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HIMSS Analytics Introduces Ambulatory Health IT Framework

June 11, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The Chicago-based research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), HIMSS Analytics is set to track the IT adoption in more than 28,000 ambulatory facilities. The facilities, which will be tracked in the HIMSS Analytics database, will be those that are part of a hospital or hospital system, such as physician practices, clinics, outpatient centers, and specialty clinics.

The new framework, the Ambulatory EMR Adoption Model (A-EMRAM), came from a recognition by HIMSS Analytics for a need for this evaluation tool, since more than 26 percent of healthcare expenditures relate to ambulatory care, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). “We want to identify the vital health IT systems, and best practices around the use of those systems, while at the same time, provide industry research to help guide ambulatory facilities as they strive to adopt health IT systems that improve outcomes and patient convenience,” says John P. Hoyt, vice president of HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement.

HIMSS Analytics got guidance from software and healthcare providers reviewed the A-EMRAM during its development. This, HIMSS Analytics says, established realistic and achievable metrics for each stage.  Just as with hospitals, HIMSS Analytics will conduct an on-site visit of ambulatory facilities to verify the Stage 7 ranking.  

The A-EMRAM will aim to offer a framework for dialogue on IT implementation not only in the United States, but also, in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, where HIMSS Analytics will use this tool. “We want to ‘push the market’ because we believe ambulatory facilities should be able to reach Stage 7 with the health IT software now available in the marketplace. However, we also know it will take some time for these same facilities to achieve this level of sophistication, which requires participation in a health information exchange, use of a community medical record and analysis and application of clinical and business intelligence to help improve patient care,” Hoyt says.

HIMSS Analytics says the framework can be adapted to include independent physician practices and other un-tethered ambulatory sites.  As the current data on the A-EMRAM indicates, of the 9,247 ambulatory facilities now reporting data in the HIMSS Analytics database, none is at Stage 7 and 1.2 percent rank at Stage 6.  

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