EHRs systems are the future of healthcare. They are the bridge between patient, doctor, patient info, medication prescription and pretty much all facets of caregiving. This is why, when choosing an EHR system, it’s important to make sure that the software is well organized, meets your needs and fits into your existing workflow. A pre-existing, off-the-shelf EHR system is not going to be the one-size-fits-all solution you want and while the software may work on a basic level, the eventual costs of an EHR that doesn’t suit your needs is going to be high. An ill-suited EHR can lead to pushback from frustrated staff, loss of efficiency, reduced productivity and disruption of revenue.
The needs and workflow of medical professionals and practices can vary widely even within the same medical field. This is why the best option for them is an EHR that is created with customizable templates, which are existing “draft” forms, and workflows that are built to the needs of your medical field. Typically, the templates are not meant to be used as-is, but to be validated and finalized per the specific needs of your practice.
From talking with prospects and clients, we found that many practices rely on someone in their practice to build or customize the forms and workflows, based on the templates delivered with the system. This is not a bad idea, if your practice has software savvy resources or access to a dedicated and experienced IT staff. The skill set, time and human resources needed to build effective forms and workflows may be present in your practice, but these resources should also understand how the EHR will be used. Personnel who do not interact with or have hands-on experience in certain parts of running the practice may not understand the needs of other users. For example, a front office staff may not know how to schedule a specific test for a physician. If your practice has more than one specialty, physicians versed in one specialty may not be familiar with the requirements of the other. For instance, a psychiatrist would not need to deal with the modules that were built for an ENT.
Ensuring that the EHR you choose has strong customization tools that do not require specialized technical skills and draft templates, will help your practice have a successful implementation. Your EHR should make it easy for you to implement custom-built forms and workflows which can be maintained by your staff and would reduce your dependency on the EHR vendor. As you might have noticed by now, we think that customizable forms and workflows are one of the most important aspects of an EHR.
The first step to proper EHR customization is to determine which diagnoses your practice makes most frequently. Ideally, you should perform this step before choosing an EHR vendor, so that you can ensure the software has the capability to do what you want. This also saves you from time spent “window shopping” and looking at vendors who aren’t the right fit for you.
The second step is to have your practice manager generate an ICD-10 frequency report. You can use the report to determine which selections you will need to prioritize. This will ensure all the options are easily available and as mentioned above, the provider will not have to waste valuable time hunting around for the correct selection.
Now onto customization: while forms and workflows allow for timesaving features, some shortcuts can encourage risky record-keeping habits. EHRs can pull notes from previous visits and place them into the form automatically. This is useful in reducing repetitive actions, such as filling out a patient’s info on multiple forms. However, this can cause problems if the notes are not reviewed during each visit. After repeated visits, the generated encounter forms could contain a long list of information that is not reader-friendly and takes more time to review. The notes may also have data that no longer applies to the patient and could leave the practice at risk if an audit is performed.
Ideally, an EHR charting system should read similar to a handwritten note. Only the most relevant information should be displayed by default, with background data readily available within a click or two.
[ Read More: The Pros and Cons of Customizing Your EHR ]
EHR customization is the primary means to successful EHR usage. When the EHR is customized to fit your particular field and practice, you can maximize your return on investment and minimize the risk to patients and your bottom line. Here is a set of customization questions to add to your EHR evaluation list.
Our software, blueEHR, has been adopted by numerous types of practices and specialties and has built a large library of forms and templates. blueEHRs cloud-based solution has robust customization features that allows your staff to customize your EHR and make it unique to your practice. If you think customization is what you need, let’s have a chat!