EMR optimization is the hottest thing since … EMRs

A medical professional in a white lab coat reviews images on a desktop computer.

Due in large part to the HITECH Act and the Meaningful Use incentive program, electronic medical record (EMR) initiatives have dominated the IT efforts of healthcare providers for the better part of the past decade. Most of the focus over this time has been placed on simply implementing the technology and getting clinicians to embrace it.

Now that more than 95% of hospitals in the U.S. use EMRs*, it seems the focus is beginning to shift. However, the move isn’t away from EMRs to some other groundbreaking technology. Instead, the focus is transferring from EMR implementation to EMR optimization in order to squeeze more value out of it.

You see, most healthcare providers aren’t very happy with the ROI of their multimillion-dollar EMR investments. In fact, only 10% believe they are getting a positive or superb return from their EMRs, according to a recent survey of 1,100 healthcare professionals by Health Catalyst.

The remainder describe the ROI as terrible, poor or mediocre.

EMR software and revenue cycle management systems are the primary targets of these optimization efforts.

5 tips to enhance your EMR

Improving the ROI of an EMR requires an investment in critical strategies and technologies to enhance the software’s overall capabilities and performance. The following are a few steps you can take to get more value out of this core clinical platform.

1. Standardize documentation

If your paper-based documentation processes were disorganized and based on individual clinician preferences, then simply digitizing these efforts will result in limited efficiency gains. To maximize digital workflows, you should standardize documentation processes across the enterprise. Work with your clinicians to gain consensus on how they should document patient encounters and ensure they adhere to these new processes.

An image of a child patient, with image overlays showing the different types of images associated with his care.

2. Streamline documentation

It was initially believed that EMRs would reduce the documentation requirements on physicians. Unfortunately, largely because of industry regulations, the technology has actually increased this burden. Where possible, healthcare providers should aim to reduce the data entry requirements EMRs place on their physicians and allow them to focus on care.

3. Address usability and access

Optimizing your EMR means making it a true single source for all patient data. That means ensuring all patient information — not just discrete health data, but unstructured documents and DICOM and non-DICOM medical images — are accessible from the EMR platform. Focus on making patient data easy to find and use from within the EMR, and reduce instances where physicians need to search for the data they need to make the most informed clinical decisions possible.  

4. Address interoperability

Your EMR shouldn’t just be another silo within your enterprise. It should be as open as possible to ensure interoperability with other systems and healthcare stakeholders. Work with your EMR vendor and invest in complementary technologies that make it easier to exchange and share patient information with partners to facilitate collaboration and ensure continuity of care.

This can have a dramatic impact on healthcare outcomes and the overall patient experience. Also, making patient data “liquid” is a key step to reducing duplicate testing and providing safe, effective care.

5. Add decision support and data analytics

Coupling decision support tools with your EMR can ensure your clinicians have the right information at the right time to make appropriate medical decisions, ideally when they’re still in front of the patient. Data analytics can help you use the data stored in your EMR to identify patterns and trends that you can use to make population health improvements.

Two medical professionals review images on a desktop computer while in a clinical setting.

Get started with EMR optimization

Hyland Healthcare has several solutions that can help enhance your current EMR. These solutions include making clinical documents, DICOM studies, point-of-care images, video, and more accessible to clinicians via the EMR interface — increasing adoption of this core clinical platform by making it a more valuable tool in the delivery of care.

Ready to learn more?

* Data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Ken Congdon has expertise in the healthcare technology industry and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.
Ken Congdon

Ken Congdon

Ken Congdon has expertise in the healthcare technology industry and has been a contributor to the Hyland blog.

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