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By: Stephen O'Connor

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October 20th, 2016

3 Steps to Master Your EHR Workflow

Electronic Health Records

What many people envisioned as simply a tool to collect and share comprehensive health records has evolved over the past couple of decades into a multi-faceted, data-driven workhorse that can improve workflow, generate new revenue streams and improve patient outcomes significantly. To get the most from your electronic health record (EHR) you need to understand the power of the software beyond surface. Let's look at how the technology empowers medical providers to take control of their workflow in the practice, clinic or hospital setting.

The following three steps provide a simple pathway to “master” workflow in the physician's office for improved efficiency and better financial management.

Step One: Define Your Existing Patterns

Before you can identify any opportunity for improvement, you must create a flowchart that accurately represents your current workflow patterns for staff and providers, and the typical patient flow. Talk to each provider, assistant, records clerk, administrative assistant and receptionist who directly affects the paper trail in your practice. Ask for input from personnel about changes that would make the processes more accurate or efficient. Examine every patient contact point and documentation activity for inefficiencies. For example, would moving your reception duties to another part of the building enhance information gathering? Could relocating share computer kiosks, save time?

 


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Step Two: Identify & Implement More Efficient Traffic Patterns

Once you have consulted all key personnel and documented the current workflow pattern, solicit input about potential changes and map out a new flow chart. Your EHR workflow charts should document every touch point along the paper trail from creating a new appointment, to check in arriving patients and providing discharge notes or prescriptions after an office visit. Some of the areas that will benefit from EHR-guided flow patterns are patient check-in (including insurance verification and eligibility), appoint scheduling, prescriptions, post-visit education, billing and account management, lab and test orders/results, and referral management.

Once you have a fully-developed, comprehensive EHR workflow map, consult with your team again to look for areas that may need to be adjusted to enhance patient services or improve internal efficiency.

Step Three: Implement Changes

If you have been diligent during steps one and two, step three should be the easiest part of the entire process. Make sure the team knows when changes will go live. Provide advance notice via email, text, or interoffice memo systems. Don't be afraid to make changes if you find something doesn't work quite as perfectly as you thought it would. Managing workflow is challenging, but you can master the workflow in the EHR if you approach the process as an ongoing journey, one which requires adjustments when new services are added, additional compliance mandates are rolled out or new providers join your team.

Key Takeaway

  • Define existing paper trail patterns – even if they are digital trails

  • Consult key personnel for solutions to streamline operations and improve throughput

  • Map a new workflow chart with suggestions

  • Solicit feedback on proposed changes

  • Implement a new EHR workflow policy

  • Modify as necessary to accommodate practice and personnel changes

Do you have additional thoughts about utilzing an EHR? Comment below to let us know what you think the pros and cons of EHR are, and be sure to watch our recorded demonstration of our EHR software to help gauge if an electronic health records system is right for your practice.

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About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.

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