EHRs are expected to improve the quality and efficiency of care delivery by, among other things, giving physicians more time to explain diagnoses and treatments and address patient concerns. However, physicians are largely unsatisfied with their practice’s EHR service.
According to a study conducted by AmericanEHR and AMA, nearly 40 percent of physicians would not recommend their EHR system to another provider and many said they would not purchase the same software again.
To avoid a similar disconnect and get the most out of your EHR solution, be sure to carefully consider how the EHR would be used on a daily basis in your practice, the available product features, and how various vendors deal with implementation and training.
First, decide what you do and do not need.
Before you get overwhelmed with all the options available to you, think about the problems you would like an EHR service to solve and develop your list of criteria. Have all doctors and key staff write down the key functions they want the software to do, and then prioritize your top needs.
A few necessities you won’t want to gloss over include:
- Comprehensive data conversions – since data is one of your most valuable assets, it’s important that the EHR system you choose can easily transfer data.
- ICD-10 and EDI compliance – be sure the EHR service is ICD-10 compliant as of Oct. 1, 2015 and includes an easy-to-use selection tool. The software should be approved and certified by most major insurance companies and clearinghouses and be able to submit EDI claims in HIPAA-compliant formats.
- Medical billing service – busy practices may need an included medical billing service with a dedicated expert to help with analysis, planning, insurance billing, claim editing, auditing, posting and reports.
Put your EHR to work for you.
The EHR system you select should ultimately make your processes easier, not harder. There are many features available to help streamline your practice. Here are a few areas to consider:
- The system software should be updated to include new meaningful use standards and related workflow changes.
- Be sure the system is compatible with the clinical content – such as checklists, documents and tools – that support your practice.
- EHRs provide various view options for charts and summary screens for patient data. Find one that supports the information most important to you.
- Automate items like health maintenance recommendations by looking for an EHR that will display care standards based on patient age, sex, diagnosis and previous treatments.
- Your EHR software should be able to track patient referrals up to and including the receipt of the referral clinical report.
- Be sure your EHR can send patient information, including clinical summaries, reminders and results, to a patient portal and supports communication between doctors and patients and provide immediate patient access to care information.
- The more information you can record in your EHR, the better. Your system should be able to record patient limitations on distribution of protected health information (PHI), as well as document when information is distributed.
Ask the right questions.
You’ve outlined the problems your EHR should solve and narrowed down your must-have features. It’s time to pick a vendor. Look for a vendor whose help desk is staffed by people with the knowledge and expertise to identify and address problems common to your type of practice. Be sure that the vendor offers reliable customer support so that when issues arise – which they will – you’ll have the ongoing technical support you need.
Some questions to consider asking potential vendors include:
- Are training and support provided on how to satisfy objectives and measures, with the results documented?
- Does the training include online videos and materials that can be accessed at any time?
- Are further support and guidance available when needed?