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How EHR Optimization Can Help You See More Patients

JOHN O’KEEFE | March 2, 2018

How EHR Optimization Can Help You See More Patients

 

Contrary to popular belief, healthcare technologies like electronic health records (EHR) and Practice Management (PM) systems can’t succeed on autopilot. As I covered in a previous blog, practices must do EHR Optimization with installing regular upgrades, like NextGen 5.9/8.4 to stay current with the latest regulatory requirements, bug fixes, time-saving features and productivity enhancements.

Many practices don’t realize that it’s just as important to do ongoing system configuration and reconfiguration as practice workflows evolve. This process is commonly referred to as optimization. In this post, I’ll explain why EHR optimization is essential, and share tips for success.

Are We There Yet?

Practices are eager to reach a point where they don’t have to worry about their EHR and PM systems anymore. But when it comes to healthcare technology, it’s more beneficial to adopt a mindset of ongoing evolution and improvement.

Over the past decade, practices rushed to adopt EHR technology for Meaningful Use (MU), often without giving much thought to how it would impact daily operations. Today, many practices feel that their EHR is more of a hindrance than a benefit. This is usually not because of technological deficiencies. Rather, it’s because practices aren’t thinking strategically about how to use the system for better outcomes.

Healthcare is a dynamic industry. New clinical advancements drive changes in how we treat patients. The risk of a cyberattack is creating new cybersecurity approaches like protecting data in the cloud. New reimbursement models are forcing practices to rethink patient engagement and revenue cycle management.

The most successful practices don’t watch these trends from the sidelines. They actively evolve key processes to maximize the number of patients they see per day and the quality of care they deliver. And they understand that they must continually reconfigure the EHR to support workflow changes and improve clinical, financial and operational outcomes.

Rethinking Workflows

Since EHRs came on the scene, there has been widespread rethinking of how to evolve workflows to improve productivity. For some practices, this means getting doctors out of documentation, so they can focus on patients – for example, using voice-to-text scribe technology or having another person in the room to scribe during the patient encounter.  For others, it means establishing a patient portal, so exam rooms aren’t empty while doctors wait for patients to complete forms in the reception area.

Because technology has become an integral part of these business processes, it must be continually reconfigured to support changes as they occur. Many practices are suffering because they haven’t connected the dots on this. They believe that the EHR they set up 3 years ago should still be working fine today, but it isn’t because the environment around it has changed. Even if they do realize that the system is no longer in sync with their processes, they don’t know how to fix it.

 

There’s a Better Way

How can practices overcome this issue and increase success? The first step is to partner with an expert who is knowledgeable about healthcare workflows and technology optimization. The ideal partner will take time to assess your practice’s unique situation, then develop and implement a customized strategy across your entire medical system, tailored to your specific needs. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Here are some important things to look for in a partner:

  1. Find holistic expertise for your specific environment. Make sure the partner knows the exact technology in place at your practice and understands how to help you achieve workflow success.
  2. Select a reputable company with a proven track record. Ask for documented success with this type of a project and get customer names that you can talk with as a reference.
  3. Set specific goals for the project (for example, to see XX% more patients per day) and hold the partner accountable to these goals. If they won’t agree to a goal, then find someone else to work with.

When done thoughtfully and consistently, EHR and PM system optimization is an important tool to boost practice productivity and outcomes. At ITelagen, we have helped thousands of practices select, implement, configure and reconfigure their EHR/PM systems – and we have the results to prove it.

Contact us today for a free assessment of how our optimization services and expertise can help your practice see more patients and reach new levels of success.

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