As physicians face increasing pressure to perform in value-based care arrangements, they are relying heavily on their EHR systems for support. Physicians have high expectations in terms of what their EHR systems should deliver. According to a 2018 Deloitte Insights survey, only 10 percent of physicians reported being satisfied with their EHR system as it is. The other 90 percent of physicians surveyed wanted to see more functionality, including:
- Increased interoperability
- Accessibility via mobile devices
- Improved functionality to add patient information
- Enhanced workflow capabilities
- Automated reporting to support quality measurement
- Ability to generate custom reports
As a health care administrator, 2019 should be the year where you transform your EHR into a useful tool for physicians and office staff, not a hindrance or barrier. Many think the only solution is to switch EHRs and go through a completely new implementation, but that is not necessarily the case. Switching to a new EHR system is expensive and may leave you with the same problems and issues because the system hasn’t been optimized for your operation. Before you start shopping for a new EHR system, consider an EHR optimization project for 2019. By optimizing your EHR, you can save money and put an end to EHR-based physician burnout.
The first step in EHR optimization is to find the pain points. These are the areas that cause the most stress and frustration for your staff. Pain points may include things such as documentation, communication, routing, workflows, and missing data. There may also be system performance issues related to speed that limit productivity. All of these things can contribute to dissatisfaction among your staff. If you want to uncover the pain points, start with a simple staff survey that includes structured questions as well as free-form responses. The survey will give you a large amount of input to analyze, prioritize, and inform your decision making.
Armed with the survey information, you can begin to implement changes by focusing on the low-hanging fruit – items that are relatively easy to implement and will have a significant impact. This will show your staff that you are committed to improving their work life. Often the capabilities your staff longs for are not too far-fetched. They may have read somewhere or heard from other medical professionals about certain capabilities that exist in an EHR system and they would like to have the same functionality. Many of these items are achievable once you are aware of the need and can align the appropriate resources to make it happen.
After you have exhausted your options with your current staff capabilities, it may be time to look into hiring a consultant. To ensure success, you’ll want to choose consultants who have a solid history working with the EHR vendor that you use. When working with an EHR consultant, be sure to request an in-depth analysis and an action plan before any work begins. This will ensure that the work being done is in line with the needs of your organization and makes the best use of your limited funds.
Using high-quality consultants can be a very cost-effective option for a cash-strapped practice, if managed properly. You will want to make sure that you create channels for open and regular communication in order to keep the project on track and on budget. You will also want to engage with key staff and make sure everyone in the organization buys in to the project and associated goals.
An new EHR implementation is a very expensive, stressful process. Many smaller health systems, independent practices, and FQHC’s simply don’t have the funds to invest in a new EHR system.
By focusing on optimization of your existing EHR system, you can save money, increase productivity, and improve employee morale – all at the same time.
If you don’t have the in-house capabilities to get the job done, consider partnering with the EHR consultants at Medical Advantage. We can help you assess the needs, gain buy-in, and make the necessary changes to optimize your EHR system. You’ll become a hero in 2019!