One Size Does Not Fit All: Personalized EHRs Support Healthcare Transformation

By Ashley Lee, Program Manager, Juno Health
LinkedIn: Ashley Lee
LinkedIn: Juno Health

Everyone involved in healthcare knows that achieving greater efficiency in work processes is critical for reducing costs and improving the quality of patient care. However, legacy electronic healthcare record (EHR) technology is holding back such a transformation. Designed by developers without an understanding of healthcare work processes, they create inefficiencies that cause frustration to clinicians and the executive suite alike.

Personalization options from the next generation of EHRs offer a way forward. A recent KLAS report highlighted how the ability to personalize documentation methods caused doctor satisfaction with EHRs to increase significantly. This is critical, because when doctors become frustrated with legacy EHRs they often revert back to paper records, leading to inefficiency and higher costs.

When EHR personalization is not an option, healthcare facilities need to rely on a software vendor to achieve these capabilities. This inefficient and lengthy process involves submitting a ticket and enduring potentially lengthy delays, ranging from days to even months – particularly if users need to wait until the next software release.

On top of this, even when personalization features are available, they can be excessively difficult to manage. For example, legacy EHR vendors often require specific certifications for utilizing their personalization tools. As a result, care organizations frequently need to hire certified professionals solely to execute these modifications – causing greater expense and delays.

A key personalization option is the ability to customize department workflows. In healthcare today, every role, every different department, different specialty, and different patient population have different workflows. Newer EHRs allow facilities to build their workflows. For example, caregivers can put their documentation templates where they want them, in the order they want them, in whatever format they desire. So individualized workflows can be created.

These workflows can be tailored, and they can be specific to the caregiver. One day, a doctor or nurse might work in the ICU and have one workflow, and then another day, they could be working in PEDs and using a different workflow customized for that specialty. These workflows reflect different needs in terms of access to types of information and/or types of documentation.

A major trend in the industry right now is the move towards ‘low-code, no-code.’ This concept aligns closely with where next-generation EHRs are heading. Essentially, it minimizes the need for extensive development once the EHR is operational. Whether it’s adjusting workflows, modifying documentation, or updating splash screens, these changes are configurable rather than requiring significant development efforts.

Modern, more flexible EHRs benefit not just caregivers but also the entire facility. Different EHR personalization features can improve the facility’s overall efficiency. The ability to create templates, macros, and shortcuts is helpful for documentation, while other personalization tools can help with data-sharing retrieval. Simply putting the right information in the right place at the right time delivers more efficient outcomes that serve both patients and the business of care.

For example, more efficient data sharing leads to shorter hospital stays. This is obviously good for patients and for the organization, both because they can serve other patients faster and their HCAHPS scores will probably improve as well. After all, no one wants to be in the hospital longer than necessary, and delays due to poor information sharing can be especially irritating to patients.

The same process works for faster discharges, an area where many patients experience delays. More flexible EHRs can also save hospitals money by reducing the hours needed for various support contracts, such as IT and training requirements. Making needed changes on the fly makes hospitals nimbler and more responsive to patient needs.

The benefits of next-generation EHRs are as dramatic as the transition from MS-DOS to Windows in the early days of personal computing. What was once complicated and code-driven now offers healthcare professionals intuitive, user-friendly personalization tools that simplify the process into a drag-and-drop interface that is accessible to all.

“One-size-fits-all” EHRs have held healthcare back. Understanding the specific ways EHR pain points hamper the bottom line can help clarify how new EHR technology will unlock healthcare efficiency and care quality.