Atlas Blog Q&A: ICD codes, HL7 Feeds, and New Patient Forms

I wanted to share our follow-up with a doctor who recently wrote into us asking about direct care. Here’s her query:

Dr Josh,

Thanks again for speaking to me a couple of weeks ago about DPC. It was very helpful. I will be using your EMR program in my practice. Was wondering if the ICD codes are generated /accessible by/from your EMR?? Also, I was advised by the local lab I will be using to ask you if your EMR has a “HL7 feed” for importing lab results. One last thing, could we see what forms you are using in your new patient information packet? I have created my own from basic forms I have used in the past but was interested in seeing what you use. Thanks again for all your help and being a champion for the DPC movement. Wish you much continued success!

[name omitted]

These are fantastic questions. I’ll address them one at a time.

1.) Are ICD codes are generated/accessible by/from your EMR?
As a matter of fact, does allow you to enter and search through ICD-9 codes. But the purpose is not for Medicare or insurance billing. Instead, it’s to help track diagnoses and adhere to standardized naming conventions. Technically, they aren’t something we rely on when practicing direct care. But having access to the ICD-9 codes through will help you, for one, translate/update prior medical records. It’s also a nice gesture for future doctors who might later reference the patients’ EMRs, while working within the insurance system.

2.) Does EMR have an “HL7 feed” for importing lab results?
I’m going to come out and say it: HL7 is riddled with healthcare tech speak spelling out the end of a productive day, like a conversation with that pretentious post-doctoral candidate who only talks in 7-syllable words, where afterwards you want to pull your hair out, quit your job, burn your $200k med school diploma, move to a far off island, and become a bartender for suburbanite vacationers. So, being as we wanted to KEEP you in the industry, and HELP you practice better medicine, we translated the HL7 feed into something that you can read without furrowing your brows. And while we’re talking labs, we like to remind everyone considering the software that it will utilize Quest Diagnostics for tests and panels. If you haven’t already, head over and submit a request to use as your EMR interface. The site makes it easy to complete the form and should no more than two minutes. You will need to provide a few numbers, like your practice ID, though. If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this post, or email us at hello[at]

3.) Could we see what forms you are using in your new patient information packet?
Let’s call this one a compromise. We’re in talks to figure out if there’s enough interest in being able to create a customizable New Patient form online. Doctors can use a tool to create a template, and then print them for in-office use. The issue here is that each practice/specialist will need its own form. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. So, if you would be interested in something like this, to help you on the admin/paperwork side, tell us. We’re here to help.

There you have it. Oh, one last thing. Dr. Doug and I are sitting down to tape a weekly podcast. You can stream all episodes for free on iTunes. We review issues that come up frequently, offer advice on starting a clinic, and share stories from the office.

Thanks for your support and participation in direct care!!

Dr. Josh