Countering EHR Frustration Through Better Patient Continuum of Care

By Jay Haughton, RN, BBA, and Clinical Solutions Consultant, DSS, Inc.
Twitter: @DSSHealthIT

The issue of physician burnout – caused by heavy administrative loads and poor workflows – is starting to become mainstream news.

All across the United States, the delivery of care is stressful for both patients and doctors. This stress is bad enough on its own, causing many physicians to leave the field. But just as damaging to population health is how workflows not designed for healthcare are destroying the ability to provide any continuum of care.

Why can’t patients access their data like they do in other aspects of their lives, like their work or commercial purchases? Why does care break down when patients see multiple doctors and specialists, with no one taking a holistic view of the continuum of care? It’s because first generation of electronic health record (EHR) technology was not designed for healthcare processes.

First-generation EHRs simply took inefficient paper processes and digitized them. This is much like the early, unsuccessful efforts of newspapers to go online – by simply turning their paper versions into non-interactive, non-intuitive PDF files.

Here’s one example of an inefficient process … imagine having to see head circumference on EVERY patient just because this is how it has always been done?

There are also inefficient processes when it comes to population health management (PHM) capabilities. For example, many current EHRs require excessive amounts of manual data access and manipulation, leading to time wasted, higher costs and a potentially compromised patient care experience.

These are all the mindless, repetitive standardizations that are becoming a thing of the past. The next generation of EHRs leverage cutting edge technologies that deliver better usability, flexibility and value, designed by clinicians who understand the processes that will deliver a true continuum of care.

The idea is to create designated views that matter to each specific caregiver. For example, a nurse will see data that is relevant to them, which could include isolation status, resuscitation status, pregnancy, lactating, etc. Pharmacy may also see some of these data points, but they will also see Creatinine Clearance as being emboldened — since this matters to them.

New EHR innovations make key clinical data easily available by streamlining workflows and navigation with fewer clicks. They also offer a common patient banner, which allows providers to focus on the work that matters most.

This goes well beyond just order entry and documentation, and allows providers to best manage everything – from patient access and engagement to clinical documentation as well as many administrative functions.

In addition, a core part of enhancing the continuum of care is delivering the insights providers need about their high-risk patients when they are not in the hospital – now possible with next-gen EHRs.

New cloud-based infrastructure also allows new EHRs to be more scalable and portable, so care providers can keep patient data secure and up-to-date – another arrow in the quiver of enhancing the full continuum of care. These new innovations offer more than 20 FHIR APIs, helping to provide the right patient data wherever and whenever it’s needed.

Continuity of care challenges are certainly not new in the healthcare arena – especially give the challenges that traditional EHRs have historically offered to providers and patients.

Thankfully, there are new EHRs that are more flexible and dynamic that can remove the administrative burden that HIT innovations have been causing for providers … paving the way to providing better care overall.