Rolling out a new EHR system for a health system is a complex process and may not always go smoothly. It’s common for both provider satisfaction and clinical efficiency to suffer during and after the transition, leading to patient dissatisfaction as well.
Disruptions to the clinical workflow and difficulties with EHR usability often sours administrators and providers against the new technology, which potentially overshadows the benefits new EHR offer.
To mitigate potential problems health systems, practices need to focus on EHR optimization after implementation. This brings clinical efficiency, boost physician satisfaction and prevents physician burnout by reducing administrative burden.
EHR optimization needs to focus on offering solutions that ensure providers spend less time interacting with the new EHR system. The following tips offers to improve clinical workflows and boost EHR usability while mitigating the burden on physicians.
5 Tips for Improving Clinical Workflows to Boost EHR Usability
1 – Create Specialized Clinical Workflows as Needed
Certain specialties, hospitals, health systems, and care systems have unique needs. Many EHR vendors will create specialized clinical workflows to meet those needs. By specializing in clinical workflows, functionality and information used by providers within specific care settings or specialties, navigation of EHRs becomes easier and timesaving.
By creating specialized workflows that meet physician needs, user satisfaction improves. Accomplishing this will take going to the groups of providers, getting input and designing systems that work best for them. Those individualized and specialized workflows — when they’re representative of clinician needs — gives providers the chance to access essential information quickly.
2 – Work to Decrease Data Overload for Providers
Data and information overload drives physician burnout and overall dissatisfaction with new EHR systems. Health IT developers and healthcare stakeholders continue working to provide clinicians with access to more health data to support clinical decisions. However, too much information may overwhelm clinicians and even impact efficiency negatively, especially when providers spend too much time filtering through large amounts of clinical data to discover needed information.
Redesigning note templates within EHRs so they display fewer data often helps clinicians get through information clutter to reduce the overload. One option that’s been studied is hiding portions of physician notes temporarily to cut down on information overload, making it easier to locate essential information and reduce time spent sorting through data.
Bold text, colored text, and highlighted information also helps optimize EHR notes to boost clinical efficiency.
3 – Add PDMP Data to Your EHR System
External prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) add another log-in for providers to go through for data viewing. Giving providers easy access to PDMP data proves increasing important as more federal entities require healthcare organizations to query these systems before issuing prescriptions to help address the opioid crisis.
PDMP queries prove essential and lead to safer prescribing practices. However, if they’re not integrated into the EHR, clinicians spend more time logging in and out of various systems to find the information needed. One study shows that these extra steps add 7 minutes on average — per patient — to a provider’s workflow when prescribing opioids for elective surgeries.
By implementing PDMP access that’s EHR-integrate, providers enjoy a reduction in additional logins.
4 – Get Nurse Informaticists Involved
To address usability needs for providers, involving nurse informaticists to make system adjustments often proves useful. Nurse informaticists tend to be both experts in data analytics and technical design, as well as EHR system. They’re in a unique position to help optimize EHRs to improve clinical workflows. Invite these nurses to triage any usability problems with the new EHR, and they’ll often find ways to address issues with data displays, time inefficiencies, and workflows.
5 – Integrate Health IT Tools and Modules to Improve EHR Usability
Another method for improving clinical workflows to boost EHR usability is integrating health IT tools and modules. EHRs often require providers to get up-to-speed on processes that may divert attention from patients and augment the administrative burden.
In many cases, that includes using tools that allow providers to access information on their phones instead of just through a desktop EHR system. It helps streamline care coordination and improves provider communication. This proves especially useful for mobile care teams, allowing providers to use the tool even at a patient’s bedside.
Even providing access to a link to a PDMP in the EHR system isn’t enough. That still leads to another website and requires a separate login, and additional clicks result in prescribing delays and reduced clinical efficiency. Integration reduces the additional steps that waste a provider’s time.
When integrating health IT tools, ensure that they prove easily accessible and require minimal logins for optimal usability and care coordination opportunities.
As more healthcare organizations work to reduce physician burnout while still implementing EHRs, finding ways to improve clinical workflows proves essential. EHRs must support providers instead of increasing clinician burden.
Using these tips to improve patient workflows to boost EHR usability helps reduce time providers spend searching for specific data in EHRs, interacting with the systems, and logging in or out of various systems. Accomplishing this helps boost clinical efficiency while reducing the frustrations providers have with the new EHR technology.
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