Meeting with Dr. Rowley of Practice Fusion – Free EMR

CMIO Magazine: Tell me a little bit about your background and about Practice Fusion

Dr. Rowley:  I began practicing medicine in the 70’s as a family practitioner in a group practice in the Bay area.  I became active with regional IPAs and got exposure to the managed care side of the business.  I also became very interested in learning about technology and informatics in the 80s.  I was your typical physician who dictated my notes and had an assistant transcribe and file them in paper charts.   Similar probably to so many practices at the time, using paper charts was very cumbersome; I wouldn’t have information accessible to me on patients at the right time, or the information was incomplete.  That was the pivotal point for me so I decided to develop my own EMR system.  I spent a good amount of my time in the 90s developing a robust and easy to use EMR system, which was then acquired by Practice Fusion where I am the CMO. Our solution focuses on workflows and we now have over 150 templates for different specialties.   We provide free EMR solutions to small practices.  We’ve had great success so far and we’re growing at the rate of 100 providers per day. 

 CMIO Magazine:  What key clinical projects are you working on?

Dr. Rowley: The top three clinical projects would have to be: regulatory issues, making sure we’re on track to get our EMR software certified to meet the “meaningful use” criteria, and ARRA.   I work closely with engineering to enhance our software, address outstanding issues, and to make sure we have developed a path to getting our EMR certified while maintaining our client base without major interruptions.  I also get involved with the business side, such as assisting with RFPs and some business development initiatives. 

CMIO Magazine:  What Practice Fusion products or services should hospitals and other providers know about but probably don’t?

Dr. Rowley:  Our EMR product is geared for ambulatory practices.  Our web-hosted solution can be accessed from any internet-enabled device (except PDAs such as iPhone, which is not flash-based).  Whether an IBM device or Macintosh, so long as there is internet connectivity, the end user is empowered to view and document on patient charts.  We have taken steps to establish a safe and secure infrastructure; probably better than a typical system in a hospital environment.  We are much more focused on data security and adhering to HIPAA security standards. In addition to registration, scheduling, and the EMR, our software is capable of e-prescribing and of course it’s free for our clients to use!  

We have developed what we call Smart Templates to address Specialties and their unique workflows.  The data is owned by the clinic but we’re the custodians of the data. 

CMIO Magazine:  How has Practice Fusion solutions made a difference in patient experience?

Dr. Rowley: I think the patient experience is two-fold in that  the physician is armed with good and complete data at the point of care; this is a significant paradigm shift from traditional processes.  The patients notice how well the provider is prepared by focusing on the condition rather than asking repeated questions around past medical history of the patient because they couldn’t find it in a traditional paper chart environment.  The second impact is that with the patient portal  we have developed and continue to enhance (the Personal Health Record is called Patient Fusion, and is linked to the Practice Fusion EHR), patients will be able to have control over their medical record by having access to it, will be able to schedule their own appointments, and even to communicate with the care provider.

CMIO Magazine: Bad economic conditions are sure to hit healthcare providers hard with more uncompensated care and tougher lending markets. When IT costs come under the microscope, how can technology, including that provided by Practice Fusion, prove that it’s paying its way?

Dr. Rowley:   We have made the use of our EMR virtually dummy proof and at a fraction of a cost of the other vendors.  The implementation takes days and hours, not months.  We have removed the burden of having practices hire technical folks to implement and support the system.  The practice needs to invest in some equipment (i.e. PCs or Laptops) in their offices and exam rooms but that’s a fraction  of the overall cost of ownership.

 CMIO Magazine: Any closing remarks?

Dr. Rowley:  If an organization has a list of their patients we can upload them into the system, so on day 1, the system has some of their own data.  We integrate with billing systems and have been successful in the HL7 integration and bridging that gap.

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