Several years ago, HealthTechMagazine acknowledged how helpful technology can be in facilitating patient-provider communication. Both parties, the article reads, saw equal value in having internet access to healthcare information and in using web-based patient portals.
That said, 78 percent of patients wanted easier access than what they currently had with 48 percent of them recognizing how beneficial it would be to have better information about their medical conditions. In other words, a good percentage of patients saw the value of having their medical data communicated to them while longing for the information gap to be closed.
Nowadays, patients expect to have a give-and-take style of communication with healthcare providers. When communication is satisfactory, then patient outcomes can be improved, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine. This can be particularly true in the areas of symptom resolution, pain control, and mental health.
Communication Benefits of EMR Systems
EMR systems play a key role in closing the communication gap through these features and activities:
- Patient Portals
- Coding and Payment Processing
Interoperability is when two or more healthcare systems communicate and exchange patient information. The adoption of robust EMR systems by hospitals and clinics that are interoperable is enabling seamless information sharing. This ensures that healthcare professionals have access to real-time patient information, which enables more effective communication and improved care.
As HealthIT.gov notes, interoperability “enables better workflows and reduced ambiguity, and allows data transfer among EHR systems and health care stakeholders. Ultimately, an interoperable environment improves the delivery of health care by making the right data available at the right time to the right people.”
Establishing and maintaining an interoperable environment, the agency notes, is especially important when the application interacts with end users (e-prescribing is the example given); how different systems can message one another; how information is processed; and how applications integrate with consumer devices.
These portals, the National Library of Medicine states, “have demonstrated benefit by . . . providing patient-provider communication” among other benefits. There’s always room for improvement, as the study shares, but this is a clear and important benefit of the technology.
HealthIT.gov, meanwhile, shares a case study in which the use of patient portals offered up a “much better means of communication.” The case study describes a federally qualified health center that experienced as many as two hundred no-returns monthly. This diminished healthcare because of a lack of follow-up while costing the health center time and money.
Phone and postal mail communications had less than satisfactory results, so they held small focus groups with patients to discover what they might want in a patient portal and their ability to access information. Tailoring the solution to their patients’ needs, the care team communicates with them much more reliably with the portal allowing them to interact with patients, and providing answers within twenty-four hours.
Plus, consider how freeing up physician and nurse time through technology will allow them to have more face time with patients with more urgent needs—further closing the communication gap.
Through portals, patients can see real-time information, such as prescriptions, test results, and after-visit summaries; schedule services; receive letters from healthcare professionals; and more. They can request medication refills and referrals and ask non-emergency questions. They can check in for in-person appointments and use the portal for telehealth ones. They can fill in enrollment forms, receive reminders, and so forth.
From the healthcare team’s perspective, this is an easy way to send communications, answer questions, and read the information on forms sent by patients. All of this digital communication can greatly reduce miscommunications and allow patients, who may be nervous during a healthcare appointment, to review the information provided by healthcare teams in the comforts of their own home.
Coding and Payment Processing
Part of the communication process involves the financial end of healthcare. You can leverage finance-related EMR modules to streamline the process and communicate the necessary information to relevant parties.
More specifically, when patient coding and billing are seamlessly integrated into the EMR system, the proper information is forwarded to insurers and then to the patients. When the patients have questions about the billing, your patient accounting department can easily access the information; provide answers to patient questions; and correct and update information as needed.
Although payment processing isn’t typically considered to be a form of provider-patient communication (like patient portals are), this is a vital part of the patient experience. Fortunately, today’s robust EMR systems have financial management modules that allow healthcare facilities to streamline billing procedures to communicate accurate information to insurers and patients alike.
The interoperability of modern EMR systems and their patient portals and coding and payment processing modules are just three of the many ways in which these applications can help to close the patient-provider communication gap. For this to occur, though, expert EMR implementation, integration, and optimization must take place. We can help!
Professional EMR Consulting Services
Whether you’re in need of EMR migration services as you switch from one brand of application to another or you’re ready to upgrade your software—or you’ll be using EMR technology for the very first time—we’ve got the experts you want and need. HealthTECH Resources has been focusing solely on the healthcare IT space throughout our 20-plus years of industry leadership. We have cultivated a deep and wide network of EMR consultants who are ready and willing to help you enhance your technology to, among other things, close the patient-provider communication gap.
HealthTECH Resources can help you with your analysis of your in-house IT team, examining both their bandwidth and their specialties—and then we’ll strategically augment your organization. Whether you need help with EMR implementation, integration, and optimization, or EMR migration, training, support, and more, we’ve got professionals of unsurpassed quality.
To discuss your needs for EMR consulting, please contact us online or call (602) 903-7961.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.