For skilled nursing, long-term care, and senior living facilities, an electronic health record (EHR) system plays a vital part in their ability to offer comprehensive care to patients. These records are real-time digital maps of a patient’s medical history and treatment plans, and without proper care of the software managing this information, the quality of care for patients can be compromised.
A healthy EHR system promotes better clinical decision-making because it integrates important patient information from multiple sources. However, an EHR system is only as effective as an organization’s level of commitment to it. To fully reap the benefits of your EHR system investment, understand why, when, and how a system evaluation should become part of your best business practice.
Why You Should Evaluate Your EHR Software
Decrease Overhead Many organizations find themselves evaluating their EHR systems with one goal in mind - decreasing costs. While this is obviously important and certainly possible, there are many different factors that need to be considered before changes should occur. Be aware of your costs now and in the future, as well as any ancillary expenses that may be required for ongoing training or data storage.
Process Improvement As providers are continually expected to do more with less, they need to work smarter and not harder. A system evaluation provides the perfect opportunity to uncover ways that processes could become more standardized and systematic. With automation comes fewer errors, reduced redundancies, and increased efficiency.
Uphold Compliance Regardless of which EHR system an organization uses, it must be compliant with industry standards such as HIPAA, requiring sensitive patient information to be kept private and secure. Verify that your EHR system is certified and up-to-date with new regulations, and audit all user accounts to verify access levels are limited to the appropriate personnel. Any generic or group accounts should be disabled within the system.
Post Implementation If your organization has recently implemented a new EHR system, an evaluation should be conducted 2-4 weeks after the new system has gone live. This should be adequate time to determine whether the software was integrated as planned, and whether the staff has successfully adapted to the change.
Quarterly and Annually Many EHR systems offer built-in scorecards that provide valuable insight into clinical, financial, and operational performance in comparison to industry peers. This information is beneficial to review on a quarterly basis, while a more thorough analysis detailing the effectiveness of your EHR system and its workflows should be performed annually.
Employee Turnover Given the industry’s existing turnover, you may want to consider an EHR health check when key personnel changes occur – especially if it impacts your ability to conduct training. Systems can be underutilized when users are not properly trained, which can also lead to widespread frustration and increased errors.
How to Evaluate Your EHR Software
Revisit Your Contract The first step in the evaluation process is a review of the current contract with your EHR software provider. If this is not easily accessible internally, contact your provider directly and request a copy. You will want to pay particular attention to any integrations or services you are paying extra for. Were you aware of all the solutions you already have, and are they being utilized?
Leverage Your EHR Account Representative Every organization should designate one individual primary responsibility for the maintenance of its EHR system, and that person should keep in regular contact with the EHR system’s account representative. If that relationship does not yet exist, start building it now. Note that there may be different representatives for sales inquiries than there may be for customer service, so be sure to communicate the right questions to the right parties. Systems such as PointClickCare® offer more than 100 different integrations (pharmacy, therapy, financial, etc.), so ask your representative to help you assess which functions are the best fit for your organization.
Seek Input from End Users While your system’s scorecard provides quantitative performance data, it is equally important to obtain qualitative feedback from the individuals responsible for inputting data. This is necessary even before an organization implements an EHR system. While that purchase decision typically lies with an owner or operator, this decision should never be made alone. If a new system is implemented with no consideration for the end-users, adoption could be problematic – making the entire investment a waste of valuable resources. Ongoing input from end-users is instrumental in ensuring the software continues to accomplish the right tasks in the most efficient manner, and that it is user-friendly enough to be appreciated.
With a dedicated team of certified EHR trainers and implementers holding 20+ years of experience, Richter can help your organization increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability by leveraging the power of your EHR.