing number of insurers would love for patients to replace in-person doctor visits with online consultations, while many physicians are approaching the option more cautiously. But no doubt factors such as increased demand for primary care and more convenience — along with lower costs — will continue to drive patients to e-visits. Have you seen the potential yet?
  6. Time to ramp up EHR standardization. More than 93% of hospitals use at least one EMR, but the lack of EMR standards raises the risk of safety and security problems. This author urges healthcare to skip the “proprietary isolationist” years other industries indulged in and move full speed ahead to a new era of standardization, collaboration and data sharing — for the sake of patient health and privacy. What steps are you taking to get there from here?
  7. Seniors love their Wi-Fi. A new study says that only 40% of senior housing organizations have a chief information officer, even though tech-savvy residents are bringing their own technology with them — and demanding campus-wide connectivity and support so they can make the most of it. These experts advise working closely with technology partners to build a solid foundation, and engaging with the entire staff in fostering a tech-enabled environment. What moves are you making to keep seniors connected?


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