With healthcare becoming increasingly complex, electronic health records (EHRs) have the potential to facilitate the management and sharing of patient data, save time for healthcare providers, and improve the quality of care delivered. However, not all EHR systems are created equal, and some organizations may not be utilizing their EHRs to their full potential thus decreasing captured revenue and overall valuation of the practice at exit.
Enter EHR gap analysis to help practices identify performance gaps and reveal actionable opportunities. Private equity investors can use this analysis to determine the areas that require immediate attention, such as compliance, security, or revenue cycle. Through this analysis, investors can identify both technical and operational gaps, which can raise potential red flags about the efficiency and profitability of the healthcare system.
Importance of EHRs for Healthcare Providers
With the shift towards value-based care, EHRs have enabled healthcare providers to streamline patient care, improve communication, and reduce medical errors. However, with any new technology, comes challenges, including:
- Impact on Revenue Cycle
- Implementation and training
- Data security and privacy
A gap analysis can help pinpoint any gaps in the EHR system that may be contributing to these problems; but understanding the basics of gap analysis is a preliminary step in reaping its benefits.
What is a Gap Analysis?
For any product or service provider, a gap analysis is a method used to identify the difference between the current state and the desired future state of a particular system, process, or situation. For private equity investors, an EHR gap analysis can provide insights into – and enhance – the value of their investments.
A successful EHR gap analysis requires proper planning and execution. Stakeholders should start by identifying what they want to achieve with the gap analysis and choose a third-party EHR consultant who has relevant experience with similar organizations. The consultant then assesses the practice’s current systems, processes, and EHR workflows to identify potential gaps. They gather data through database analysis, workflow observation, surveys, and a review of previous reports and dashboards.
The consultant will then analyze the data and present their findings in a detailed report. The report will usually include and prioritize issues, costs involved in fixing the gaps, and the impact of the gaps. Private equity investors can use this analysis to determine the areas that require immediate attention, such as uncaptured revenue or compliance or security red flags.
EHR gap analysis also offers essential insights into the patient demographics, which are useful for both healthcare providers and private equity firms. By employing analytics-based methods, EHR gap analysis enables stakeholders to understand the specific needs of the communities the organizations serve.
Why is Gap Analysis Important?
When private equity firms invest in multiple medical practices, it becomes difficult to manage and consolidate their EHR systems. Every practice may be using different EHR systems with varying features and functionality. Once the ideal EHR system is identified, it can be implemented across all practices, enabling standardization and consistency.
Investors will also want to understand EHR system’s ability to generate meaningful revenue cycle data insights through profit gap analysis. Other types of EHR gap analysis include:
- Functional gap analysis — During a functional gap analysis, the EHR team will analyze the EHR system by comparing it to the medical practice’s functional requirements and identify gaps where functionality is missing or not working optimally.
- Workflow gap analysis — This analysis identifies bottlenecks within the current clinical processes and maps workflows within the EHR system to optimize the medical practice’s clinical workflows. Essentially, the analysis determines how healthcare organizations can use the EHR system to improve clinical workflows and ensure maximum efficiency.
- Security gap analysis — This analysis identifies security risks and vulnerabilities within the system and recommends measures to address them.
- Data gap analysis — A data gap analysis evaluates the quality and completeness of the data within the EHR system and helps identify the data elements that the EHR system cannot currently capture or any that are missing.
Applying the Gap Analysis Process to an EHR System
One significant benefit of performing a gap analysis for an EHR system is that it will identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (also known as a SWOT analysis) in detail and the areas that may need attention. This will help prioritize time and resources to address the areas where problems exist, while continuing to build on the strengths of the current system, which in turn can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and streamline workflows.
Closing the gaps in an EHR system requires an in-depth understanding of the practice’s processes and how to approach the necessary changes. A gap analysis typically involves working with a team of professionals who have expertise in EHR systems and the ability to evaluate processes and workflows. The use of an experienced EHR consultant can bring an impartial perspective to investors as they can look at the system from an outsider’s viewpoint. This step can provide investors with insights and recommendations that they may not have thought about before.
EHR Gap Analysis and Patient Care
EHR gap analysis provides several benefits towards achieving better patient outcomes. By identifying the areas of improvement in the EHR system, it helps lessen the likelihood of medical errors, makes the healthcare operations more efficient, and overall improves the quality of care provided to patients. The EHR gap analysis can also provide healthcare organizations with a competitive edge as it increases their capacity to provide better-quality care to their patients.
In addition, EHR gap analysis helps healthcare providers stay on track with regulatory compliance, which reduces legal liabilities and fines. With the analysis, it is easier to ensure that all regulatory requirements that govern healthcare operations are met. Finally, healthcare providers can ensure that treatment delivery is consistent and that the patient care outcome is of the highest quality.
Steps in EHR Gap Analysis
The following steps serve as a gap analysis template for a step-by-step assessment to determine how certain EHR functions align with the practice’s business requirements or clinical needs and identify areas of improvement or opportunities for better optimization.
1. Define Business Requirements and Clinical Needs
Medical organizations must have a clear understanding of their business requirements and clinical needs to identify gaps in their EHR systems. Business parameters may refer to billing, scheduling, or administrative duties, while clinical needs are focused on the quality of patient care. Providers must work with their staff and stakeholders to determine the specific business needs and clinical goals that their EHR must meet.
2. Identify Key Performance Indicators
After determining business requirements and clinical needs, organizations should identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that define the performance and functionality of their EHR systems. KPIs may include measuring workflow efficiency, productivity, patient engagement, and regulatory compliance that will help organizations track their EHR performance. Defining KPIs is essential for establishing benchmarks for the EHR gap analysis process.
3. Conduct a Gap Analysis
Once the organization has defined its business requirements and clinical goals and identified the KPIs, they can proceed to the gap analysis stage. A gap analysis involves evaluating whether the EHR system meets the determined KPIs, identifying gaps or inefficiencies, and assessing the potential impact of those gaps on the practice’s operations or patient outcomes. Through a gap analysis, organizations can evaluate EHR features such as user interfaces, system integration, data capture, laboratory results, and e-prescriptions.
4. Develop an Action Plan
Based on the results of the gap analysis, healthcare organizations should develop a strategic plan of action outlining the steps necessary to address identified gaps. The action plan should prioritize the gaps based on their impact and urgency and provide specific recommendations on how to resolve them. Providers should share this action plan with staff, stakeholders, and EHR vendors to ensure everyone is aligned with the plan’s goals and objectives.
5. Monitor and Maintain
Conducting an EHR gap analysis and implementing corrective actions is not a one-time exercise. Stakeholders need to continuously monitor and maintain the EHR system against established KPIs and business needs. Regular evaluation and assessment help practices and investors to identify new gaps and opportunities and make continuous improvements.
Summary: Conducting a Strategic Gap Analysis for Private Equity
Private equity investors can leverage EHR gap analysis to measure the performance of an EHR system, identify pain points, and develop recommendations for improvements based on industry best practices.
EHR gap analysis facilitates the streamlining of processes and ensures compliance. It is crucial to partner with certified and experienced professionals to ensure that the EHR analysis process is comprehensive, effective, and addresses all gaps.
Uncover Gaps and Optimize Operations with an EHR Gap Analysis
Medical Advantage’s experienced EHR consultants have decades of experience helping medical practices and private equity investors achieve their goals and maximize their ROI. Contact us to learn more about how our experts can close the gap.