If you start your workday crossing your fingers that your EHR will behave, you are not alone. When it comes to the electronic health records (EHR), no perfect system exists despite the strides made to cope with an ever complex and shifting healthcare system.
For many healthcare professionals, EHR quirks can siphon hours from the day leading to awkward apologies to patients and never knowing if you will leave work at a reasonable hour. In this article, we will talk about how supplementing your vendor support with consultant help can bring about the efficiency needed to resolve EHR issues faster and more effectively so that you recover lost time.
Why Having an EHR Support Plan is Key
Because so much is tied to the EHR in daily healthcare operations, it is nearly impossible for a health system or practice to function when EHR difficulties persist and pile up. A solid EHR support plan is fundamental in getting ahead of EHR problems. This means that when any member of your professional staff runs into an EHR problem, they know whom to contact and if they can expect a timely response.
Questions that guide the planning process include.
- Should it be reported to your internal support desk or a manager first?
- Who makes the call to the vendor?
- What can be done in the meantime while you wait a support ticket to be answered and resolved?
- Do you need an EHR support contingency plan for COVID outbreaks or other extraordinary events?
EHR support plans are made in respect to what is best under the unique circumstances of each individual organization. This raises the question of where and how well vendor support fits into your protocol. That all depends on the practice environment and structure. While one practice may get along fine with vendor trouble ticketing, another similar practice may be in dire need of an alternative.
Pros and Cons of EHR Vendor Support
The best EHR vendors want their customers to be satisfied with their experience and have a good word to say about their product so that other consumers will consider using their products too. Part of this is taking care of the customer with post-purchase EHR support services. It is reassuring for the client to know that they can contact the vendor for help when things go wrong.
In most cases, the healthcare organization will reach someone close to the development process when they contact vendor support. Your in-house IT helpdesk is likely to be focused on the computer itself, while the vendor can address software issues. The vendor can also use trouble ticket metrics to inform future EHR improvement plans.
While incentives to provide EHR support services are common knowledge, and vendors probably have the best intentions to provide a satisfactory experience, how then does vendor support miss the mark?
- Large customer base – A vendor has numerous customers facing problems just like yours. Because there is an abundance of clients to take care of, you may not hear back from them in time, and the support desk may limit what kinds of requests they can fulfil. When you sit in a queue waiting for your turn, there is not much flexibility to work around your own busy schedule.
- Hurried process – Vendor support will focus on getting the issue at hand resolved as quickly as possible and may not make time to prevent the issue from repeating. As mentioned above, this does not allow for the kind of flexibility to where you can have the agent call you at the time best for you.
- Software experts rather than healthcare experts – While modern healthcare truly needs software developers to create the EHR systems we need, there can still be gaps in understanding when it comes to healthcare workflows. Even with the best intentions, developers may not understand the full implications of a persistent software issue.
EHR Consulting as Alternative or Supplemental Support
Because EHRs can be difficult to work with, EHR “whisperers” exist – better known as EHR consultants. The number one goal of an EHR consultant team is for each client to get the most from their EHR, saving time, reducing burnout, and in many cases, recovering revenue. Sometimes this means a major overhaul with a comprehensive optimization. But with all the solutions that an experienced consultant holds, they can also help manage smaller matters through support desk help.
As part of our EHR services package, Medical Advantage offers an EHR Helpdesk for additional support to either replace or supplement vendor tech support. Our Helpdesk consultants are “EHR agnostic” meaning they can resolve problems within nearly all platforms.
The Helpdesk team is prepared to tackle virtually any issue, bridging the gaps between vendors and clients. Typical Helpdesk issues our consultants resolve include – but are not limited to:
- Adding new insurance packages
- Adding referring providers
- Updating lab compendium
- Loading documents in the right place
- Simple EHR decision support tweaks
- Creating simple templates
- Best practice workflow guidance with step-by-step instructions
A Concierge Approach to Helpdesk Support
Because our goal is to clear up as many EHR problems as we can, Medical Advantage offers an EHR Helpdesk. Consultancy helpdesks can either step in for or supplement the EHR support from the vendor. Our Helpdesk is like a concierge service as it is on call to help with a wide range of EHR challenges. Reasons you might need an EHR Helpdesk like ours include:
- Time constraints – It can be difficult to fit a support session into your schedule. Because we serve a smaller pool of clients compared to what major EHRs vendors oversee, we can respond to your ticket right away or we can call you back when you expect to be free. This flexibility minimizes disruption to your workday. Our consultants can even speak to your vendor on your behalf in situations where there is no time at all to go through troubleshooting.
