EHRs (electronic health records) can be used as a valuable tool to help maximize productivity, enhance patient care and safety, and remove obstacles from current workflows. Not only are EHRs valuable for building patient trust, but improving care and communication between clinicians, providers, and patients.
As value-based care models are becoming popular, more hospitals are choosing to optimize their EHR practices. A Black Book survey showed that 76% of larger healthcare practices are eager to make EHR updates to improve value-based programs. With these updates are certain steps to take before implementing a new EHR system to ensure the adoption is as smooth as possible.
Keep reading to learn the 5 EHR best practices for improving clinician workflows in 2023, and see how EHR can streamline workflows, maximize efficiencies, enhance the quality of patient care, and improve care coordination and communication.
1. Create a plan before implementing EHR programs
Before your EHR dreams become a reality, one of the best investments to make before integration is to have a clear plan.
To meet your optimal results, it’s essential to pay attention to the big picture and the fine details. Communicating with key stakeholders, identifying necessary resources, staying on track with checkpoints, and establishing a project timeline are the first steps to drafting a plan.
As you create the plan to get the EGR program up and running, it’s imperative to keep in mind the processes your team is in charge of. Taking note of current processes and workflows helps tailor the EHR program to your hospital’s workflow. The list below works as a starting point for asking the right questions for your specific hospital system.
- Message management
- Patient scheduling
- Patient check-in
- Placing patients in their rooms
- Conducting exams
- Renewing or prescribing medications
- Patient check-out
Using the above topics as a starting point, creating a plan before the new EHR system gets adopted is faster than ever, and makes the adoption process easier for staff.
2. Leverage technology to improve patient communication
Implementing the right technology, such as point-of-care carts, can eliminate patient wait times and reduce administrative tasks. They offer a way for clinicians to still communicate with their patients while inputting data.
For example, a workstation on wheels or a wall-mounted workstation can serve as an opportunity for more active patient participation. With height adjustability and a monitor that rotates, clinicians are able to quickly move the screen out of the way for an unobstructed view of the patient or use it as an aid to show their patient a piece of information.
In addition to the easy positioning of the screen, clinicians are also able to use the medical workstation to store their equipment for easy reaching. This keeps clinicians from having to leave their patients in order to grab something and offers a better flow.
Technology can further be used as an aid when combined with EHRs. Together they can be used as a teaching tool when information like laboratory results or radiographic images are shared. Patients can easily see what’s being referred to and see a reference on how it’s supposed to look.
When it comes to technology, the biggest takeaway is to make sure it is always working as an aid rather than a barrier. Some suggest that when entering the room, take the first minute to listen to the patient and avoid using or looking at technology. After the initial communication has passed, technology usage is acceptable. Once sharing or documenting EHR data, periodically make eye contact and look for non-verbal patient cues.
3. Combine Technology Workstations and Medical Devices
A recent study determined that 49% of physician working hours are spent interfacing with the EHR. For every hour of clinical work, physicians spent two hours on EHR-associated tasks, many of which must be completed on a desktop. This increases costs, workflow inefficiencies, physician burnout, delays, and inaccurate information.
The best way to offer clinicians more flexibility and keep them from sitting in an office to input data onto a desktop is by using technology workstations and mobile computer carts. This solution puts data entry at the clinician’s fingertips to seamlessly and quickly document health information on the spot.
Both non-powered carts and mobile workstation carts with batteries offer the needed flexibility for clinicians so they can help patients and not hide away to input data into the EHR.
4. Use EHRs to Improve Care Coordination
EHRs automate the communication process by allowing clinicians and providers to access online patient data.
Members of a care team in different locations are able to access data and communicate about an individual’s patient’s care. This communication can save money, and ease the burden patients and clinicians experience by avoiding duplicate tests or unnecessary treatments. Online data also reduces the risk of errors that handwritten documents could result in, especially when physicians don’t have a lot of time to spend detailing their handwritten notes.
5. Identify Inefficiencies and Improve on Them
Clinicians need the best tools and workflows to provide the best care for their patients. As professional burnout is on the rise and patient satisfaction is more essential now than ever, healthcare leaders must look for the best practices.
The last step to using electronic health records to improve your hospital’s workflow takes place after you’ve fully implemented an EHR program in your facility. After it’s been implemented, evaluate where it is on your expectations. Note whether it matched your expectations, or if there are any necessary alterations to improve the program. As you get comfortable with your EHR program, the easier it will be to pick out what can be tweaked to improve your clinician’s workflow.
This step is constantly evolving as well. As your hospital changes and workflows are improved in other areas, your EHR program will experience more changes. To keep up with these changes, establish new goals and develop new technological fixes to achieve your new workflow goals at staggered intervals.
Improving workflows for healthcare workers while they work with EHRs is a necessary process. It allows clinicians and nurses to work smoothly while they help their patients. Knowing the best practices for using EHRs to improve workflows in your hospital can make the difference between another technological headache for staff and a tool they utilize every day, especially when combined with a mobile computer workstation.
For workstation on wheels questions or information as to how our mobile computer carts can assist with EHRs, contact Altus and we can help match the right workstation to your workflow.