There are a variety of reasons that EHR systems have become more prominent in recent years, including regulatory requirements which prompted compliance. The purpose of the adoption is to provide a way to improve quality care and efficiency for physicians, healthcare organizations, and patients. At this point, more than 90 percent of healthcare organizations use EHR systems.
EHR solutions boast several advantages, such as up-to-date information at point of care, improved patient communication, streamlined sharing of records among providers, and a reduction in medical errors. On the surface, all of this is, of course, positive. The problem is that many organizations still struggle to use all the tools at their disposal to make these solutions as efficient and productive as they can be.
An article written in 2020, named EHR burden as one of the leading causes of burnout among clinicians. This was due to complications in using some EHR technology and an overly long process which caused many physicians to spend a great deal more of their time in EHR management than they would prefer. This situation is not ideal. It takes time away from patient care and can be improved.
In this post, we’ll discuss EHR and how to improve your charting process to boost patient productivity. In this way, organizations can use their systems most effectively to eliminate the negative impact and reap the full benefits of the solution.
What Is EHR and EMR?
The terms EHR and EMR are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. EHR stands for Electronic Health Records and are often used to describe the software used to manage patient information and other aspects of the practice needs, such as population health, billing and payment information, and prescription data.
For the patient, an EHR is an entire health history, which allows providers to see the whole picture of the patient’s health in one convenient place. An EMR is an electronic medical record. This is essentially an electronic version of a chart and may only include information from a single visit or from a series of visits to ONE provider. The main difference between an EHR solution and an EMR is that the EHR can be available to any authorized provider and include a more complete look at the individual patient, as well as a more efficient way to share information.
How to Efficiently Improve Your EHR Charting Process
The first thing to consider when setting a goal to improve charting in your organization is the type of software that you’re using. What are the pain points and where are you finding that the process should be more efficient?
Once you decipher where the process is lacking, you can look at your solution to see if there are ways to improve the process. For instance, is your organization using all of the tools available? Is there are way that you might be able to improve the process internally? Is it a software that is user-friendly and beneficial for the type of organization and workflow?
In some cases, it may be that there’s a better solution that would fit the type of organization and workflow much better. But there is always a chance that you’re not using the solution to the full extent that you can. Here are some tips to improve efficiency overall:
Schedule and Invest in Training
Often when an organization is not getting the most out of EHR it’s because everyone on the team isn’t as proficient with the technology as they should be. Scheduling regular training opportunities to update and increase skills can be an excellent way to help staff gain confidence, become more comfortable, and increase productivity.
Analyze Your Workflow for Improvement
If you look over the way the process is currently conducted, you’ll often find areas that can be improved by changing the way it’s handled. For instance, physicians may be jotting notes during visits but then inputting them later, essentially taking twice as much time for the charting process. This might be streamlined if physicians could use the solution conveniently during the visit or by offering other options in devices, such as an iPad or phone app.
Enlist Help in Charting
For physicians who find that updating the EHR interferes with patient care, hiring a scribe or assigning a team member to handle the charting aspect of the visit can be an excellent way to maintain records without compromising care or taxing the physicians with extra work
Let the Patients Help
Patient portals and options to allow patients to check themselves in can be convenient for the patient while helping the organization gain accurate information with less investment of time.
How We Can Boost Physician Productivity
Many physicians are more and more comfortable with EHR solutions as they’ve become essential. However, some pain points still exist. Many physicians spend more hours working with the EHR solution than they do with actual patients. A big reason for that is that organizations are using antiquated workstations.
For physicians, it’s ideal to have training options so that they can master the EHR solution without getting frustrated by the technology. It’s also ideal if the software is available on several devices so that the physician doesn’t need to block out time to sit at a desktop to chart. Instead, they can take care of their charting during visits or downtime from their own phone or an iPad that can move with them.
Top Ways to Improve EHR Productivity
When it comes to productivity, the solutions will be as unique as the organization. By analyzing the areas where your organization falls behind in efficiency, you can develop a list of things that need to be improved and develop a strategy to hit those goals.
For instance, if one issue is a great deal of physician time being spent on charting, your solution might be to add scribes who are more cost effective and often faster because they’re proficient with the software and only concentrate on charting. You might also add multiple staff members to charting to take the burden from physicians.
If one pain point is that there are many errors or technical difficulties, the solution might be more training hours for staff or a vendor with more hands-on support for your staff.
- More than 90 percent of healthcare organizations use EHR
- Some benefits to EHR include up-to-date information at point of care, improved patient communication, and a reduction in medical errors
- EHR burden has been cited as one of the causes for burnout among providers
- Many physicians spend more hours working with the EHR solution than they do with actual patients
- By analyzing your process and solution, you can develop more productive workflows to use your EHR efficiently