November 2, 2015

As patients increasingly take more control over their health insurance and care, the need to provide efficient, high-quality service and care is paramount. It’s one of the reasons the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)have put meaningful use mandates in place regarding electronic health record (EHR) technology.

The goal is to engage patients in their own care, lower costs across the board, and make strides in improving both patient outcomes and population health.

However, transitioning to EHR use hasn’t been without its challenges. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) says that integrating EHRs into clinical workflow, adopting implementation strategies, keeping pace with technology upgrades and constant quality improvement are all issues to effectively managing the transition.

Recent commentary published in the New England Journal of Medicine investigated whether the pain points around electronic health record (EHR) implementation can be chalked up to “transitional chaos” as providers get used to working with digital system, or if they are producing enduring harm. Ultimately, the commentary urges, providers, payers and healthcare IT companies must work closely together to ensure that everyone’s needs for the technology are adequately met so that patients benefit in the long run.

Collaborating to Improve EHR Use

The ability for providers to share information with pharmacists through Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) has the potential to streamline processes and relieve some inefficiencies and headaches along the way.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recently described such an experiment, which enabled pharmacists read/write access to certain patient EHRs so that they could go beyond dispensing one-time medications to patients and also offer continued counseling on extended use of medications. This relieves some of the strain on providers and expedites the process for pharmacies.

EHR Implementation Best Practices

HealthcareITNews outlined several best practices for implementing EHRs into your practice.

  1. Tailor the technology to your practice. What works for a hospital may not work as well in a private practice.
  2. Anticipate areas for failure. Gather stakeholder input on potential problems with how the EHR will function before implementing the technology.
  3. Don’t rush. Planning, testing, training and implementation take time. Rushing can lead to accuracy problems and inefficiency down the line.
  4. Eliminate duplication. Identify and remove redundant data throughout the system.
  5. Work with an EHR expert. A partner with experience implementing EHR systems and in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of the healthcare industry is a critical component to success.

What steps are you taking to ensure the EHR transition goes smoothly for your company?

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