Atlanta’s BCA Partners with its Customer Base to Speed Delivery of Better, More Efficient Care

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CEO of Electronic Medical Records Firm Says U.S. System Choking on Paper

While the U.S. has the best healthcare in the world the current system, clogged with paper records, makes it difficult to coordinate care, routinely measure quality, or reduce medical errors.

Organizations using Business Computer Applications’ (BCA) electronic medical records (EMCs) to speed patient care are also providing feedback that enables the Atlanta-based firm to improve its product line and help others unclog systems choking on paper.

“While the U.S. has the best healthcare in the world the current system, clogged with paper records, makes it difficult to coordinate care, routinely measure quality, or reduce medical errors,” says Albert Woodard, CEO of BCA, a company devoted to digitizing medical records.

He says the situation is getting worse with 80 million aging baby boomers now landing on Medicare roles at a rate of 7,000 a day and the federal government’s planned overhaul of healthcare expected to flood the system with 32 million more patients. “And this doesn’t even count healthcare for the rapidly increasing prison population which is chewing up an average of 10 percent of every state’s corrections budget,” he says.

He says BCA is continually enhancing its programs with input from its customer base. For example, Jackson Medical Clinic (JMC) in Jackson, Mississippi, a longtime BCA customer, recently beta tested and field-tested the newest version of BCA’s electronic medical record software that enables a new reporting system module to fit into its existing electronic medical record system. The new clinical data analysis and reporting tool enables clinics to practice preventive medicine which improves the quality of patient care through the ability to perform in-depth clinical analysis; create and evaluate productivity comparisons; and develop comprehensive reports. For example, clinics utilizing the enhanced reporting system can generate a list of all patients that require medical procedures. It also produces daily, monthly and yearly comparative reports, as needed. The Jackson tests also discovered that new features will make it easy for public and private health care facilities to report data to federal, state, and local governments.

BCA clients around the U.S. that are using EMR systems to increase efficiencies, save money, generate cash flow and boost productivity including the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) andTexas’ CentroMed Health & Wellness Center.

UTMB successfully converted over 120 Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities including the implementation of ten years’ worth of millions of offender health records, updating 3,500 computers, and training over 3,000 users across widely and geographically dispersed facilities in Texas. The statewide system serves some 120 state, 15 youth, and 3 federal prisons and has been recognized for helping the state of Texas realize a 45% reduction in medical tests deemed to be unnecessary. It has also resulted in a 70% reduction in the number of transfers from prison facilities to physician offices and a 38% reduction in transfers from inmate housing to emergency rooms. The EMR system covers 145 locations and handles 19 million interactions a month. Due to the program inmate medical cost-per-day has been drastically reduced to $9.67. This compares to $41.25 for California, the only state with a higher incarceration rate than Texas.

Another Texas organization, CentroMed Health & Wellness Center, has shown significant improvement in their cash flow and productivity. In just over two years, the nonprofit center went from 12 days in cash reserves to more than 80 days, reflecting an additional $5 million in cash.

“We need dramatic change in the U.S. healthcare system to overcome one of the most inefficient and deadly aspects of the current system: the fragmentation of care, where treatment occurs in isolation with virtually no information about a patient’s past,” Woodard says. “Organizations such as UTMB and CentroMed are examples of how EMRs can help reduce errors, provide better access to health information, save millions of dollars and make it easier to retrieve test results and review medical records.

“Tools like electronic medical records (EMR) are the ‘grease’ because they enable primary care physicians to connect with other stakeholders in the system, share information, and better coordinate the delivery of care,” he says. He backs up his comments saying that studies show the United States trails a number of other countries in the use of EHR systems with only 15–20 percent of U.S. physicians’ offices and 20–25 percent of hospitals adopting such systems.

“Hospitals, doctors, clinics and others are reluctant to adopt systems due to standardization; concerns about privacy; but mostly uncertainty about what’s happening in the health care industry, particularly the health care law currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court,” Woodard says. “But regardless of what happens it will not change the deluge of patients the system will be forced to cope with the next few years.

“It is obvious then that system will still be forced to turn to more efficient measures to reduce errors, realize cost efficiencies and improve patient’s health and we have those tools,” said Woodard. Hospitals, private practices and government agencies are increasingly turning to electronic medical records. For example, physicians can take laptops, iPads and smart phones from room to room or building to building. On-call staff can log in from anywhere—home, office, hospitals, or elsewhere—via a secure virtual private network to access patient information. The tools exist now to give every provider and patient access to all information necessary to prevent errors, improve patient satisfaction and improve outcomes.

“We will continue to see more marriages between computers and healthcare with hospitals and clinics as information technology begins to move from the billing departments and other back office functions into the examining room. The 2008 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directs the healthcare industry to transition from being paper dependent to Information Technology (IT).

So far the transition has been slow. Less than 10 percent of U.S. hospitals have adopted electronic medical records even in the most basic way, according to a study authored by Ashish Jha, associate professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health, and published in the April 16, 2009 New England Journal of Medicine. The report says only 1.5 percent had adopted a comprehensive system of electronic records that includes physicians' notes and orders and decision support systems that alert doctors of potential drug interactions or other problems that might result from their intended orders.

The Department of Health and Human Services is offering financial incentives to hospitals and doctors' practices that can achieve what it calls "meaningful use" of electronic records by certain dates. On the other hand, doctors and institutions that don’t comply or fall behind in the “meaningful use” category will receive lower reimbursement rates for treating Medicare patients.

About BCA
Business Computer Applications, Inc. (BCA) is a leading provider of health information technology solutions and has served hundreds of clients in public, private, and correctional healthcare. The company offers electronic medical record, practice management, financial management, scheduling, accounting, and case management information systems along with a wide range of consulting and technical services. For more information on BCA visit http://www.bca.us.

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David Scott
815 Communications Inc.
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