Use at Your Own Risk: The Downside of Server-Based Systems

Server-based EMR systems are risky business—and not in the fun, dance-in-your-skivvies-and-socks kind of way. These chunky monkeys are chock-full of old technology that expose your clinic to compliance risks and data losses. Here’s why you should steer clear of server-based systems:

Your PHI is only as secure as your clinic.

Most web-based EMR vendors store all their data with top-tier security firms, so you can be sure your patients’ protected health information (PHI) is safe. But if you have a server-based system, all your priceless information is stored on-site—often unencrypted—which makes the responsibility of securing your patients’ PHI yours and yours alone. Unless you’re storing your servers in a bank vault (and who has that kind of space?), you run the risk of a full-on HIPAA breach.

You can lose your data.

Keeping your information safe from PHI predators isn’t the only reason you should stay away from server-based systems. You also have to worry about keeping your information—period. When you use a web-based system, all your information backs up to the cloud. With servers, what you see is what you get—and when you lose the server, you could lose your clinic, too. Studies show that more than 50% of small businesses close up shop within a year of a major data loss. Those odds will never be in your favor.

You have to get down and dirty with upgrades.

If you have a server-based EMR, it’s up to you to maintain your system—and that includes performing all system upgrades. As you know, regulations change quickly and often, so you need your system to stay up to date. If you miss an update—or if your system doesn’t update at all—you’re putting yourself at risk for non-compliance. And that comes with a heap of nasty consequences like penalties, fees, rejected claims, and audits. Think system maintenance sounds tough? You’re right. If the upgrades are particularly difficult—or if you aren’t technologically inclined—you may even have to hire IT staff, which can be quite expensive. You’re better served (pardon the pun) using a system that handles updates for you.

 

Server-based systems are on the path to extinction for a reason: they can’t provide clinics with the security and reliability of their web-based counterparts. Unless you’re willing to gamble with your practice—and your reputation—ditch the digital dinosaur and move your files to the cloud.


Speak and Spell: Sounding Out Common Healthcare Jargon

Imagine: It’s 1985 and you’re fresh out of batteries. And that—unfortunately—means your spelling mentor (housed in bright red plastic) is out of commission for the night. It looks like you’ll be going to bed early—and without the familiar, robotic voice of Speak & Spell to coax you into dreamland. Okay, so you’re probably wondering what an old-school children’s toy has to do with you—or this post. Well, that’s a great question, and the answer lies in the alphabet soup that makes up the modern glossary of healthcare jargon. As a PT, you’re bombarded with new terms that pop up left and right. In fact, with so many new vocab words and acronyms, you might not feel much different than you did as a child in our hypothetical ’80s drama—ready to call it a night. But luckily for you, the human mind doesn’t require batteries (yet) and you won’t have to go to bed early if you can’t make it through this list. With that being said, let’s get to sounding out a few of the most common healthcare jargon terms:

EHR: Electronic health record

Electronic health records (EHRs) are digital records that focus on the overall health of the patient. These systems typically include the patient records, notes, and other medical information that’s easily accessible across multiple specialties and healthcare organizations.

EMR: Electronic medical record

EHR and EMR might seem like interchangeable terms. However, the two are distinctly different. An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of paper documentation. These records typically contain data that can be easily tracked and accessed within a practice. However, they’re not typically designed to integrate with systems in other settings (e.g., labs and specialty medical offices).

FLR: Functional limitation reporting

Floor? Flower? But, without the letters o, w, and e? Well, not quite. Functional limitation reporting (FLR) doesn’t really sound like any of those words. However, it does sound like The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will continue looking for new ways to inform the development rehab therapy payment structures—and FLR is part of these attempts. To satisfy FLR requirements, all eligible Medicare providers must report on their Medicare patients’ functional limitations to objectively demonstrate the connection between rehab therapy and patient progress.

HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

HIPAA sounds a lot like the word hippo. But this law doesn’t spend its time snoozing underwater. Rather, it serves to maintain privacy policy standards in order to protect patients’ sensitive health information per the Privacy Rule. This rule impacts how “covered entities” (e.g., healthcare providers, clearinghouses, health plans, and business associates) handle protected health information (see PHI below).

PHI: Protected health information

“And I’m PHI, PHI falling.” Uh, not quite. Protected health information (PHI) is any health information—in any form—that could individually identify a patient. Typically, PHI refers to patient demographics, but it also includes a variety of other data points that healthcare professionals collect.

PQRS: Physician Quality Reporting System

You might find yourself (or the nearest five-year-old) reciting PQRS as you sing through the alphabet. Or, if you treat Medicare patients, you might find yourself cursing these four letters. PQRS is a CMS system that encourages eligible professionals and group practices to provide measurable data on their quality of care by reporting on a series of measures. As of 2015, practices that do not meet the standards for satisfactory reporting will incur a penalty that will negatively impact reimbursements rates in 2017. Fun, right?

As it turn out, you don’t actually need those glowing green letters to decode the latest healthcare jargon.