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The promise of next generation EHRs

Medical Economics JournalJanuary 25, 2020 edition
Volume 97
Issue 2

How a more thoughtful EHR can deliver a better experience for both sides.


All across the United States, the delivery of care is stressful for both patients and doctors. Patients want better access to their information and to be actively engaged in their own care. Doctors want to spend more time with patients but face intense time pressures.

According to a 2018 survey, 60 percent of doctors report they spend between 13 to 24 minutes on average with each patient. During some of these precious minutes, they are struggling to follow electronic health record (EHR) requirements and processes. Current EHRs are not work-flow confluent as the patient is asked the same questions multiple times. Providers struggle with fragmented systems that require separate log-ins, and many of the processes are simply not clinically useful.

Click fatigue and multitasking can lead to mistakes. It’s estimated that multitasking immediately decreases productivity and accuracy by 40 percent. Additionally:

  • 70 percent of doctors using EHRs attribute the bulk of their administrative burden to the software, according to a 2017 study. However, doctors’ opinion of EHRs improved when their medical institutions made efforts to optimize how the software is used.

  • 92 percent of clinicians say lengthy prior authorization protocols have impeded timely patient access to care and harmed patient clinical outcomes, according to an American Medical Association survey.

  • 89 percent of senior patients (age 55 and older) surveyed said they want to manage their own healthcare-and will require better health technology access to do so.

A more thoughtful EHR can deliver a better experience for both sides. What’s needed is a tool that leverages cutting edge technology to deliver better usability, flexibility, and value, designed by clinicians who truly understand the healthcare workflow. For patients, an EHR should provide a patient portal that integrates data into a clinical registry, allowing access to all of their data in a single location.

Electronic enterprise-wide data is essential to manage the patients doctors care for every day. Unfortunately, current EHRs typically do not deliver the insights or tools providers need to manage their high-risk patients when they are not in the hospital. Even if the specific EHR does offer such population health management capabilities, it again requires excessive amounts of manual data access and manipulation, leading to time wasted and higher costs.

With the introduction of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and the 2015 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), along with APMs, providers are being reimbursed by performance versus fee-for-service. One of the performance measurements is Promoting Interoperability (formerly Advancing Care Information), and new CEHRT qualified EHR systems are ready to meet this new requirement.

To improve outcomes via improved data sharing and automation, the next generation of EHRs offer these four improvements:

Usability: Make key clinical data easily available by streamlining workflows and navigation with fewer clicks and a common patient banner, which puts certain patient information in the same location regardless of application. This empowers providers to focus on the work that matters most. The EHR should integrate and aggregate data into a clinical registry, allowing patients to access all of their data from a single portal.

Flexibility: Care organizations have numerous regulatory requirements and certification standards. A better EHR allows organizations to create additional fields to meet the unique needs of their workflow. Organizations can define and link fields to medical code sets to stay current with ever-changing regulatory requirements and advancements in healthcare information technology.

Technology: Leverage the latest technology for a scalable and portable solution that meets doctor and patient needs today, while avoiding vendor lock and enabling constant improvements.  Solutions that use cloud-based infrastructure can do this while keeping patient data secure and up- to-date.

Value: Next generation  EHR solutions do not need to be costly. They can provide greater value-including all implementation and support costs-without sacrificing functionality. Cloud-based infrastructure eliminates the demand for large in-house IT staffs and data storage, allowing outsourced IT to handle the heavy lifting.

Both sides of the healthcare equation are under strain, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Technology has created the challenge, and better technology can provide the solution. It’s past time to fulfill the original promise of EHRs-reducing risk, improving efficiencies, and supporting high quality patient outcomes.

Jay Haughton, RN, BBA, is a Clinical Solutions Consultant for DSS Inc.

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