Over the last few years, a growing number of doctors have expressed dissatisfaction about the results of adopting Electronic Health Records (EHR) software. While the administrative and organizational benefits of moving from pen and paper to computer technology are clear, many practitioners feel that the use of EHR technology has brought with it its own set of complications, such as a reduction in quality time spent with the patient. The common perception is that doctors are spending valuable time looking at a computer screen instead of engaging with their patients. Of course, doctors’ concerns are legitimate and must be addressed by the medical industry, federal regulators, and EHR manufacturers alike.
Increase Patient Engagement Using Telemedicine
Through patient portals and a combination of mobile applications, text messaging, email, and video calling, also known as telemedicine, the patient, and clinical staff can communicate outside the physical and traditional working hours of the medical clinic. Telemedicine EHR solutions extend the functions and connectivity of your practice’s EHR software using integrated mobile applications.
Patient portals connect to patients with practices using internet-enabled devices, such as tablets, smartphones, PCs or Macs. Through the online patient portal, the patient can send messages to the clinic and receive appointment reminders, electronic statements, and lab results. Forms can be completed online prior to appointments.
Telemedicine extends patients’ access further and allows them to receive medical treatment via phone, text, email, and video calling. This gives patients broader access to medical care at a reduced cost to the provider, who can conduct a patient appointment through a simple video call. This expanded access gives doctors a unique opportunity to treat patients with limited mobility or who are located in underserved rural areas.
With patient portals and telemedicine mobile apps integrated into the EHR software, doctors and patients can communicate without the traditional time constraints that come with running a medical practice. Physicians have a greater opportunity to engage with their patients, and patients can get the care they need when they need it.
How To Increase The Efficiency of EHR Technology
Doctors can increase efficiency as well as patient engagement without adopting another new technology, which could potentially add another layer of cost to the process. Consider the following training video, which highlights the importance of giving patients the appropriate level of attention, while at the same time entering encounter data into the EHR.
An article by Jeff Butler of the Harvard Business Review, titled “How to Make Electronic Health Records an Asset Instead of a Burden,” has some interesting perspectives on how EHR use could be streamlined for the benefit of the practitioner and the patient. Jeff writes the following:
“For an EHR to become a tool for physician engagement, it needs to wick away work from physicians so they can focus on patients. This means, for starters, moving administrative work to centralized back-office service teams where it can be automated or executed at scale…tasks such as the recording of patient medications and the fulfillment of other quality requirements can be flagged for clinical staff to complete before the patient enters the exam room. This frees up the physician to focus more fully on the patient instead of the computer.”
All EHR Systems Were Not Created Equal
It’s important to remember that the marketplace for EHR software provides you, the doctor with a variety of options. Often manufacturers will help you to switch from your previous EHR at a discounted rate.
Researching the EHR company and its offerings are extremely important especially with regard to federal programs like the Quality Payment Program (QPP), the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Beginning January 1, 2018, it will be mandatory to use a 2015 MACRA-certified EHR product in order to meet your reporting requirements.
In an article written by Barbara Aung, DPM, for Podiatry Today, the author discusses the best practices for choosing a new Podiatry EHR:
“Does the EHR company help me successfully participate in MIPS by having features such as a built-in MIPS composite score and benchmarking reports that will document my performance in real time? Does the EHR system offer patient engagement tools such as a patient portal and kiosk without additional costs? Can the EHR vendor provide resources, advice or coaching regarding this data collection process?”
She also asks her audience (podiatrists) to consider whether the EHR will have podiatry-related features. Considering what level of support your practice will have with regard to your medical specialty is very important. Whether you’re seeking a podiatry EHR, psychiatry EHR, or an occupational medicine EHR, the manufacturer should be able to provide templates, workflows, and content that streamline your practice’s activities and enhance your patient engagement.
PrognoCIS EHR Click-Saving Features Save Valuable Administrative Time
As an EHR manufacturer, we know that every second of your time is important. We are constantly working to help you optimize practice efficiency and save time with new features, such as patient/employer portals, customized ICD-10 codes, and interfaces with medical hardware (Health-O-Meter, ProBP Blood Pressure Reader, Depisteo Vision Screener, and more).
Along with these features, PrognoCIS EHR is fully integrated with Practice Management software. PrognoCIS also offers a Revenue Cycle Management suite with dedicated account managers and medical billers who can help reduce the heavy workload that medical billing can put on private practices.
Use Your EHR To Your Advantage For Better Patient Care
Whatever EHR software you choose, the idea is to use it as a tool to improve patient care. The potential to track how medical services are being used brings your practice a level of accountability that can, in turn, improve your practice’s strategy and lead to greater profitability.
It will benefit your practice, in the long run, to evaluate how your staff is using the EHR. You may be able to drive better patient engagement and improve medical outcomes by making a few tweaks here and there to your EHR strategy, or you may want to consider getting a new EHR that has a better feature set for you and your staff.
Better patient care is always the end goal, and using the EHR in a flexible, cost-effective way is the most practical means to that end for now.