Without These 5 Essentials Your EHR Experience Could Be Scary :O
Walk down almost any street on Halloween and you’ll be greeted by scores of people dressed in costumes. The outward appearance of these revelers is very different from what you find once the mask comes off. The same can happen when you see an EHR demonstration. There are so many things to focus on during the demo that you might be distracted from the most important points. Is it usable? Can it accommodate different workflow styles and data capture needs? And, can it be implemented without sacrificing practice-wide productivity? Although extras bells and whistles can make impressive costumes, they won’t guarantee EHR success.
How do you know if an EHR is a Trick or a Treat?
1. Things that go click, click, click in the night. The number of clicks it takes to perform basic functions—such as submitting electronic prescriptions, reviewing basic chart information, or documenting patient exams—is crucial when selecting an EHR system. If the system requires numerous clicks in order to navigate the software and enter clinical information during the patient encounter, and toggle back and forth between applications then the EHR will significantly decrease physician and practice productivity, negatively impacting both revenue generation and patient care.
2. The legend of one size fits all. The EHR should be flexible enough to serve your specialty, and your unique style of practicing medicine. Your EHR shouldn’t dictate your workflow, rather it should be flexible enough to accommodate many styles, and data capture goals. Knowing how, when, where, and by whom data is entered into the EHR is critical. If the EHR does not provide the flexibility to adapt to and help you improve your current process, then it may not be the right EHR for you.
3. Losing your way in a house of horrors. We’ve all heard EHR template horror stories about going through a long data input maze only to learn that you missed something and can’t escape without losing all of your work. Rather than suffering the same fate, ask references how flexible and easy the system is to use, and how many hours it took them to become confident with the system. If the other users quote an excessive number of training hours or your staff has trouble learning the software during a demonstration, the system is most likely not usable and therefore will be difficult to implement, and never be fully integrated into your practice.
4. Alternate realities. Other applications and office technologies should easily integrate into the EHR and be viewable within the same screen. There should be little to no toggling back and forth between application realities—it is inefficient, wastes time, and resources.
5. Recurring nightmares. Navigating, entering data, and generating reports in the EHR should be quick and easy. Diagnostic test results and transcriptions should automatically route into each patient’s digital record. Every paper process (or automated process if you currently have an EHR) that exists in your practice should be replaced by a superior automated process that frees up the physicians’ and staff’s time and allows them to focus their attention on patients.
Avoid these monsters—ensure all physicians and practice staff are included in the selection process—workflow, data requirement, and training time vary among the different departments and staff members. Remember, the EHR you purchase should enhance efficiency, workflow, and productivity throughout the practice. If it doesn’t, then it will not deliver all the benefits that “the right” EHR could bring to your practice. You might even consider your EHR a treat 😀