Why Clinical Groupware May Be the Next Big Thing in Health IT

By David Kibbe
09:44 AM


According to the bill, a physician becomes eligible for significant federal funding by using qualified technology to: 1) perform e-Prescribing; 2) carry out "the electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of care, such as promoting care coordination," and; 3) report on clinical quality measures in the form and manner specified by the Secretary of HHS.

Furthermore, the bill states that:
"The term ‘qualified electronic health record’ means an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that  (A) includes patient demographic and clinical health information, such as medical history and problem lists; and
 (B) has the capacity to provide clinical decision support; support physician order entry;
 capture and query information relevant to health care quality; and
 to exchange electronic health information with, and integrate such information from other sources.


These requirements open the door to health IT implementation in provider organizations that is less expensive and easier to use than today's EHRs.

Clinical Groupware like that offered by Shared Health and RMDNetworks both provide "meaningful use" of a "qualified EHR" under the Bill, at least as I understand it. 

At the same time as this new term comes into fashion, I think that the electronic health record, or EHR, will begin to fade. It is already losing its utility, burdened by several different meanings and definitions that confuse almost everyone.

For example, EHR means to some people a suite of software used by doctors to replace paper records, as in those products that are certified by CCHIT according to features and functions. To others, an EHR is a collection of data about an individual, a digital file or files.

And to some, it means both.

 But the real issue isn't about confusing old names or catchy new ones.  The real issue is the choices that will be made by the 75 percent of physicians who don't use EHRs yet.

Clinical GroupWare will appeal to these physicians, medical practices, hospitals, and provider organizations who have hesitated from purchasing the high priced comprehensive EHR database management systems on the market; who don't require all the features and functions that these systems offer (and don't want to pay for un-used functionality); and who wish to implement quickly and with as little interruption to clinical workflows as possible.

Because Clinical GroupWare is web-based and can be used with any of the popular browser programs, such as Internet Explorer and Firefox, the viewer interface is already familiar and does not require extensive user orientation or training. 

Clinical GroupWare integrates some of the most common features of office software used in work outside of health care and in the home -- such as e-mail, scheduling, data/table display, and forms completion -- rather than retaining complex multi-click document constructions that are proprietary and customized.


This blog originally appeared at The Health Care Blog.

More recent posts from The Health Care Blog:

Stimulus bill offers docs big incentives for technology, but demands effective use

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The AMA Wins a Round Against Accountability and Patient Information

Daschle out at HHS - Sharfstein in at FDA?

The Case for Ron Wyden


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