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Elekta's 9th Annual Medical Oncology EMR Summit

Last month, officials at Elekta hosted its ninth Medical Oncology EMR Summit at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Chicago. It was an interactive forum, and attendees were presented with information on how to optimize their electronic medical records (EMRs) to provide more efficient patient care within their medical oncology practice. Dave Eggert, medical oncology business marketing manager for Elekta Impac Software, the Summit’s sponsor, told me the Summit drew over 240 attendees—“about one-third each from clinical, information technology, and administration fields.”

Insights into how practices can comply with new federal criteria as outlined under the HITECH Act were presented as were the latest features and functionality of MOSAIQ EMR software specifically designed for use in medical oncology and radiation oncology. Attendees got a close look at a new MOSAIQ software upgrade with Surescripts® certified, integrated ePrescribing functionality, which provides users with patients’ medication details.

“Application usability is one of our customers’ most important concerns,” Eggert told me, adding that customers want ePrescribing built into their product—“not as an external ‘add-on’ requiring another application and additional keystrokes to gain the benefit of ePrescribing.”

HITECH Update

Late-breaking HITECH news included changes in how physicians can qualify as eligible professionals, and updated timelines for adopting certified EHR technology and proving meaningful use. For details, access http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/

Two important issues clarified were:
1.Despite some circulating misinformation, no programs or products are currently certified for EHR use.
2.The availability of certified EHR systems originally was expected by late fall of 2010, but this now seems doubtful, as the necessary committees are not yet in place.

Next-Generation Tumor Centers of Excellence

In a keynote address, David Katz, MD, executive director of The Advisory Board Company said “people tend to roll their eyes when someone mentions tumor centers of excellence.” Yet, more and more hospitals are developing these centers of excellence and seeking accreditation. In fact, an attendee told me that this session was one of her main reasons for attending the Summit.

Dr. Katz informed the audience that, “More than two-thirds of the 1,500 breast centers in the U.S. have expressed interest in accreditation.” According to The Oncology Roundtable of The Advisory Board Company, a survey of 188 hospitals showed that 53 percent had a fully developed, dedicated breast program; 37 percent were developing one, and 8 percent were in the planning stage, leaving only 3 percent with no program plans.

All outpatient procedures, currently the major profit-drivers in breast cancer services, are expected to increase. According to Dr. Katz, the increase will be led by breast MRIs, which is becoming “must have” technology.

Hospitals seeking accreditation need to meet or exceed industry standards, including providing rapid diagnoses. The Oncology Roundtable reported that at some centers the time from screening mammogram to surgery is as long as 21 days. In keeping with the government’s HITECH emphasis on enhancing the efficiency of patient health care, earlier diagnosis and characterization of disease helps to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Thus, this innovative planning of centers of excellence will allow hospitals to provide same-day follow-up from screening to diagnostic mammogram, then on to biopsy with diagnosis.

The increasing competition among hospitals and the growing importance of hospital accreditation will boost the demand for new EMR and EHR software applications tied to HITECH criteria. Already, ePrescribing is delivering better patient care with greater efficiency; additional innovative software applications are sure to follow.

by Barbara Goodheart

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