Electronic Health Record (EHR) Configuration
At HealthTECH Resources, we know that every organization is different in terms of its needs, workflow, and processes. That’s why we tailor every solution to the individual organization and ensure that each system is configured precisely to that organization’s needs and specifications. We know that the field of healthcare is constantly evolving, and we keep that in mind when configuring any of our EHR systems. Taking an approach that is focused on the bigger picture, rather than just the technology itself, allows us to configure each system in a way that allows for flexibility and versatility at each step.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) Optimization
New systems often require substantial investments for our clients. Optimization is critical in terms of maximizing that investment.
With our national reach and industry knowledge, HealthTECH is able to provide training and tailored optimization solutions that allow our clients to get the absolute most out of their new systems. Our optimizations allow clients to protect their investment and make sure their systems are operating at full potential.
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Importance of EHR Configuration
EHR systems are crucial to improve the health and satisfaction of the people you serve, doing so as efficiently as possible. Studies have shown how patients can have better outcomes when the power of EHR is properly leveraged and this can also reduce potentially dangerous errors. So, the capabilities of EHR applications are clear.
Focusing on one word from the paragraph above—efficiently—highlights the importance of EHR configuration. If the software isn’t efficiently and appropriately configured for use, then adoption rates won’t be as high. When adoption rates aren’t high, then your healthcare organization won’t reap the benefits of your software or receive the return on investment that you should.
In October 2015, Neurology Clinical Practice delved into this issue. Although “Configuring electronic health records to meet the needs of neurologists” focuses on one medical specialty, conclusions can be broadly applied.
FIrst, when an EHR system isn’t well configured, physician satisfaction is low. Negatives include “poor usability, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, inefficient and less fulfilling work content, inability to exchange health information, and degradation of clinical documentation.”
The journal notes that none of these were due to technical capabilities of the EHR system. It was because the application was not configured to dovetail with their needs. When a department creates a clear vision of what they need and articulates goals for the system, everything changes.
The journal notes how “The importance of fit between a practice and its EHR cannot be emphasized enough.” One size, they continue, does not fit all. One system may have their EHR configured in a highly satisfying way. That same system, placed in another provider’s venue, may not suit their needs at all.
Here’s their conclusion: “given enough time and effort, it is truly possible to configure an EHR to do exactly what you want to do. In that light, the EHR is just a tool. Figuring out exactly what you want it to do has always been and will always be the more difficult task.”
The professionals in our network are highly skilled in working alongside your healthcare organization to solidify what you want and need and then configuring the EHR system in precisely those ways. Our boutique-style agency can provide experts of unsurpassed knowledge in:
- Epic configuration
- Oracle Cerner configuration
- Allscripts/Altera configuration
- MEDITECH configuration
- NextGen configuration
Importance of EHR Optimization
When your EHR application is optimized, your doctors, nurses, insurance specialists, and other team members will be freed up to spend more time and attention on quality patient care. That’s because they’ll spend less time on routine tasks, including paperwork. An optimized EHR application, then, is a true productivity enhancer that benefits patients and medical professionals alike.
As the configuration example demonstrates, a well optimized system facilitates higher adoption rates. When a well optimized EHR application is highly adopted and contains streamlined workflows, then your healthcare organization will benefit from efficient, cost effective usage and more quickly realize your return on investment.
HealthTECH Resources provides skilled, experienced professionals for:
- Epic optimization
- Cerner optimization
- Allscripts optimization
- MEDITECH optimization
- NextGen optimization
During the optimization process of a new EHR software system, your organization can make key decisions that will maximize its power. For example, you can review data and make decisions about what to clean and migrate, what to archive, and so forth. You can take an objective look at your current analytics and reporting, and then create a vision for more meaningful information going forward. You can craft your technology to go beyond simply meeting compliance needs. You can optimize your EHR software in ways that allow you to stay ahead of constantly evolving compliance changes.
We can help. Whether you need Epic optimization professionals, Cerner optimization professionals, or ones for another EHR brand, we can supply the experts you need. As just one example, when you augment your IT staff with professionals from our deep and wide network, they are highly skilled at right pacing the software’s implementation and optimization.
When EHR systems are too quickly implemented, vital workflows can be rushed through—with results like those described in the neurology department. Some processes might be overlooked entirely. The result can be clunky, an application that forces physicians and other users to waste time as they navigate through repetitive screens or through less targeted workflows. The more time that’s spent on routine tasks, the less time is available for patient care. Money is wasted. Users get frustrated.
When implementations go too slowly, perhaps because of pitfalls that could have been prevented, the process becomes more costly and less efficient. Right-pacing an implementation and optimization process is one of the ways that our experts can keep your project on time and on budget. This is one way among many that they help you to reach your targeted return on investment.
Choose HealthTECH Resources
You need the right team for your EHR configuration and optimization and for training staff in the new system. You may find, when reviewing your in-house IT team, that you’ve got gaps in skills sets. If so, that’s not unusual—and that’s where we come in. We can help you to analyze your staffing needs and then augment your team based on our mutual findings. Or, you can let us know what professionals you need and we’ll provide them through our deep and wide network.
