Navigating Audiology Health IT and Patient Data Integration
AudiologyOnline: Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an ongoing initiative in the healthcare landscape today. What is Otobase® and how does it help practices meet audiology health IT needs?
Lance Brown: The Otobase® EMR connector by Otometrics is designed to bring audiology into the EMR/EHR. We discussed this in detail in one of our past interviews EMR Connectivity Made Easy. Otobase integrates audiology patient data electronically with commonly used systems like EPIC, AllScripts and AllMeds. It works seamlessly with the Noah database or as a standalone database with Otosuite®.
Kathleen Hill: That’s the beauty of Otobase―it works with software platforms clinics may already use. Because Otobase is Noah-compatible, it can support patient data management for all major audiology equipment and systems. Otobase is actually the only EMR solution today that can connect your complete audiology workflow to EMR―allowing you to access and manage test data seamlessly for otoscopy, audiometry, OAE, tympanometry, PMM and beyond. When all systems work together like that, you can really save time and streamline your workflow.
Mona Dworsack: Otobase EMR integration automates record-keeping so you and your staff can manage audiology patient data from one easy-to-use application. Integration can increase productivity and save valuable clinician time while minimizing room for data errors and reducing manual processes. Less time spent on administrative work―like printing, scanning and uploading PDF documents―means audiologists have more time to spend with patients.
Lance: If an audiology clinic is part of a group or health care system, Otobase is a simple and secure way to connect to EMR/EHR. Implementing Otobase EMR will allow managers and users to access audiology patient data across multiple locations or specialties—including audiology/ENT, pediatrics, newborn care, neurology, balance, and physical therapy clinics.
AudiologyOnline: Otobase has been utilized as an EMR solution for hospital-based clinics. But what about patient data integration for independent practices, specifically audiology/ENT clinics that are not part of a health care system?
Lance: EMR is just the tip of the iceberg. There many ways to integrate multiple equipment within a clinic, or multiple clinics. The level of integration is dependent on how connected you want to be. This graphic illustrates four ways Otometrics can assist audiology practices today:
Kathleen: Otosuite integration is ideal for a practice that would like to transition to a PC-based workflow. The modular setup provides a flexible way to invest in equipment now, and add on more equipment as the clinic’s hearing services grow. Otosuite provides a single user interface for diagnostic and fitting. We discussed this in one of our past interviews with AudiologyOnline, Otosuite and the Audiology Practice.
Most Madsen® and Aurical® equipment run on Otosuite so current users can manage all tests using one interface for otoscopy, audiometry, OAE, tympanometry, PMM and beyond. Users can also print a consolidated Otosuite report for the full appointment, and this is a great tool for counseling; or documentation to refer the patient to an ENT for further testing.
Mona: For clinics that simply need an all-in-one solution for multiple tests, there are more options to consider. Our next generation Bio-logic® products are PC-independent, handheld and transportable―you can take your equipment to the patient or to remote locations. Modular configuration for some or all screening and diagnostic tests―ABR, OAE, tympanometry and audiometry―allow you to do as little or as much as you need using one single device.
The ability to combine multiple test results in one device streamlines data collection and simplifies the clinician’s workflow. All patient test data can be presented to the patient in one PDF or print report. Bio-logic is an ideal solution for audiology, ENT or pediatric clinics; and audiologists on-the-go.
Bio-logic can operate as a standalone device, however, it is also Noah-compatible so it provides a flexible solution for centralizing the results and preparing for EMR integration.
AudiologyOnline: An EMR integration project will involve more than audiology. Can you describe the depth of assistance available to audiology throughout the implementation process?
Lance: Yes, we know the transition is a complex process involving multiple departments, such as IT, biomed or the clinical technician. Rest assured, an Otometrics representative will be available to support the transition to EMR. Our Software Integration Group (SIG) was developed to address the needs of practices with integrated PC-based instrumentation and multiple locations.
AudiologyOnline: It is not uncommon for a practice to have a mix of equipment from different manufacturers. Is Otobase compatibility limited to Otometrics equipment?
Lance: No, Otobase can support all brands of equipment within a clinic. Whether you have Otosuite or utilize another user interface, Otobase can be tailor-made to integrate all types of audiology equipment in a clinic. For example, Otobase can connect a Madsen Astera2 audiometer or Aurical PMM to other OAE equipment you already have in your current test battery. Our Software Integration Group will utilize Noah or Otobase to connect any brand of equipment that is part of your hearing care workflow.
AudiologyOnline: For Audiology Managers, who are ready to make the transition to EMR, what the first step to start an Implementation Project?
Lance: The first step is to find out the level of integration that a clinic truly needs through a one-on-one consultation. The Audiology and/or IT Manager is encouraged to fill out a 5-minute EMR Assessment Survey to ensure we fully understand their systems and unique needs before we start the consultation.
Together with your local Otometrics rep, we will look into your integration needs and ways to maximize your budget. SIG-certified specialists will work with both audiology and IT managers throughout the integration project to ensure that your clinical, operational and financial needs are satisfied.
AudiologyOnline: Using an EMR-ready platform like Otobase is new to some audiologists. How would you describe the learning curve for new users?
Lance: Adapting to Otobase is easier than you would think. It was purposely designed to look and feel like Noah. Its familiar interface ensures your audiology staff maintains focus on patient care—instead of learning the new program. Audiologists who use Noah, can use Otobase.
Mona: In addition to the familiar Noah-like interface, Otobase can be customized to suit individual user needs or we can implement standardized protocols across larger organizations.
Kathleen: In depth training and learning resources will be provided for new users. Our AudiologyOnline course Go Paperless! Bridging the Gap Between Audiology and Electronic Medical Records will go over some basic EMR/EHR terminologies. More information is available on the Otobase webpage for both audiology and IT professionals.