Capturing information is the most basic feature of an EHR. The next step is using and sharing that information to create more efficient processes, better clinical outcomes and financial ROI. Essentially every hospital, whether a recent EHR transition went well or not, must dedicate time and talent to process-related and other operational improvements.
The fact is, EHR design and customization is a process that is never finished. The changing state of the art, medical practice guidelines, changes in payment models and new federal and state regulations mean that EHRs and the workflow of users will continue to change. Your organization, regardless of how well or poorly your EHR was installed, will have to make sure the EHR is changing with it.
This is why so many hospitals are investing in optimization. Savvy CIOs know that their organization’s EHR will never be done.
Key factors in successful EHR optimization. One of the biggest problems for doctors and other clinicians is they feel new EHRs were dumped on them and haven’t been set up to mesh with how they work. The same holds true for so-called optimizations that don’t centrally involve the clinical team. EHR optimization planning and execution must cover key objectives:
- Achieving the basics: reliability, usability, security, privacy, training, and application support.
- Incorporating professional systems optimization project planning, design, and oversight. If the hospital IT staff does not include a project planner with such experience, the costs of hiring one are far less than the price of a failed optimization.
- Crafting a realistic budget that includes dedicated staff. It may be a hurdle to gain acceptance from senior leaders, but Phoenix will help you surmount it with a solid project plan that defines potential ROI and increased medical staff satisfaction.
- Redesigning workflow to improve efficiencies, continuity of care and the patient experience; eliminating gaps in care; and creating better outcomes, not just technology improvements.
- Involving physicians and nurses who are committed to the concept that IT can help them transform care and who want to make it happen.
- Ensuring interoperability—first, internally within and across your hospital’s systems and then externally among other providers, HIEs, and community-centered healthcare organizations.
- Quality assurance: A major factor in optimization must be development of operating and outcomes standards, plus monitoring, assessment and reporting. Without a documented future-focused quality assurance program, optimization efforts that may be needed as the healthcare environment changes can easily move to a back burner.
Phoenix’ experienced consultants are experts — not only in the information systems they support, but also the underlying business processes that drive them. Our optimization staff members have numerous years of in-hospital leadership and project management experience, and have resolved many optimization challenges for our clients.