Yes, you have accomplished something. Congratulations! But your mission to get the most benefits from your new EHR is not finished, and unfortunately, many organizations never get very far past this stage. Here’s why.
First, organizations can suffer from “perfection paralysis” at go-live. They get fixated on trying to make sure everything they ever wanted is implemented. This creates a long and sometimes unrealistic set of expectations about what constitutes “success.”
Second, there is the mistaken notion that an installed EHR is a static EHR. But your EHR is a dynamic entity, much like your organization. It should be constantly evolving, as you adapt to the changing needs of the communities you serve, compliance issues, billing requirements and best practices for treatment. You simply can’t keep up if your EHR stays the same or staff members aren’t making full use of your EHR’s functionality.
To get the best return on your investment in your EHR, I suggest you reconceptualize the EHR from a static documentation tool to a dynamic and central part of your strategic toolbox. You should also make room in your strategic plan and your budget to work with your EHR vendor on optimizing your EHR.
Here are four ways how your organization will benefit.
- Adapt quickly to new regulations and requirements
Even minor reporting changes can require adjusting workflows and data feeds. Otherwise, clinicians and administrators end up using workarounds to get the necessary information, which is frustrating and time-consuming. For new billing requirements, delays in adjusting can mean serious consequences for your bottom line. Your vendor can make modifications quickly, working with your IT staff and system administrators to minimize disruption to your staff and consumers.
- Reduce costs without compromising care
As your organization matures in its EHR use, you can make more advanced functionality available to your staff. Your EHR vendor can help you prioritize areas to optimize, such as automating standard processes, digitizing workflows to eliminate double data entry, simplifying access to information at the point of care and speeding up billing. Less time spent on documentation means clinicians can concentrate on providing care for the communities you serve. Administrators and program managers can focus on strategic planning as well as day-to-day operations.
- Keep everyone current
It’s not enough that your EHR has all the bells and whistles to digitize charts, automate processes, simplify billing and handle other tasks. Your staff has to be completely comfortable with using the functionality and adapt as it changes. We know adult learning is not a one-time event so plan for ongoing education. Ongoing training helps staff members fully understand how to use the technology, reducing turnover and frustration. Providing this additional support also demonstrates the full commitment of your organization’s leaders to using technology as a means to redesign and improve processes.
- Improve consumer satisfaction
As you increase the functionality of your EHR, consumers will notice. Check-in is faster and privacy increased as front-desk personnel have access to appointment times and other information. Consumers don’t have to repeat their symptoms because clinical notes are available to authorized care providers throughout your organization. Overall, treatment at your facilities becomes a better experience and with increased satisfaction comes improved treatment adherence and positive word-of-mouth advertising.
As a CEO of non-profit organizations for 17 years, I understand how tight budgets are and how difficult it can be to justify spending on services. But I urge you to rethink how you view the role of the EHR strategically and to look at the funds spent on continual optimization of your EHR not as expenses but as an investment − in your staff, in technology you’ve already purchased and in the future of your organization.
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