We’ve got 20 years of experience in the industry, specializing in one niche: staff supplementation for EMR, EHR, and healthcare IT applications. Our boutique-style agency can provide the experts you need as consultants, contract-to-hire professionals, or permanent placements, and we can meet even stringent deadlines.
To get started right-sizing your EHR team with experts in configuration, optimization, and much more, please contact us online or call (602) 903-7961. We’re here to help and ready to get started.
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EHR Optimization FAQs
Optimizing your electronic health records involves taking a granular look at the system workflows and finding opportunities to improve the application’s usage. At a high level, effective EMR optimization makes the system more efficient and cost-effective while streamlining end-user navigation and data retrieval. The end result helps your healthcare organization to provide better patient outcomes. Ease of use also helps to prevent physician burnout.
In addition, data can be accessed more easily and securely across multiple locations and providers on a single platform. This streamlines collaborative efforts when treating a patient and reduces the potential for medical errors. This enhances healthcare organizations’ ability to protect patient safety. Plus, having the ability to get a fully up-to-date and complete medical history allows doctors to be aware of a patient’s allergies and helps them to avoid prescribing a medication that would interact negatively with ones already being taken.
Ease of report generation allows healthcare organizations to more easily stay in compliance. Trends can arise from other reports that can help with research and quality improvement. From a financial perspective, well-optimized EHR systems are likely to have more rapid returns on investment for your healthcare organization.
EMR optimization can help to maximize the seamless use of patient portals—thereby boosting the quality of doctor-patient communications. Plus, tools embedded in the systems can contribute towards preventative care, which is key to managing physical and mental health conditions. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in their report, “An Interactive Preventive Care Record,” prevention techniques—such as immunizations, preventive medications, and counseling—are highly effective in maintaining patients’ overall health, extending their lives and improving its quality. When this reveals treatable or reversible conditions, mortality from major chronic diseases can be lowered by 15 to 30 percent.
Americans, however, suffer from a “prevention gap.” Barriers, such as lack of knowledge, limited motivation, and logistical issues, have helped to play a role in this fact: Americans only receive about half of recommended care. Well-crafted EHRs, though, can inform, educate, and remind people of recommended preventive care while also offering guidance when information is inconsistent and directing people where to get additional relevant resources.
Also, because members of healthcare teams can all see the same, real-time health information, including a patient’s history, they can better diagnose, prescribe, and otherwise manage patients’ overall health.
EMR optimization streamlines end users’ usage, giving them the ability to efficiently navigate patient information efficiently—which helps to reduce frustration and the burnout that often follows. As clinicians have ready access to precisely the information they need, they can have a higher positive impact on patient health outcomes. Plus, EHR systems can help to prevent information overload by reducing the presence of information that medical teams don’t need.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), in their journal article, “Electronic Health Records, Communication, and Data Sharing: Challenges and Opportunities For Improving the Diagnostic Process,” cites numerous studies that reveal the challenges associated with data overload and fragmented information delivery. Some solutions are as follows:
- Batch messaging related to routine care to avoid email/messaging glut.
- Prioritize critical pages, allowing physicians to read routine ones later.
- Restructure EHRs to support decision-making and diagnoses.
- Integrate patient data, such as test results, labs, notes, and images, to more easily see the full picture; display this information in more clinically relevant ways.
- Review auto-populated data and consider if alerts or notifications would help to avoid information bloat.
- Physicians could then self-select what to review and when. Streamline ordering and collecting processes and expedite results for labs and tests.
- Use wheels! Put laptops, computers, tablets, phones, and other technologies used to access EHR data on wheels for morning rounds.
- Ensure physician training is complete and up to date to streamline usage.
Each healthcare organization has its own processes, and it takes professional analysis to determine how to create EHR workflows to seamlessly match those processes for the most efficient use. Although it’s tempting to make changes on the go to solve immediate challenges, effective EHR workflows are created through careful planning and input from all relevant stakeholders. Gather information about what works especially well and where inefficiencies exist. According to HealthIT.gov, workflow process mapping is key to clarifying processes and identifying bottlenecks, serving as blueprints for the future. Because this will be a multidisciplinary process, thoughtfully identify the stakeholders for a comprehensive map. Who participates in what activities? Who will benefit from each of the improved processes directly or indirectly? Determine the tasks, who is involved, the steps needed to complete the tasks, and the desired outcomes. HealthIT.gov suggests a team of five to eight people to create the mapping, which may include patients; someone who is not responsible for the processes being discussed should facilitate with management providing resources and support.
Once new, optimized EHR workflows are put into place, all types of end users must be appropriately trained. In-house teams may not have enough time, given their current duties, and may not have the specialties required.
EMR optimization best practices include:
- Carefully choosing who has access to particular pieces of data
- Availability of patient information should be securely managed at each level of usage
- Make sure all levels of usage are as streamlined as possible
- Automate, whenever possible, to help prevent human error and otherwise limit risk.
Experts should capture relevant process documentation for manuals with engaging, interactive training programs designed for each end user type in your healthcare organization. Gather feedback, post-training, and answer all user questions. When the application goes live, post-EMR optimization, ensure expert support. You may decide to offer super user training, in-house IT professionals can offer this support, or hire qualified EHR professionals. Also, make sure you educate patients on changes in portals.