BoneStation: The Software Tool for Bone Densitometry

BoneStation automates the preparation, interpretation, creation, distribution and storage of bone density reports using DXA technology. A web-based interface streamlines the review process for bone density practitioners into a single, secure, interconnected system that processes reports in 1/3 of the time. BoneStation enables practices to provide more accurate bone health assessments and increase revenue without adding administrative staff, transcription services or additional practitioners – directly improving quality of care and profit margins.

Electronic Health Records in Practice

Administrators of today’s medical practices are facing rapid changes in the management of patient health information as advances in technology occur and government initiatives influence the direction of healthcare information systems. Understanding the evolving terminology and concepts used to describe this vast array of technology is fast becoming a pivotal part of the needs of a medical practice. Here is a look at some of the key concepts.

A Document Management System (DMS) is an early form of a record management system. A DMD is a system used to track and store electronic documents or images of paper documents in a physician’s office. It does not generally assume the interconnectivity capabilities of an electronic medical records system, although more recent systems offer the option of an integrated platform. Examples include voice recognition software, a desktop database, or a template-driven document production system.

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) offers increasing sophistication over a document management system. An EMR is the creation of a medical document within a physician’s office with the added capability of the import of information from a variety of external sources such as laboratories, radiology centers and pharmacies. Often, this record can also be exported to offices outside the physician’s practice, including the patient, pharmacist, referring physician or specialist. An electronic medical record usually offers full interoperability within an enterprise.

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a more universal health care record than an EMR and it’s management is not centralized by one physician, but rather contains a longitudinal record of a patient’s health from multiple health care offices. For example, the content of an EHR may come from a primary care physician, a bone density practitioner, a laboratory, a pharmacy and an insurance carrier. Each of these sources of information can both receive and give new information. Since the information flow of an EHR is “bi-directional” (giving and receiving) and the content includes the total experiences of the patient, it is distinguishable from an EMR. The EHR also supports the collection of data for uses “other than clinical care, such as billing, quality management, outcomes reporting, and public health surveillance and reporting”. (HIMSS, 2002)

A Continuity of Care Record (CCR) is an electronic health record that meets certain standards of portability and data exchange. ASTM International, the Massachusetts Medical Society, HIMSS, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and health informatics vendors jointly developed the standards describing a CCR. The goal was to create a CCR that will enable each healthcare provider to access and transport historical health information in order to support the safety, quality, and continuity of patient care. The CCR may be used as a vehicle to exchange clinical information among providers, institutions, or other entities. Because the CCR is an XML standard document, it will be both machine and human readable, and the data content may be displayed or printed in a variety of formats, including by web browser, PDF reader, and word processor.

Benefits of the CCR

The CCR is expected to have a significant impact on the quality of care by reducing medical errors and limiting costs:

  • A healthcare provider will not have to search for or guess about a patient’s allergies, medications, or current and recent past treatments.
  • A healthcare provider will be informed about the patient’s most recent healthcare assessment and services.
  • Patient demographic information can be quickly and easily verified.
  • A patient’s insurance status will be more easily identified and established.
  • Costs associated with the patient’s care may be reduced, such as avoiding redundant tests.
  • The effort required to update the patient’s essential information will be minimized.

Investing in Healthcare Technology

A successful software investment should noticeably enrich a medical practice. Improvements can include a decrease in work time, a decrease in the costs of certain resources, a reduction in data errors, a minimization of losses of healthcare information, HIPAA compliance and an increase in employee job satisfaction. The ultimate benefit of a new system can be measured as either tangible or intangible but whichever is most important to an organization, it is important for the buyer to know the specific returns before a purchase agreement is signed.

One of the first things to look for when acquiring a new technology is the reduction in time for performing a particular routine task. For example, the average time to review a patient exam with Cardea Technology’s BoneStation is approximately two thirds shorter than without using an automated review function. In a bone density office where the average patient visit volume is high – approximately 6600 exams per year – a practice gains more than an hour and a half per day when using BoneStation to review patient exams.

A second benefit to look for is a decrease in the costs of tangible resources, an important result of the change to electronic data management. Some of these reductions include elimination of printing costs for paper copies of reports for practices that use email and electronic report transmission, an increase in the life and availability of printing resources and a reduction in the cost of envelopes and postage to mail reports to recipients. Additionally the physical storage space for filing cabinets is reduced and the time needed to pull patient medical charts is eliminated. For high volume practices, the savings add up to more than $20/day when 100% of reports are distributed electronically.

An inevitable factor of acquiring new technology is a reduction in the number of specialists needed to perform routine tasks. For example, a reporting solution like BoneStation replaces the need for an outsourced specialist to transcribe patient reports. This savings can amount to anywhere from $20K to $60K per year, depending on the length of dictated reports and the type of service used. Eliminating the need to locate and re-file patient charts provides more time for other tasks.

A last tangible benefit is the decrease in data errors that reduces the time and cost of resolving medical errors and possible malpractice claims. The Institute of Medicine estimates that medical errors cost the United States approximately $37.6 billion each year and about $17 billion of those costs are associated with preventable errors. A decrease in costs due to data loss can amount to thousands of dollars each year. BoneStation’s data is saved and backed up on a secure server regularly, greatly reducing the risk of lost data typically stored on CDs and other degradable, non-stationary media.

In addition to purely financial returns, there are also several intangible, yet important benefits to keep in mind when deciding to purchase a new technology. Due to better availability of patient health information, physicians and practices are able to make better decisions about patient health care. Increased staff morale is created from using state of the art tools that make it easier to do their jobs. Physicians gain greater autonomy by being able to work remotely. Faster production and delivery of exam results to recipients facilitates faster turnaround time for reimbursement and the commencement of medical treatment. Conveniently organized access to patient reports may also result in a reduction of unpaid Medicare and Medicaid claims.