Optimizing the electronic health record (EHR) is about to become more of a challenge, but there are ways for organizations to prepare. With a looming economic downturn, professional services labor shortages, and ongoing supply chain disruptions, it can seem daunting to revise, improve, or implement an EHR system. Optimizing these systems is critical to creating operational efficiencies, reducing high administrative costs and improving financial stability. Here are some ways to optimize your EHR system during extended disruptions.
Know your EHR system
It is important to understand the functionality and benefits of tools that your organization has already implemented but may not yet be adopted by your department or other departments. It’s also critical to know how updates or available features to your current EHR or new system can impact overall business goals and increase value. Knowing the capabilities of an EHR system can reduce the need for a third-party system, reduce overall implementation and training costs, and reduce the complexity of staff members working across multiple systems.
An optimized EHR system can improve workflows, catalyze denial or referral response queues, and improve open access planning templates. Improving workflows through EHR optimization also creates the opportunity to reduce open appointments and charge times by improving clinical documentation tools and templates.
With continued labor shortages of front-line workers and back-office staff, it is more important than ever to ensure that digital solutions are integrated and implemented to reduce administrative burdens and increase provider and patient satisfaction . EHR systems can be updated with dashboards that include analytics for key metrics such as denials or provider performance metrics. By taking advantage of automated workflows and activities and ensuring that the system provides support to both the supplier organization and the suppliers themselves, you can reduce the impact of labor shortages.
Currently, improving the patient experience is critical for all service providers. Many patients are increasingly dissatisfied with their care, and some may even choose to delay care altogether. Results of a recent study by the Associated Press Center for Public Affairs Research and NORC found that 8 in 10 Americans are at least moderately concerned about getting access to quality health care when they need it. Easy access to telehealth and emergency medical services and increased healthcare consumption continue to influence patient loyalty. An optimized EHR system can help improve the patient experience by simplifying the referral process.
Optimizing your EHR system can also increase the effective use of the patient portal and empower patients or caregivers to take the lead in care management. The developed patient portal facilitates online self-appointment, allows patients to update their medical information and offers a medication review option. Advanced patient portals can simplify online check-in and arrival, online bill payment, and the patient’s ability to retrieve their records and visit notes. An optimized EHR system and patient portal create real-time access to patient data for patients, their caregivers and other providers in a way that was not possible before digital transformation. The ability of provider organizations and healthcare professionals to more effectively share patient data can lead to better, more personalized treatment.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
If a complete overhaul of your organization’s EHR system is out of the question, you can still make measurable, meaningful changes. Building and restoring patient relationships should be a top priority for all provider organizations, so a good place to start is to optimize the patient portal. Make the most of the reports, dashboards, and other functionality your current EHR system offers and use the technology you have to its full potential. EHR systems have the tools to generate documentation and order efficiency for a high-revenue specialty—or you can use these tools to take a struggling specialty and improve its documentation and reporting.
Adopting and optimizing EHR systems not only has the potential to create operational efficiencies and drive better outcomes for provider organizations, but can also improve patient care with faster, safer, and more cost-effective adoption of solutions. By optimizing your EHR system now, your organization will be better prepared to meet future healthcare, workforce and economic challenges.
Julie McGuire, MSN, RN, is the Managing Director at The BDO Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation. She has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare and 15 years of experience collaborating with operational and clinical partners to deliver and transform technology into new and existing facilities and services. BDO USA provides insurance, tax and financial advisory services to clients in the US and around the world and is a member of BDO International, the fifth largest accounting network in the world.
- 8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your EHR System BDO. August 2022. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://bit.ly/3T0iG1W
- Healthcare Stability Outlook Report: 2022 and 2023. BDO. September 2022 Accessed October 12, 2022 https://bit.ly/3g3dOur
- Support for a greater role for government in the health care of the elderly. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Research on Public Affairs. August 2022. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://bit.ly/3yY5ent