As times change, a group practice enters the modern EHR era

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Richland Medical Center, an independent 26-provider group practice with three sites in rural southwest Wisconsin, has used a legacy electronic health record for more than 20 years, but in the age of value-based accountable care and the desire to become a patient-centered medical home, a major upgrade in technology was in order.

At the time it bought the original EHR the vendor had not yet fully developed the practice management system so most administrative functions were done manually and it pretty much stayed that way until now, says Brian Puls, assistant administrator of finance. But with pay-for-performance a growing mandate among insurers and serving a population of 30,000, Richland now needs modern technology to capture the data.

Consequently, the organization selected Aprima Medical Software as its EHR, practice management and revenue cycle management vendor with a suite of applications to support multiple specialties including family medicine, orthopedics, general surgery at 25-bed Richland Hospital, obstetrics, gynecology and cardiology, among others.

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Aprima got the contract based on a track record of meeting regulatory requirements and the offering of chronic care management tools, mobile technology, electronic prescribing, charge capture, easier physician documentation, data extraction capability and customizability, according to Puls.

The practice is two months into its implementation work with a projected go-live of Dec. 5 and 11 staff members now are being trained to become super users and help other clinicians and staff members learn to use the information systems. In total, the practice has 110 employees who need to get comfortable with the new software.

“We are putting process in place to get better at using the software to its full capability,” Puls says. “While we still see the majority of healthcare as fee-for-service, pay-for-quality is coming and we need the tools to react.”

The new software suite further will aid the practice in succeeding in the MIPS payment program as well as meeting regulatory compliance for quality improvement and reporting. Richland Medical Center also has adopted electronic prescribing via Surescripts, which pulls out prescription data to enable the practice to track medication compliance of patients and have a complete medication reconciliation process.

Now, Richland Medical Center is adopting data analytics with the initial goal of enabling physicians to track blood glucose levels of diabetic patients. The Aprima software further will aid in handling rural health regulatory compliance issues, according to Puls.

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