Electronic medical records (EMRs) have revolutionized many healthcare practices around the world. They’ve simplified and automated the tedious functions of processing claims and entering thousands of patient data into a unified medical system. Utilizing EMRs has also reduced clinical errors and helped clinicians avoid missing deadlines.
When used and calibrated right, they can be beneficial to healthcare organizations. According to a study, EMRs “enhance productivity/efficiency in primary care physician workloads.” However, some clinicians still see EMRs as a boon rather than a bane.
Ultimately, success depends on how efficient your practice’s EMR implementation is.
With EMR automation, you can streamline clinical workflows, improve clinical productivity, enhance patient-provider relationships, and bring EMR costs down.
These EMR implementation tips will help you achieve that.
Establish new workflows
For many medical practices, identifying which processes should be automated can be challenging and tricky. How do you know which among the many processes in your organization should be automated and which ones should be prioritized?
A good rule of thumb is to automate processes that you do frequently. These tasks are excellent candidates for automation because you immediately reap the benefits. These include processes involving appointment scheduling, walk-in patient documentation, organizing files for scheduled visits, compliance reporting, routine physical exams, prescription refills, and other back-office tasks.
You should also automate tasks that don’t greatly require creative thinking, such as scheduling follow-up appointments and other essential yet repetitive tasks that need to be done manually several times a day. Lastly, automate tasks that take your time away from doing your primary tasks.
Improve care coordination with EMR
Care coordination involves organizing all the activities concerning an individual’s patient care. Its main goal is to ensure that the patient’s needs are communicated to the right person within a reasonable time.
Some healthcare practices, however, face challenges in providing coordinating care efforts because most healthcare systems are disjointed. That’s primarily because procedures often vary among different care providers, such as between primary care providers and specialists.
When executed properly, care coordination prevents unnecessary treatments and avoids medical test duplicates.
EMR fixes care coordination issues by automating the communication process through health information exchange and care coordination technologies. These allow healthcare providers to collaborate on a patient’s file even when they’re working from different locations.
Care coordination in a tool like Cloverleaf FHIR Bridge and Microsoft Teams by Infor (US), Inc., for instance, enables real-time communication of patient updates and provides a single hub for chat, voice, and video communications.
On the other hand, physicians who utilize computerized physician order entry (CPOE), one of the main functions of EMRs, benefit from the efficient ordering of tests and the sharing of patient data. Based on a study, CPOE particularly improves the processes for treating certain types of stroke.
Clinical documentation is a system that entails closely tracking and communicating medical diagnoses, treatment plans, and other information pertinent to a patient’s condition.
Some of the challenges in clinical documentation are the lack of sufficient documentation, an inability to adapt to digitized processes, and a tedious system. These result in lots of paperwork, numerous errors, and security risks.
EMR substantially improves clinical documentation processes by improving recordkeeping of medical information — from diagnoses to treatments to outcomes — aimed at serving the needs of both patient and healthcare teams utilizing patient data. One major advantage of standardized terminology is that it facilitates shared understanding of medical information among clinicians who use disparate systems.
An EMR system can be programmed to request specific information from patients who may not be able to accurately describe their condition. This, in turn, helps carers provide the right treatments. It also smoothens billing and other relevant administrative processes.
Adopt security best practices
The healthcare industry is a highly regulated one, and healthcare providers are compelled to follow data security protocols mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Follow these security best practices to ensure compliance:
- Regularly run antivirus and anti-malware programs and install intrusion prevention systems on computers and devices. Multiple endpoint protection detects and blocks suspicious activities on devices, including physicians’ workstations, mobile devices, and servers.
- Encrypt EMRs to protect the integrity and confidentiality of patient health information (PHI). Your team should ensure that encryption and other security measures do not make EMR systems difficult to use.
- Keep computers, laptops, and other mobile devices safe from unauthorized access. Implement strong passwords and activate self-locking mechanisms after a short period of inactivity. Doctors or any healthcare staff members should never leave devices unattended to prevent thieves from getting their hands on PHI.
- Perform data backups at least once every day. Make sure staff members understand the difference between incremental (backup of files since the last backup) and full backups (backups of your entire data). Your organization’s IT staff is supposed to handle backup duties, but if they don’t have the capacity to ensure regular backups, consider partnering with IT experts who can address your systems’ data backup and storage issues immediately.
Solution Partner’s cybersecurity solutions cover HIPAA and PCI Privacy Compliance matters and have helped many healthcare organizations in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe areas avoid violating HIPAA regulations and paying hefty fines. Consult our cybersecurity experts to learn about your options on data backups and storing information off-site.
Review and optimize EMR automation
Your automated EMR workflows likely won’t work seamlessly upon initial setup. You might have to adjust it based on your workflows in order to fully optimize EMR automation.
Improving EMR workflows will be a continuous process for any healthcare organization. Clinicians and IT departments must undertake an EMR optimization project to enhance usability. For instance, your health IT tools can be tweaked to ensure minimal logins for clinicians and authorized staff members so the tools can easily be accessed.
Moreover, see to it that nurses and other relevant staff are involved during EMR optimization projects, particularly when making system adjustments. This is to ensure that workflow improvements are made for the benefit of clinical staff. Identify opportunities for clinical staff training to make sure everyone is familiar with the new systems.
With well-adjusted EMR systems, your healthcare practice will benefit from greater efficiency and drive medical office operating expenses down.
Ultimately, EMR optimization projects must be undertaken to ease administrative tasks, reduce paperwork, minimize time spent using EMR systems, and empower clinicians to deliver high-quality care efficiently.
These EMR implementation tips can boost your healthcare practice’s efficiency. And with a trustworthy managed IT services provider that specializes in healthcare technology working on your systems, you’ll have even less to worry about.
Solution Partner experts can help plan, design, or even fix existing EMR systems to optimize your workflows. Get a free consultation today.