EHR Technology – Best Practices to Enhance the Patient ExperienceSeptember 15, 2011
In recent years, much has been written about electronic health records (EHR) technology. Practically everything published about EHR centers around Meaningful Use adoption, government incentive programs, and how the technology itself is a tool for physicians to deliver more efficient and higher quality care to patients.
While all of these articles on the subject of EHR are well written and relevant, one very important aspect of the health care equation seems to be consistently overlooked.
What about the patient? How do patients feel about their physician using EHR technology to provide care and treatment? Do patients see the value and recognize the difference in their care between physicians that use EHR versus those that don’t?
The following story happened recently in North Texas and probably takes place many times everyday through the United States.
A patient relocated from one area of town to another and the time came for their annual physical examination. Given the distance between where the patient’s current physician practice is located and their new home, the patient decided to choose a new physician. The patient performed the necessary due diligence, selected a new physician, and made the appointment for their annual physical.
The patient arrived for their scheduled appointment and as expected, was handed a clip board that contained at least eight pages of documents. The patient, relying on memory alone, completed the documents knowing that some specific details and occurrences regarding their medical history are not one hundred percent accurate. Shortly after returning the completed documents to the receptionist, the patient was called to the examination area.
Once the patient was situated in the exam room, a nurse enters with the documents that were completed in the waiting room. The nurse proceeds to ask the patient specific questions around their responses and records that information on a computer. After this question and answer session is complete, the nurse hands the patient a form that contains detailed instructions on how to set up an online account with the practice. The nurse explains that this account is used by the physician to communicate directly with patients including the delivery of any lab and test results. The patient was really impressed with this capability, which provided additional assurance that they made the right decision selecting this physician.
At different times during the actual physical examination and dialogue exchanged between the patient and the physician, the same nurse was physically present in the exam room recording information on the computer. Being that this approach was a new experience for the patient, there were times where the patient felt a little bit uncomfortable with all the in-and-out of the exam room by the nurse. After the exam and all necessary tests were complete, the patient was sent on their way with the expectation that all test results, along with the physician notes, would be sent via the online account. One week following the appointment, the patient retrieved a comprehensive report on all tests performed along with specific notes from the physician. All in all, the patient viewed this new health care approach as extremely positive and the most thorough and professional they have ever experienced.
This patient experience speaks to the mutual benefit that EHR technology brings to patients and physicians. The technology allows patients to be more empowered around their health and it allows physicians to be more efficient and accurate in the care they provide.
Switching focus, here are a few best practices that could further enhance the patient experience while creating even more efficiency to the operations of the practice:
Adopt electronic patient check-in software to replace paper-based patient check-in.
There are several stand-alone applications that will integrate with existing EHR platforms that even include the capability for patients to use either computer tablets or even iPad’s to capture new patient information or for existing patients to update their information. This capability may also allow new patients to automatically enroll in the practice patient’s portal at the time of completing new patient forms. Patients love gadgets and this technology will not only enhance the patient experience, it will save medical practices time and money too.
Adopt a medical speech recognition solution or equip physicians with computer tablets.
This emerging technology is designed to help clinicians create medical notes directly into their EHR platform in real-time. This capability may dramatically improve both physician and patient workflows thus making this practice more efficient, save patients time, and save the practice money. No more unproductive time spent by nurses performing the in-and- out function between exam rooms resulting in a less confusing patient experience.
Improve patient communications about EHR adoption and utilization.
The last best practice is about educating patients about EHR. I believe that the vast majority of patients have no idea what an EHR is and the value the technology brings to their care. By educating patients around the technology the physician and their practice has invested in to deliver the highest quality care will go a long way to sustaining the confidence patients have in their physician. Effective communication will also help promote to patients to take more control of their health as many EHR platforms have the capability to transfer the patients EHR information to their own personal medical record (PMR).
By the way, the patient was me!
Frank J.Rosello is CEO & Co-Founder of Environmental Intelligence LLC.
Environmental Intelligence LLC is a Complete Outsourced Health IT Company providing End-to-End meaningful physician workflows consulting, integration, and implementation in (EHR) Electronic Health Records and Practice Management to private and public medical practices and facilities differentiated by our experienced, physician driven administrative staff and dedicated IT team.
To learn more about our Physician Focused – Patient Driven approach to EHR & Health IT Visit our website: www.goeillc.com