4 Steps to More Efficiently use your EHR
Everyone in your practice will play a role in the resourceful use of your electronic health record (EHR). Excellent communication, clear lines of authority, and a decision-making process promote best practices. Utilizing the software’s capabilities, training, work-flow, and communication will be key to your success.
Use the “Bells and Whistles”– Most EHR’s can customize the software to make it more useable. Repetitive phrases and tasks can be quickly completed with macro’s, templates, structured data, or shortcut keys. Utilize “favorite” lists or order sets for common orders and medication. Elect to sign documents electronically, instead of printing, signing, scanning. Using a larger monitor and/or a docking station will improve your documents and progress notes view. Although copy and paste functions are helpful in follow up for routine visits, use them prudently, CMS and other insurers consider this an audit risk. Physicians that are continually struggling with documentation and completing their notes, could consider using voice recognition software along with keyboard entry. Dragon, MModel, and Intelligent Medical Software have voice recognition tools that are specific to the medical field. Instead of “sticky notes” or scraps of paper use messaging systems that allow physicians and staff to communicate. “Business.org” recommends Google+ Hangouts, Jabber, and Spark. Reduce inbound and outbound phone calls by automating appointment reminders, normal test results, and notification of medication refills using your patient portal and/or voice/text message modules.
Cross training and Continued training – In this everchanging world of technology and incentive programs it is important to stay on top of software changes and enhancements. Cross-training staff so they can fill in for different providers and tasks leads to a smoother patient flow, less chaos, and fewer frustrations. The value of software training is often overlooked because of the time dedicated to the effort. Assess your staff’s current computer skill level to supply the most appropriate training. Most importantly remember, not everyone learns the same way. One important task that staff can assume is inputting historical patient documentation. Handing off some of this responsibility would enable providers to spend more time with patients and still have documentation completed in a reasonable time frame.
Workflow Re-design – Assessing your workflow is commonly overlooked as an issue of inefficiency. Staff will often default to the phrase “we’ve always done it this way”. Promoting change is difficult but will pay off in the long run. To garner support, involve the people who are using the workflow. Have them map out their current state workflow to help identify deficits. Knowing the current workflow is necessary to know how to improve or digitize the workflow. Actually mapping the workflow, on paper or a white board, will help to identify redundancies, increase accountability, and improve communication.
Communication – The ultimate key to efficiently using your EHR is to talk to your team. Search for manual processes that can be automated and explore current pain points. Designate and train Super Users in the clinical, clerical, and physician’s areas. Super Users will understand your EHR’s capabilities and determine how it can be used to streamline and improve paper-based or inefficient processes. Allow your Super Users work-time to hone their skills using webinars, product specific documentation, user groups, and exploration of the software. Super Users should meet regularly with Physicians and staff to discuss challenges, frustrations and possible solutions related to your EHR and workflow.
Using your EHR more efficiently can boost your productivity and may help you see a few more patients. Your EHR is a tool that can help you work smarter, not harder.
Kelly Bator, IT Analyst
Northern Physicians Organization