Despite the turn of the calendar into a brand-new year, the world is still grappling with a pandemic that refuses to go away. Long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) providers are entering 2022 during an onslaught of Omicron variant cases and a staffing shortage that shows no end in sight.
As an LTPAC provider, time is a luxury you just don’t have. Yet you may find that taking some time to focus on your electronic health records (EHR) system may improve the health and outlook of your organization in significant ways.
We’ve outlined three key actions you can take to make the most of your EHR and set your entire organization up for success in 2022.
1. Fit your EHR software to your organization’s needs
The success of your EHR is evident in staff usage, or lack thereof. You want your employees to use the system – properly – which means that it must be both easy to use and well-planned according to the particulars of your facility.
Proper usage starts with data. The vast amounts of clinical and financial information that your facility collects and stores can be used in many ways to improve both operations and resident care. Data can be entered so that it is input once and disseminated to all applicable systems, saving time and redundancies. Data pulled into reports and analytics can provide insights into your operations and help you to measure performance, set goals and prompt effective decision-making. Data can also facilitate your annual state-mandated reports or make or break an audit in which surveyors are looking for the information within your various processes to match.
Data is only useful, however, if entered correctly and set up in a way that corresponds to your facility’s workflows. Proper setup requires planning and investing time at the front end to map out your EHR requirements. Review your EHR software, look at the available check boxes and preset pick lists that you can utilize for your data entry. You can also implement user-defined fields to segment your database according to your business and turn off any unnecessary data fields.
Most EHR software allows for some level of customization, but you can have too much of a good thing. Over-customizing your data entry process or giving staff the ability to customize can lead to a convoluted database and hamper your ability to pull reports or produce meaningful analytics.
2. Plan your EHR team
A large portion of a successful setup is assembling a capable EHR team. Although your facility is likely struggling to maintain adequate staffing, it’s imperative that you identify multiple stakeholders – clinical and financial – to administer your EHR. If responsibility for the software is concentrated in one individual, your EHR will flounder when that person inevitably calls in sick or leaves your organization.
Your EHR team should play an integral part in setting up the system so that it is intuitive and functions in a way that reduces unnecessary time spent by your staff. On an ongoing basis, your EHR team should be responsible for a number of tasks, including training and ensuring comprehension of the software, determining roles and limiting access levels and monitoring daily operations. This last point is where your EHR can make a significant organizational contribution.
Most EHR software includes a dashboard or portal that can serve as a valuable management tool. Such dashboards show scheduled, in progress and overdue tasks. They can alert management to areas that are lacking and problems that could potentially be resolved prior to a survey team’s arrival. They highlight issues with data entry and with your staff, including identifying employees who need additional training or who are struggling to complete work.
Your EHR software should be having a positive impact on your facility’s operations. The key is to establish a team of individuals trained on the system who have a vested interest in the success of your EHR and in effectively leveraging all of its capabilities.
3. Periodically review your EHR
Generally speaking, systems require updates; and your EHR is no exception. It requires periodic review to ensure that it is still functioning the way in which your facility requires.
At least annually it is important to conduct an evaluation that includes questions such as:
Is data being entered accurately or are there redundancies?
Are the reports being generated still meaningful?
Are users set up with appropriate security roles?
Is adequate training available for staff?
Are there any holes in the system that require resolution?
Are we staying up-to-date with software newsletters and new functionality?
Is our EHR software still meeting our facility’s needs?
An EHR system can be a valuable tool with the potential to streamline operations and improve your facility’s balance sheet as well as to enhance patient outcomes. However, realizing all the benefits of an EHR requires time and resources, which you may have in short supply. An EHR optimization partner can provide the support you need to realize your EHR’s full potential.
Contact Richter’s EHR Consultants
Richter has extensive EHR experience and can help your organization select and implement EHR software as well as come in at any point to analyze your system, make sure it’s meeting your needs and advise you on ways to improve it.
If you would like to learn more about our EHR immplementation services and how we can help you enhance EHR outcomes for your organization, please call us at 866-806-0799 for a free initial consultation. You can also learn more about us by visiting https://www.richterhc.com.