Mark Binstock MD is the Associate Medical Information Officer for Mercy Health Systems. Dr. Binstock is a doctor with so many degrees and certifications that his work in the challenging area of Medical Informatics- an area that bridges clinical medicine with population health and payer-focused documentation- seems a natural fit. Even before specializing in OB/GYN, Dr. Binstock received a master’s degree in Public Health while obtaining his MD degree. Two years ago, he also became board certified in Medical Informatics, a specialty that entails its own course work, training and certification, including requirements for MOC.
A board-certified OB/GYN who was a department chair with a busy clinical schedule, Mark Binstock started to take on more responsibility in the emerging area of Medical Informatics. Initially working on the EPIC platform, he wanted to look at electronic medical records in a more academic way and to be able to incorporate his interest in population health. He completed a fellowship and took online courses for over 3 years, taking only 1 course per quarter because he was still running a department and taking care of patients as an OB/GYN. As he found his level of responsibility in the area of electronic medical records increasing, he decided that the pace of dividing his time and energy between clinical practice and Medical Informatics was not the right long term plan.
Now he has a full time position as the Associate Medical Information Officer with Mercy Health. He is certified as a builder in EPIC, but explains that a clinician’s time is better utilized in areas outside of coding. He specifically works with functionality, decision-making and population health as well as teaching clinical practices to optimize newly implemented EMR.
Medical Informatics is a subspecialty that requires course work and certification, as well as a prerequisite board certification in a specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Dr. Binstock views EMR as enabling organizations to close gaps in deficiencies in public health. He describes the data that is made available through EMR as a ‘bonanza.’
But, he definitely recognizes that clinicians have been largely ignored in the EMR experience- and not just because he was a busy clinician himself. His wife is a practicing internist, and therefore, she is the end user of everything he does. Dr. Binstock says that his wife has an ability to spot flaws in the system and is the ultimate user acceptance tester. He understands that the system was built to for payers, for the government, for meaningful use, for ICD-10, and for payment reform as well as to serve the many other hands in the pie of healthcare. He points out that the clinician is notably missing on that list of valued clients of EMR, and now there is a backlash. When asked his opinion about whether flaws in the EMR doctor experience will improve, he doesn’t pretend that it is easy or that it will happen overnight. He predicts that change in the area of Medical Informatics is most likely in the areas of bundled payments and commercial exchanges that will alter the premise of the billing side. He describes fixing flaws in the system as a huge undertaking largely due to the complexities of coding and the variation in medical specialties and he does not anticipate an ‘wow’ to the user experience. Perhaps because he is a physician himself and because he is married to a practicing physician, he is especially discerning and insightful about the nuances of the demands of EMR and how complex it is to resolve the varied demands.
Often traveling throughout Ohio and Kentucky for his work, Dr. Binstock believes that Medical Informatics has the potential to alter the future of population health through the data obtained. He explains that the effects of EMR could be significant in terms of the early detection of disease trends and overall disease prevention, an outcome that ultimately helps large groups of people.
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