How to improve your experience with EHRs

How to improve your experience with EHRs

A recent survey revealed that physician satisfaction rates for electronic health records (EHRs) have waned by almost half from 2010 to 2014. But the survey also found that EHR satisfaction improves over time with the right system.

"The use of any EHR takes time and practice."

The survey, conducted by AmericanEHR Partners—an online resource for buying and using EHRs—and the American Medical Association (AMA) found that in 2014, just 34 percent of physicians said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their EHR system, compared with 62 percent in 2010.

Of physicians who had used their EHR system for three years or less, only 25 percent reported any degree of satisfaction, compared with a 50 percent satisfaction rate for physicians who had been working with their EHR for five or more years.

Making EHRs work for your practice
Jeffrey C. Michaels, O.D., chair of the AOA Quality Improvement and Registries Committee, stresses that the use of any EHR takes time and practice. His office is on its second EHR system.

He provides these practical tips for making EHRs work for your practice:

  • Customize your EHR to your needs. Learning how to modify your EHR to your preferences can enhance the "out-of-the-box" version of EHR systems. Dr. Michaels' practice learned how to customize it, and that helped save a lot of time with every patient. "Because of the customization, I can do an exam in the same time, or less, compared to when I used a paper chart," he says.

  • Take advantage of training opportunities. When getting started, sign up and pay for the user training that is available with your EHR. Don't try to learn it on your own. That long learning curve will frustrate you and your staff—especially when you find out there were easier ways to use the product than you had initially thought. If your EHR vendor schedules a user conference, make sure your doctors and staff attend.

Scott Jens, O.D., an EHR vendor CEO, adds that because EHRs are intended to improve the clinical process, staff should be adequately trained on the technology and its functionality.  

"In the end, EHR systems provide much more structured data management than paper records, and to support that structure it is necessary to input the data in very purposeful manners. If that means utilization of clinic personnel as scribes, which were also used in paper recordkeeping, optimize those staff to create a concierge-like experience for a patient to create high patient satisfaction," he says.  

EHRs offer ICD-10 advantages
With ICD-10 implementation around the corner, EHRs may play a critical role in the effective transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.  

The EHR system at Dr. Michaels' practice has been proactively pre-programming to accommodate ICD-10 needs and educating users through webinars and other training.  

Many providers are expecting their EHRs to magically do the work, but ultimately, it's the doctor's responsibility to digest and document the visit into data, Dr. Jens adds.

August 25, 2015

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