by Olga Deshchenko
, DOTmed News Reporter | June 21, 2011
This report originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of DOTmed Business News
In the transition to electronic medical records, providers aren’t the only ones who need to deal with changes -- equipment manufacturers must also reconfigure their offerings to meet the new requirements for their customers.
And stress test systems are no exception. Since the advent of EMRs, there has been a bigger focus on information retrieval and sharing that’s fast and easy.
Currently, a major challenge in the stress test industry is workflow and connectivity to an EMR, says Michael Moore, vice president of sales with Nasiff Associates.
According to Moore, analogue systems are being phased out in favor of PC-based systems in today’s test market but many physicians are yet to catch up with the latest PC-based units. For customers who have older diagnostic systems, the transition to a paperless system can be an expensive process.
For manufacturers to offer providers a system that best fits their evolving needs, companies must work with EMR vendors, which is not always easy. “There are approximately 250 different EMR companies and there is no standard in the industry in which one device will communicate with a software company,” says Moore.
[Insurer that denied stress tests violated state law - read about it here]
When it comes to connecting a stress test unit to an EMR, Moore says customers have two options: interface and compatibility. “The interface will save a couple of clicks and generally comes with an annual fee to the customer from an EMR company,” he explains.
On the other hand, the compatibility option has no annual fee and requires no integration with the EMR vendor – it seamlessly runs parallel to the electronic health record. (The Nasiff CardioCard software is compatible with 98 percent of the EMR companies, according to Moore.)
If working and coordinating with numerous EMR vendors wasn’t challenging enough, stress test equipment companies must also function in a realm that lacks a waveforms standard. Test results can widely vary in file formats, including XML, JPEG, PDF and TIFF.
Although there is an ongoing effort to standardize an HL7 format across the industry, Moore doesn’t anticipate it will happen for several years. For now, manufacturers are focused on ensuring EMR connectivity, without the burden of additional costs for providers.
And the emphasis on improving the workflow in light of EMRs, says Moore, has created a shift in the industry. Manufacturers are not only providing stress test products but broader, customized solutions for their customers.