Many offices have EHR Optimization at the top of their ‘to do’ list for 2019. But it can be challenging to figure out where to begin. The month of January has flown by and many providers are still struggling to navigate through their EHR systems and get them up-to- date for the new year. EHR systems are a major source of stress for physicians and office staff, which can negatively impact patient care, personal well-being, and overall job satisfaction.
While individual practices struggle to integrate and optimize their EHR systems, there is also a growing recognition of the systemic problems in the development of EHR systems. Some leaders in the healthcare industry are demanding that EHR vendors gain more knowledge of the healthcare delivery system and how it works before they build new products or create enhancements to existing systems. There are a few ways they can do this.
Some providers are suggesting that the engineers and programmers who build the EHR systems should spend time onsite observing a typical work day in a hospital or physician practice so they can better understand workflows. Meanwhile, some EHR vendors are incorporating physicians into their development process by creating advisory groups or hiring physicians to engage in design discussions.
Regardless of the approach, we can only hope that by improving communication and collaboration between the people designing the EHR systems and the people using them, we will eventually experience better outcomes. In the meantime, the average practice still must deal with the daily challenges and frustrations of an EHR system that doesn’t quite seem to fit.
Even if you are not able to interface directly with EHR system engineers and programmers, here are six ways that your practice can start to improve its EHR functionality.
6 Ways Your Practice Can Improve its EHR
- Participate in user groups and attend user conferences if your EHR vendor offers them. Be sure to bring along a list of pain points and specific issues you would like to address with the vendor.
- Talk with other practices who are using your EHR system and find out how it is working for them. Some practices may be willing to share their experiences and even some benchmark data if you are willing to do so in return.
- Identify “Super Users” within your organization and provide them with additional training so they can help to train others on how to maximize your current EHR system.
- Identify physician champions who have used the system for some time and have been able to successfully implement it in their practices while continuing to see patients. They can offer valuable insight and suggest to fellow providers how to make the EHR work better for them.
- Seek out advice from professional consultants when necessary. Sometimes an outside perspective can help to get you unstuck if you have been dealing with a problem or challenge for too long.
- Be constantly on the lookout for new products and opportunities. Talk to your colleagues about what systems they are using and ask what their experience has been. While changing EHR systems may not be your first choice, it may be necessary if your vendor is not responsive.
You might notice that many of these strategies involve reaching out and talking to other people. Even though you may not feel like you have time, in the end you will benefit from the external feedback. It is easy to get buried in the day-to-day details of managing your patients and your practice, but when you reach out to others and share your experiences you will feel more connected and supported.
Feel free to reach out to the experts at Medical Advantage for help. Our EHR optimization consultants can help you prioritize and implement workflow changes and other strategies to maximize your EHR investment. We have relationships with multiple EHR vendors and can cut through the red tape and get the answers you need.
Remember that even small improvements in your EHR system functionality can go a long way in making life easier for physicians and office staff.