- Vendor limitations – There may be things your vendor does not help with because to do so for everyone would overload their ticket systems. We can help with most minor issues, including password resets. But also keep in mind that our vetted consultants are prepared to assist with complex matters as well.
- Resolving recurring issues – Consultants can pick up on patterns surrounding recurring issues and recommend secondary solutions that reduce – or even eliminate – the need to call for support again. In some cases, our consultants can even give you some pointers on how to resolve the issue on your own should it happen again.
Summary: EHR Vendor Support Compared to EHR Consultant Support
While EHRs are not perfect, without software vendors and developers, modern healthcare would not be where it is today allowing medicine to best manage patient information in the digital age. However, EHR software is not a catch-all solution when it comes to the complexity and intricacies of healthcare. For that reason, EHR consultants are instrumental in reconciling any gaps and disconnects between technology and the people who use it.
An EHR Helpdesk is one more way consultants can help healthcare professionals have greater success and extract more value from their EHRs. For those who find that ongoing EHR issues have become costly, it may be time to look toward alternative solutions to the customary vendor helpdesk. The benefits of having an EHR consultant on call are:
- Personal service – Our Helpdesk can work around your schedule addressing a wide range of problems. Having a small group dedicated Helpdesk consultants means you will likely reach the same agents you have worked with before who will already be familiar with your specific issues. This presents the opportunity to build relationships with your Helpdesk rather than feel like just a number
- Client oversight – Rather than just go in and fix the problem, our team members can walk you through each step so that changes are never made to the EHR without your knowledge and your approval. Plus, our Helpdesk can give you pointers on how to avoid or address future occurrences.
- Orientation call – In a 30-minute onboarding call, clients can learn what all our consultants can do for them as the consultant familiarizes themselves with the unique challenges at hand. During this orientation, clients learn all the different ways to submit a ticket, offering a flexibility most vendor support services do not.
- Consultative approach – Our Helpdesk consultants can drill down to the root causes of recurring problems and point out surrounding issues. Our approach is more holistic, and not just a band aid.
- EHR agnostic – Because we work with EHRs of all kinds, our services are not limited to helping with just one or a handful of EHRs.
- Seeing problems from your point of view – When calling vendor support, you may or may not reach an agent with clinic-side experience. Because of the considerable number of healthcare organizations our consultants work with, our EHR support Helpdesk understands your problems from a healthcare professional’s perspective. Chances are our agents have already resolved the problems you are dealing with, and thus can offer the most effective solutions.
- Vendor liaison – Several clients use our Helpdesk to have someone contact the vendor on their behalf. For example, the client may not have time to sit on the phone and troubleshoot with the vendor. Sometimes there is a lack of understanding between the vendor and the client, and our Helpdesk can step in to help articulate your issue. For example, the vendor may tell the client something that sounds off, and our Helpdesk can reach out to the vendor and clarify.
Get the EHR Help You Need When You Need It
Sometimes EHR problems bring everything to a screeching halt, and this can negatively impact patient satisfaction. That’s why we offer an on-demand EHR support Helpdesk for our EHR clients. This provides ready access to experienced consultants prepared to address your issues at the time that works best for you, whether that is right now, or your next available opportunity.
While some issues can be resolved with a one-time Helpdesk session, sometimes we will recommend more comprehensive EHR solutions including:
- EHR Optimization
- EHR Migration Consulting
- RCM Optimization
- Customized Training and custom training materials (such as tip sheets)
Get started on your EHR support plan now by requesting contact from one of our knowledgeable consultants.