Hospitals and clinics throughout the United States are using electronic health records (EHR) to improve their patient care and operational efficiency.
With EHR, clinicians can view the patient’s entire medical history from immunization information, allergies, medication and radiology images to planned treatment and lab tests. Because EHR is digital, it can also readily be shared between different healthcare providers and kept up-to-date in terms of the services the patient is receiving from multiple sources.
However, while EHR has its advantages, many hospitals and clinics using EHR are reporting of EHR-related problems. These include errors in the information, slow loading speeds, unreliable connectivity to hosting providers and additional work for clinicians. Moreover, as the information is now digital, it is at risk of cyber attacks and data breaches.
Overall, these inefficiencies put healthcare providers at risk of not generating enough return on investment (ROI) from their EHR expenditure. In addition, with clinicians being distracted and/or exhausted by EHR issues, providers are also at risk of neglecting the needs of their patients.
If your hospital or clinic is being plagued by EHR-related inefficiencies, risks and staff problems, then it’s time to consider optimizing your EHR system.
What are the Goals of EHR Optimization?
Whether it’s a result of a flawed EHR implementation at the start or increasing obsolescence in early generation EHR systems, you are likely dealing with EHR-induced inefficiencies. The main goal of EHR optimization is to remove those efficiencies.
Specific outcomes can include improving the loading speed and reliability of your EHR access, easing the learning curve, and, not least, improving cybersecurity to protect patient data and ensure compliance with regulatory standards such as HIPAA.
Enhance Patient Care/Spend More Time Providing Care
One of the biggest challenges with EHR is the difficulty some hospital/clinic staff have with using their system. Be it due to insufficient training, information overload and/or complex user controls, clinicians believe they are spending too much time on EHR issues and not enough on patients.
EHR optimization also prioritizes training. According to Deloitte, “one-on-one training on EHRs can optimize use, improve physicians’ efficiency, and increase their well-being.” To improve the acclimation process, some organizations are providing their clinicians with “care management, analytics, and need-based coaching” (Deloitte).
Take Staff Input into Account
The efficiency gained from better training clinicians can readily be passed onto your patients via better medical care. However, to achieve your intended efficiency gains, you must take the input of your physicians, nurses and other staff into account.
After all, your staff are your EHR system’s primary users.
In its 2018 survey of physicians in the United States, Deloitte found that only 34% of them were asked for feedback by their organization or the EHR vendor on EHR optimization.
When physicians are asked for feedback, it’s clear that their priorities lie in the following areas: making the input of patient information easier; expand interoperability; view patient information on mobile devices; generate custom reports about their patients; automate reporting; and also improve their workflow. See the chart below for additional details:
You can improve the performance of your EHR system — e.g., loading speed — through an EHR optimization program. Your have multiple options: you could replace the computers driving your EHR system, improve internet connectivity, replacing old networking hardware (such as routers) and/or move your EHR data to a secure private or public cloud hosting provider.
Regarding the cloud, you could also take a hybrid cloud approach by combining your in-house server infrastructure with that of an external cloud provider. You can host your most sensitive data internally, but off-load email, messaging, some productivity applications, etc to the cloud.
Doing so will take-off some of the stress on your internal system (thus freeing resources and improving EHR performance). Alternatively, migrating all of your EHR data to the cloud would free you from future capital expenditure (CAPEX) on new on-premise server infrastructure.
See How We Cut $364,000 in IT Costs and Eliminated EHR Crashes
By giving your clinicians more training and improving the performance of your EHR system, your healthcare organization will generate efficiency gains. Be it the time saved from fewer technical hiccups to reduced stress and increased focus, your organization will operate better.
Your physicians will have more time to treat patients, processes will move quicker and check-in and check-out times will decrease. In addition, by improving training and EHR performance, you will also reduce the risk of user errors when updating patient information.
To implement EHR optimization correctly, you need to correctly diagnose your EHR problems. This requires the support of a proven managed IT service provider (MSP) with a specialization in healthcare IT. You need a partner who understands EHR implementation and the unique needs of healthcare organizations such as yours, especially in terms of workflows and compliance.
Contact us to schedule an audit of your IT systems and charter your EHR optimization plan.