Any healthcare provider can tell you about the painstaking process of selecting, implementing, adopting, and maintaining an EHR system. Equal to the financial investment, the process involves major resources both in time and personnel. EHR technologies sell on the promise of making healthcare jobs and practices more efficient and effective, yet the reality of the output for many has been far from ideal.
Despite the investment, many healthcare providers report that their EHR implementations have caused more headaches than anything else. That response should come as no surprise when considering the complexity of most EHR systems. Coupled with the fact that many EHR software companies sell systems as ‘easy to setup off the shelf solutions,’ it is easy to see why there is so much dissatisfaction with the one size fits all technology.
These are not new problems; many providers implemented their EHR systems years and years ago. Some struggle on, fighting against a system that was supposed to help them; others are constantly looking for a new system that better fits their organization. However, EHR issues typically stem from poor optimization rather than the system itself. EHR optimization might not solve every problem but prioritizing the series of changes can help alleviate the immediate pain points causing the most inefficiencies.
The first rudimentary EHR system deployed more than 60 years ago, and since then healthcare providers have been working with--and against--their EHR systems. The way these systems cause problems might not even be immediately apparent, like a chronic pain that a person becomes accustomed to with a high-tolerance threshold.
Administrators might detect the symptoms of poorly implemented EHR systems or be tasked with evaluating alternative systems to better suit the practice’s needs. Going on this journey alone is tough and can be overwhelming. Upfront costs, implementation, training – the investment adds up quickly. Plus, there is no guarantee that personnel will adopt a new system quickly. Of course, if an existing EHR system is failing across the board, a full upgrade and overhaul, while dramatic, is not out of the question.
Another sign involves lack of utilization. Personnel ignoring the process and resorting to external tools, such as spreadsheets, to record information is one example. Even if someone eventually transfers the information into the EHR system, this extra step creates a point of failure. If the original information is incorrectly or incompletely recorded, time is wasted, and a door is opened for potential compliance problems in the future.
Opposed to a full overhaul, the benefit of EHR optimization program allows healthcare providers the opportunity to get more value out of an investment they have already made. Personnel are empowered and the healthcare practice functions more smoothly. Optimization also avoids the unnecessarily excessive costs of switching to a different EHR system without completely changing the tools that exist in the process today.
There are numerous ways to optimize EHR systems, depending on the system and situation. How a company ultimately decides to optimize their EHR will be influenced by requirements, priority issue resolution, and time. The four most common optimizations we see include:
Healthcare practices tend to experience siloed, disconnected systems throughout the organization. While these systems make sense individually, such as an accounting system, check-in system, and EHR system, the separation leads to redundant functionalities and results in process inefficiency.
A custom integration can bring patient data sources together and provide a clearer, more accurate picture of what is going on with each individual patient. Functionalities such as time tracking and/or financial management work together as one, and can allow visibility into more predictive analytics, such as for staffing purposes.
Another way to optimize EHRs is to streamline internal and external reporting. Better internal reporting provides improved, actionable, and operational insights, so healthcare teams can see information related to what an ideal nurse-to-patient ratio needs to be or to account for a higher patient acuity on certain days.
On the other hand, improved external reporting offers the benefit of bill tracking or reporting to CMS on quality measures. Some reporting can be automated to cut down on costs and to gain a wealth of information without tying up vital staff resources.
Intelligent automation brings together robotic process automation (RPA) with high-tech methods like AI and analytics, transforming data into actionable business insights and identifying areas of improvement within current processes.
There is so much that Intelligent Automation can do for both the provider and patient:
Upgraded patient portal integration is another possibility with EHR optimization. Providing a better user experience, patients enjoy autonomy for handing tasks such as making appointments, accessing lab results, paying a bill online and setting up appointment reminders.
Providing an easy, self-service experience no doubt aids in patient retention by reducing frustrations and creating smoother processes. Capabilities like reminders for appointments and online bill pay can help your practice’s cash flow, reducing administrative work and focusing more on patient care.
Patient Portals, Reporting, and AI are some ways that EHR systems can be optimized. Like with any technology systems planning, understanding the pain points and requirements is the first step to assessing which route to take. EHR systems offering the one-size-fits-all solution tend to be fairly basic and typically do not meet the needs of the healthcare team out of the box. The good news there are exerts who help you to optimize and customize systems the right way from the start to avoid problems that disconnected, siloed systems end up creating.
Hoverstate’s process to determine EHR optimization begins by listening to the client’s current problems, followed by an evaluation of the current technology. A clear understanding of the current system and processes allow us to make recommendations on a range of optimization choices, including if an entirely new EHR system is warranted.
Budget and requirements are always at top of mind when determining which optimizations will have the most impact. We offer the best-case timeline rooted client priorities which establishes the right expectations upfront.
We believe a good EHR system needs to empower the people who use it. If you are not getting the most out of your system, now is the time to talk with your administrators, assess the weakness and explore which system optimizations could help your practice change for the better.