Maximize Practice Performance Through EHR Optimization

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With the information age, the digitization of patient health information was inevitable and necessary to keep pace with technological advances and changing conventions. Paperless recordkeeping promised the healthcare community a system with better security and integrity – a system now known as electronic health records (EHR). 

Though EHRs often struggle to live up to the expectations of many healthcare professionals, they are an indispensable part of medical practice operations. However, many of the drawbacks that EHR users assume they must live with can be improved upon. While the hope is that advancements in EHR development will continue to emerge, today we will discuss some of the more significant benefits of EHRs improved through optimization.  

Top EHR Complaints from Practice Staff 

Perhaps the best resource for uncovering EHR improvement opportunities is feedback from the system’s users. Without articulating what’s wrong with the EHR, most problems are nearly impossible to identify. Comments you may have heard around the office include: 

  • “I have to enter a lot more data to satisfy incentive programs.” 
  • “There are just too many clicks to go through.” 
  • “I’m working more hours than before.” 
  • “There are too many ways I can document the same thing. I am not sure which is the right way to do it.” 
  • “This technology is interfering with my patient communications. 

While your practice leadership cannot promise EHR perfection, solutions still can be sought to relieve those annoyances that commonly contribute to healthcare professional burnout. 

Why Do I Need to Optimize My EHR Software? 

After working with hundreds of frustrating situations with EHRs, the consensus among our seasoned consultants is that these software set-ups are, unfortunately, not compatible right “out of the box.” Think of your base EHR system as a starter kit. You may need to trim, swap, or discard certain parts to unlock the benefits of implementing an EHR system. 

Even if you purchase an EHR considered the most compatible one for your specialty, there are still customization options that help you get the best use of your system. For example, personalizing workflows helps EHR users be more efficient in day-to-day operations. 

The reality is that the world of healthcare is just way too complicated for a singular “one-size-fits-all” EHR solution. Unfortunately, using the system as-is can cost a medical practice time, efficiency, and talent – ultimately hindering your team from improving patient care and revenue.  

Top 7 Benefits of an Optimized EHR 

Optimizing an EHR system is challenging, but many practices and groups are finding that putting resources into this effort pays off. The following are the top eight optimized EHR benefits. 

1.) Accessibility 

Enhanced access is a benefit of EHR optimization. Clinicians need to be able to access patient data readilyfrom anywhere using a cloud-based system. With secure and reliable remote access, on-call physicians can now open a patient’s medical records while providing telemedicine, and clinical staff can update and improve clinical notes from elsewhere when needed. 

EHR optimization also promotes accessibility by supporting patient portal performance. A patient portal that is dependable and offers a full menu of convenient features is instrumental for encouraging and facilitating patient engagement.  

2.) Improved Efficiency  

EHR optimization promotes efficiency by calibrating automations, saving time for office staff on manual tasks such as pulling, filing, and updating charts. The ability to transmit clinical data to other providers electronically also enables office staff to spend less time calling and faxing to get needed information prior to a patient’s visit.  

EHRs can increase integration efficiency with pharmacies to ensure that patients receive their medications faster. Many EHR systems also come with built-in templates that can standardize and enhance workflows to reduce medical errors. All of these efficiencies can save time and money for busy physician practices.  

3.) Interoperability 

Interoperability is perhaps the most significant benefit of an EHR system as it aims to empower healthcare professionals to solve problems using the most complete data on hand for evidence-based decision-making. Multiple federal government initiatives pushing for interoperability with patient records.  

An EHR is considered interoperable when medical records and health information are easily transmitted from one system or provider to another. It allows everyone involved in a patient’s care plan to be well prepared for the next step, whatever that step may be. 

4.) Care Coordination 

Closely related to interoperability, care coordination is another key benefit unlocked by EHR optimization. When an EHR system is in place, it allows every care team member to have access to the most up-to-date patient information. This helps to reduce medical errors and reduce the likelihood of unnecessary tests and procedures being ordered.  

Care coordination is also supported by EHRs when delays in record sharing are removed. For example, when a primary care doctor needs to follow up on a referral, the EHR system can instantly retrieve an accurate and up-to-date summary of care the specialist provided to the patient. Of course, improved care coordination will produce a significant positive impact on patient outcomes. 

5.) Patient Engagement  

More and more patients are taking charge of their health. This proactive mindset is exactly what practices want to encourage in terms of preventive care and management of chronic diseases. When patients can easily access records, reports, educational materials, appointment scheduling, medication refill requests, and contact their physicians without having to call the office this cultivates invaluable patient engagement. 

6.) Clinical Decision Support.  

When properly configured, clinical decision support tools can help the care team to get the most out of each patient visit. One of the most commonly used clinical decision support tools is the care gap alert. These alerts not only ensure that patients receive necessary tests and services, but they can also help practices achieve performance incentives under value-based care programs.  

Clinical decision support tools are EHR benefits that can help to prevent medical errors by tracking special situations, such as medication allergies, for each patient. Having an EHR system in place provides checks and balances to ensure that patients receive the best quality care. 

7.) Reporting and Incentive Programs 

Accurate reporting is one of the most important benefits of EHR optimization. Not only does a medical practice want to ensure they are well-compensated for the services they provide, but they also need accurate reporting for care quality. For example, patient population management depends on complete and precise reporting.  

With programs like the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), organizations are offered financial incentives for their efforts to provide cost-effective, quality care for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Reporting is crucial to earning shared savings. You won’t get credit for all your hard work if the quality measures reporting doesn’t accurately reflect your performance. 

Summary: The Benefits of EHRs That Are Optimized 

The overall benefit of using an EHR is to leverage technology for comprehensive patient records management. Despite the wide variety of EHR software options out in the market, seldom do base-model EHR systems work as end users would hope. 

Without optimization, EHRs can make healthcare harder for professionals to perform – a situation that often leads to burnout. But an EHR that works for you and not against you is what EHR optimization is designed to achieve. Making thorough improvements can eliminate many of the frustrations of using the EHR and – hopefully – allow clinicians and staff to end the workday sooner. 

While there are many areas that optimization can improve upon, some of the main benefits of EHR enhancements include improvements in accessibility, efficiency, interoperability, care coordination, patient engagement, clinician decision support, and reporting accuracy. 

Unlock the Potential of Your EHR with Innovative Optimization Strategies 

By now, your practice team may have learned to tolerate the many quirks of an EHR. But with EHR optimization, something can be done to combat the inefficiencies with your EHR that lead to staff burnout, disenchanted patients, and even lost revenue. 

With over 20 years of industry experience, our seasoned consultants have worked with hundreds of EHRs, in nearly every healthcare scenario. Our mission to simplify the delivery of efficient, high-quality healthcare is successful when we unlock the true power of EHRs through optimization. Reach out to learn more about how optimizations can transform your practice. 

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Maximize Practice Performance Through EHR Optimization

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