As EHRs have become widely adopted, unforeseen issues have emerged in how doctors and nurses use them. One of the more challenging issues is that a large number of doctors do not use the EHR as intended. As a result most clinicians have a strained relationship with their EHRs. Addressing these issues and ensuring that EHRs reach their full potential it’s very essential to establish a balance between the capabilities of the EHR and the needs of your practice.
The process of improving the usability of EHR works when you understand what your practice needs are. Once these needs are identified, you can form a plan and work with the help of your staff for the successful use of EHR. One that guides, predicts, warns, plans, remembers and orients you to what you most need to know.
In an effort to improve and analyze your EHR efficiency, consider the following issues:
- What EHR features are not being fully used, or are not used at all?
- Are paper documents managed outside of the EHR? Why?
- Are there any operational bottlenecks? How could the EHR help?
- For new advancements, has the practice developed a standard that incorporates appropriate EHR functions and practice processes to address the change?
- What does the practice need from the EHR to improve practice operations and patient service?
From system design to implementation and use, how can healthcare providers improve EHR usability and patient safety? We’ve pulled tips from recent studies that focus on how to improve EHRs usability. Here are just a few:
- Review the current use of EHR – Reviewing current use of the EHR, will enable the practice or organization to identify the unused or underused capabilities of the EHR against the practice or organization operations and see where it makes sense to change EHR use.
- Evaluate the unused or underused capabilities of the EHR – According to some research studies, many practices reported of having a fully functional EHR system in place yet are making use of only some of its basic capabilities such as recording patient demographics, clinical notes, problem lists, and medication lists. Whereas the higher-level functions such as Clinical Decision Support (CDS), e-Prescribing (eRx) and laboratory order entry that have been shown to have the greatest impact on improving patient outcome, reducing costs and increasing efficiency are often missed out.
- Systems tailored to the specific needs – Physicians need to make sure the system fits with their specialty of medicine. When a system fits with what a practice needs, EHR functions can be a powerful tool for driving patient safety improvements and making sure that each patient receives the most appropriate care possible. Your ideas and suggestions are to be needed to compel the vendor to provide a system tailored to your practice’s specific needs.
- Articulate your needs to get changes – Physicians must articulate their practice’s evolving needs and requirements to the EHR vendor. As a practical matter, vendors need information from their users base to identify and design the improvements that provide the greatest added value and attraction for new users.
- Consistent use to produce appropriate results – According to a recent study, consistent EHR utilization increased reimbursements with limited long-term practice productivity across all specialties. While the productivity losses can be seen in a negative light, the findings also suggest a type of efficiency in which the practices are getting paid more for seeing fewer patients. It is also possible to increase the efficiency by taking better care of fewer patients.
- Monitor procedures and workflow results periodically to ensure optimal EHR use – Performance monitoring will enable operational and product improvements that will allow practices to get more out of their EHR. This will enable the practices to be ahead of the curve when it comes to maximizing EHR use.
- Varied uses of configured tools – The practice may own old diagnostic equipment that cannot be connected to the EHR. The practice may have to incur the expense of diagnostic equipment that can work with the EHR, or have to scan and/or enter diagnostic images, readings, and information into the EHR. The configured tools dramatically affect the speed of information movement enables smooth tracking of patient service in the practice.
- Invest in adequate EHR training when onboarding physicians – To onboard new physicians, an organization must make a significant investment, as well as provide appropriate training facilities. Developing and managing a well-organized onboarding approach, customized to meet the needs of the individual physician, can protect your organization’s investment. By making the first four to six months a positive experience for new physicians, practices can significantly reduce dissatisfaction, turnover, and costs.
Managing Changes and Updates
As your EHR vendor adds new features, the practice should make efforts to adopt the EHR changes. Using an old version of the software is not in the interest of your clinicians or patients. Review the release notes of the new EHR version for changes, and analyze how those changes apply to your practice.
Learning about the upgrades and learning about all the possible options, managing clinical informatics on a regular basis is important. Ask different departments how they’re handling the changes and whether anyone has noticed problem areas that need improvement. Taking changes one step at a time will help staff adapt to the EHR more easily and ensure that patient care doesn’t suffer along the way.
Make your practice fly with EHR
To succeed we need a new approach. One where technology, usability, and a systems approach focuses on how the EHR acts as a helper to the user. Helpfulness should be our new measure of success. Taking this approach will cut down on learning time, eliminate confusion and get staff up to speed on the EHR more quickly.
Foster the spread of new and better ways to use EHR and be ahead of the curve when it comes to maximizing EHR use.