Current reforms under the Obama Care are geared towards greater accountability in the U.S. health care system. The use of technology, including electronic medical record (EMR) systems, is essential in effectively adapting to such changes. A robust EMR system has the capacity to reduce medical errors, makes the documentation and communication of information more efficient, and enables the cost-effective storage of records (Harrington et al., 2011). It is a highly useful technology that will enhance the quality of care of patients, reduce the probability of lawsuits arising from medical errors and increase the job satisfaction of nurses. Hence, investment in an EMR system such as DocuTap is worthwhile considering its positive impact on human resources and health care services which in turn will contribute to a greater financial return for the organization.
DocuTap is a web-based EMR software tailored for cardiology, general practice and family practice of any size (Now comparing, 2013). It is certified by the Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ATCBs) through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (DocuTap EHR, n.d.). By using certified software, the organization fulfills one eligibility criterion for grants offered under the HITECH Act of 2009. DocuTap also fulfills many of the ambulatory criteria and clinical quality measures of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), one of the existing ATCBs focusing on ambulatory care technologies (Now comparing, 2013).
Specifically, the software meets quality measures in the areas of adult weight, youth weight and breast cancer screening as well as criteria for blood pressure control and measurement, child and influenza immunization, diabetic patients and smoking assessment and cessation (Now comparing, 2013). Moreover, DocuTap allows the calculation and submission of these measures along with the recording of patient demographic data. Other key features include clinical summaries, clinical support system (CSS), computerized provider order entry (CPOE), electronic prescribing, and communication of information.
The software also enables users to issue patient reminders, electronic copies of information pertaining to health and patient summaries. It allows image management, scheduling of appointments, billing and email by multiple users (Now comparing, 2013). Among its security features are automatic log-off to prevent unauthorized use and backup to ensure that records are retrievable during unintended system crashes (Now comparing, 2013). It also permits encryption to ensure the integrity and security of file transfers. Though it does not offer on-site training, it provides support for resolving technical issues 24/7 (Now comparing, 2013).
DocuTap is a viable EMR system and its use will have a positive impact on the areas of quality of care, quality of life, cost of care and access to care. Regarding quality of care, the software makes the coordination of patient care during transitions from one provider and another and between one clinical setting and another more efficient (Hillestad et al., 2005). Electronic storage, retrieval and communication of patient information prevent delays in care or the inability to make sound clinical decisions due to misplaced or missing information. The EHR software’s CSS and CPOE minimize the possibility of contraindicated medications and wrong doses being prescribed for patients among others. Screening and assessment tools, along with control of common patient problems also help increase the quality of care.
Moreover, a tool for reminding patients regarding appointments and treatment regimens enhances compliance to treatment which is significantly associated with better health outcomes and a higher quality of life (Martinez et al., 2008). Another benefit in adopting a certified EMR system is that it has the potential to lower the costs of care by preventing the duplication of imaging and diagnostic procedures during care transitions. By helping enhance health care quality, DocuTap allows the provision of cost-effective services through prompt and appropriate care, less complications and shorter hospital stays (Thompson & Fleming, 2008). Regarding access to care, DocuTap facilitates patient utilization of services through the electronic scheduling of patient assessments. Finally, electronic records represent readily available patient data for use in monitoring health care quality (Hillestad et al., 2005).
The adoption of an EMR system in an urgent care setting impacts patient care and the social, ethical and financial aspects of the organization as well. Studies show that the successful implementation of EMRs like DocuTap promotes interdisciplinary collaboration through greater transparency and is one area that providers using such a system are most satisfied about (Reitz et al., 2012). Health care professionals directly providing care to patients are able to track what other members of the team have done or plan to do and hence can tailor their own care plans to support the care provided by other disciplines. DocuTap also adds another medium for communication between and within disciplines through the chat system.
A potential ethical issue with the adoption of EMR technology is the protection of the privacy and confidentiality of patient information (Raths, 2008). With electronic records, the possibility of unauthorized access and use of patient information is high without any effective safeguards. Aside from automatic log-off, back up and data encryption, security measures cannot be accomplished solely by software. Organizational systems and processes need to also be modified in order to create a work environment that promotes adherence to HIPAA (Raths, 2008). Setting up a security department to plan and implement policies and instilling the ethical responsibility among staff to protect patients’ rights to privacy are two of the major challenges that must be overcome.
Finally, on the financial side, an EMR system represents a significant capital investment, not to mention maintenance and human resource-related expenses, would pose difficulties for a cash-strapped organization. However, urgent care centers can avail of government grants and other forms of support in order to set up an EMR system. DocuTap also provides reliable technical support as a vendor. In terms of financial return, one study estimates that the widespread adoption of EMR systems can generate $371 billion in net savings in 15 years (Hillestad et al., 2005). In conjunction with other quality improvement initiatives, the long term advantages of an EMR that would translate to return of investment include being able to add a competitive edge in the market for urgent care services, less chances of expensive lawsuits, increased job satisfaction of employees and reduced turnover rates.
In conclusion, advances in technology can lead to safer, more efficient, more cost effective and accountable health care. DocuTap is a robust system that can be adopted for use in an urgent care setting. It is certified and has many features suited for family and general practice. As an EMR, it has a positive impact on the quality of patient care, patient satisfaction, costs of care and access care. However, there are several ethical, social and financial issues, positive and negative, that must be taken into account when considering utilization of an EMR.
DocuTap Electronic Health Records software by DocuTap (n.d.) Retrieved from http://ehr-software.findthebest.com/l/54/DocuTap
Harrington, L., Porch, L.P., Acosta, K., & Wilkens, K. (2011). Realizing electronic medical record benefits: An easy-to-do usability study. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 41(7/8), 331-335.
Martinez, Y.V., Prado-Aguilar, C.A., Rascon-Pacheco, R.A., & Valdivia-Martinez, J.J. (2008). Quality of life associated with treatment adherence in patients with type 2 diabetes: A cross-sectional study. BMC Health Services Research, 8(164). Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/8/164/
Now comparing: DocuTap vs. Centricity Practice Solution 9.5. (2013). Retrieved from http://ehr-software.findthebest.com/compare/54-230/DocuTap-vs-Centricity-Practice-Solution-9-5
Raths, D. (2008). Stay out of my EMR. Healthcare Informatics, 25(5), 43-44.
Reitz, R., Common, K., Fifield, P., & Stiasny, E. (2012). Collaboration in the presence of an electronic health record. Families, Systems & Health, 30(1), 72-80.
Robinson, S. (2010). Technology speaks. Policy and Practice, 68(4), 31.
Thompson, D.I., & Fleming, N.S. (2008). Finding the ROI in EMRs. Healthcare Financial Management, 62(7), 76-81.