10 EHR best practices

Over the past two years, Medical Economics followed a group of 29 physicians from across the United States as they went through the process of adopting an electronic health record (EHR) system. And from the study’s findings, a lengthy list of best practices emerged.

In light of the complexity and the numerous challenges practices face during the EHR adoption process, the following practical tips can help alleviate some of the stress and prevent missteps along the way. The insights that were gained from the study cover three stages of EHR adoption — pre-implementation, implementation (also known as the “go live” stage), and post-implementation or ongoing usage.

To sum up the study’s findings, here are 10 EHR best practices you can apply to your own practice:

Pre-implementation

1. Test different EHR systems to determine which one best matches your practice’s needs.
Do your research up front. Consider the functionality and level of customization your practice needs, but also keep in mind that no system will be a perfect fit.

2. Plan for unexpected costs and a drop in productivity.
In addition to the expense of purchasing the EHR system, practices incur, on average, more than $10,800 in out-of-pocket expenses during the implementation process. You can also expect a 30 to 50 percent drop in productivity during the first three months after the EHR goes live.

3. Make training a priority.
The research showed that primary care teams required an average of 52.5 hours of training, and physicians received an average of 23.9 hours of training. Establish specific times for training the staff, but especially in-person, hands-on instruction, which was found to be the most effective.

“Go live” stage

4. Assess potential workflow changes and bring on additional staff as needed.
Review your current daily processes in the office and identify where the EHR system will require changes to that workflow. For instance, in order to scan paper charts or manually enter patient information, you’ll have to account for staff overtime or bring in additional help.

5. Start off on the right foot.
Build in time for a test run prior to your go-live date. Some physicians have Und tatsachlich kommt mit “Xtra Hot™” ein weiterer Klassiker auf den Monitor, denn der Online Spielautomat gehort zur Familie der Fruits book-of-ra-kostenlos.com slots, was ebenfalls einer Verpflichtung gleichkommt. found it helpful to go live on a Friday, which gave them the four weekdays prior to complete last-minute prep, and then the weekend afterward to assess and make adjustments before the first patient’s appointment on Monday morning.

6. Educate your patients.
Post signs about the practice’s impending transition to the EHR system throughout the office to not only inform your patients, but also request their patience going forward. Assign a staff member to assist with new check-in processes during the go-live stage, and you should also provide your patients with written instructions for how to access and use online portals.

7. Tap into technology.
Make use of the system’s technology by customizing templates and turning on the scheduling features. Rely on your vendor and on-site tech support — either provided by your EHR vendor or contracted from a third-party company — to help you work through whatever issues come up.

Post-implementation usage

8. Work to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.
Track quality measures — many vendors offer a dashboard capability — and investigate interoperability, perhaps through a health information exchange or small network of local providers. Keep track of all documentation in case of an audit.

9. Engage patients.
Be conscious of how you use the EHR system during patient visits. Research from Northwestern University found that physicians spend one-third of their time looking at patients’ EHR on the computer screen, while physicians using paper charts spend only 9 percent of their time looking at them. Also, help patients understand the benefits of the patient portal as a way to encourage their use of it.

10. Evaluate progress.
Assess patient satisfaction via a short survey and analyze processes to gauge the system’s impact on productivity. Based on the results, adjust workflow and address any issues with a commitment to ongoing improvement.

No matter which stage of the EHR adoption process your office is currently in, incorporating one or more of these best practices will help your practice find greater success and experience a smoother transition.

 

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