Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update January 2011

Has it really been two months?

A lot has happened since then. OSCAR development has been going full tilt all along. The waiting time has been due to the fact that it was decided to do a whole new rewrite for how Labs are inserted into OSCAR. Alberta's version is going to do this properly by taking the "flat" HL7 file (version 3) and then inserting relevant lab information into each patient's chart.

This is better than a more common method of having OSCAR scan a large flat file of lab values and then populating your screen view with those values. Took a little more fussing, but it should all be done next week. Finally.

The billing program is also going well. It is going to be much more robust than billing modules seen in other provinces - especially the private billing module. Private billing is now what pretty much keeps many Medical Practices viable, as Government pay for Medical Services is keeping less and less pace with the real world costs of running a Medical Practice.

As it turns out - many Physicians with robust private billing activities are staying in business (and able to see patients under Alberta Health) while Physicians that do not participate in this sort of thing are increasingly going out of business.

People might get their backs up over this issue and march around in "protest" to defend health care. I applaud these people and wish them well. But when they accidentally "protest march" into the path of a fast moving bus....I will be there for them in my office and by their hospital bed because my private billing activities have kept me from moving to the U.S. when insured Physician income in Alberta is failing to keep pace with escalating office costs.

So where are we? We are on the cusp of having hopefully three more clinics in Calgary adopt OSCAR before spring. These are all new installs - although my OSCAR support person has a decent amount of experience in converting Wolf to OSCAR. A 4th clinic is considering adopting OSCAR because of the exorbitant costs associated with upgrading Wolf - and the increasing challenges they are facing with the administration of their POSP funding.

I hear frustrations with the POSP funding, increasingly in recent months. Hopefully OSCAR will eliminate this by making POSP funding unnecessary (as well as the mountains of paperwork that seems to be attached to getting the funding). OSCAR costs so little, that POSP funding is essentially unnecessary.

I have asked the AMA to take an interest in OSCAR and to consider supporting it. Didn't go very far. They are sticking to their guns in an admirable demonstration of loyalty to their three "supported vendors". This is probably a good thing, but it is inevitable that OSCAR will take over in Alberta - and I trust that the AMA will eventually catch on.

So...hopefully I will be able to blog by the end of February that my billing and labs module for OSCAR is working beautifully. By then, the ipad2 should be out and it should be able to print prescriptions.

In the mean time, I am going to make some swanky new e-forms for Calgary Docs that I plan to give away to any and all who want them.