Making Improvements Post EHR Implementation

Once the effectiveness of the EHR has been properly evaluated, the office manager can begin to identify areas of opportunity to further optimize the operations of the practice. While there are a myriad of ways to increase EHR utilization, the following points represent examples as to how to achieve this:

Refresher training post EHR implementation
Electronic Health Records are similar to any other technology we use in that we are unsure if we are taking full advantage of all available features. There are many reasons why this may occur. First, during the first few weeks of use and training, users are typically focused on grasping the functionality of the system as opposed applying it in a meaningful manner. Secondly, once the user becomes accustomed to using the system in a way that appears adequate, it becomes difficult to change embedded routines. In order to mitigate these issues, it is beneficial to have the users go through refresher training courses in order to fully comprehend what EHR functions may have been overlooked or are not being utilized to their maximum degree. Refresher training is also beneficial for users who only use the system periodically or who are less knowledgeable of the system.

Establishing a “super user” who is proficient in using the EHR is a recommended industry practice. The super user is someone who has become proficient in the system and takes on the role of resident EHR expert assisting others in the practice come up to speed in a rapid manner. The super user is also the go-to person for system related questions as well as issues related to functionality and works as a mentor to new users entering the practice.

Enhanced Workflows post EHR Implementation
It is essential to evaluate both clinical and operational workflows after EHR implementation. Used properly and aligning staff roles with the new technology, the practice has the opportunity to maximize value and eliminate waste and redundancy.

All too often, staff will remain in their pre-EHR roles after EHR implementation. Redeploying staff to perform tasks to augment the use of an EHR should be explored. Even in a post-go live environment, the staff can enhance their ability to evaluate internal operations such as care management and streamlined processes .

An EHR driven staff realignment methodology can have a positive effect on productivity as well as cost and patient care. To leave the workflow in a paper-based state is to not take full advantage of all the performance improvement opportunities the EHR can offer.
Determining whether the practice has realized the benefits of an EHR optimized environment are visible by way of the following examples; some are more tangible than others:

  • Increase in staff productivity (i.e., less time spent looking for patients and other staff).
  • A noticeable improvement in the perception of the value of an EHR.
  • Reduced time spent reviewing patient charts after hours.
  • Ability to see more patients without extending hours.

Although the impact of these examples may vary from specialty to specialty, the practice will invariably experience a notable and positive change to both its clinical and non-clinical workflows.

This article post first appeared on Michael Crosnick’s blog, Mike on Healthcare.  Mike is an EHR Project Manager at Integrated Healthcare Solutions and a past Project Manager of PMO at Tenet Healthcare.