Top considerations for specialty-specific practices when adopting an EHR

As every physician can likely attest, providing your patients with quality care while simultaneously staying on top of the rapid pace of innovation in the healthcare space can be daunting.

Further compounding this challenge is the headache of endless paperwork, which can not only take away from time with patients, but can also lead to physician burnout. To reduce this burden, many physicians use next-generation software, such as electronic health record (EHR) systems, to decrease the time spent on reporting and paperwork. With the healthcare industry’s recent shift toward value-based care, practices are putting an emphasis on patient outcomes, resulting in new reporting requirements. Gastroenterology, for example, is adopting specific measurement parameters to demonstrate positive patient outcomes after treatment, and must provide access to clinical data registries.

With that said, quality and value can be difficult to measure if specific parameters aren’t being utilized. This is where a streamlined, sophisticated EHR system can be beneficial. Below are some of the top factors to consider when selecting an EHR system to help make the right decision for your practice.

Compare needs to resources. Changing compliance regulations and the transition to value-based care have resulted in the need for advanced technology. However, available budget and resources can make adopting a new EHR system difficult. It is important to first find out how many users you will have and whether your practice will have access to the IT and customer support needed during implementation. Second, when looking at your budget, take into consideration that this is a long-term investment that should benefit your practices’ health for years to come. Sometimes opting for the “cheapest” option may cost you more in the long run. Finally, when adopting a new EHR, it is crucial for all team members to stay informed to help ease any apprehensions. Before you begin the transition, consider providing a structured way for physicians to receive updates on progress and voice questions and concerns. This can help smooth the transition process and ensure everyone is onboard.

Customization is key. The transition to value-based care brings a unique opportunity within the specialty healthcare space. Most of the quality measures being used are evidence-based and therefore, you will want to identify a solution that makes reporting specific requirements as seamless as possible. Most legacy EHR systems aren’t built to dive into the level of specificity gastroenterology conditions, treatments and diagnoses require. A customized system will have built-in specialty knowledge and an adaptive learning engine to adjust to your specific workflow and preferences.

Automation relieves burnout. Not only should an EHR automate tedious tasks to prevent burnout, but it should also decrease the chance of mistakes. If a system can adapt to your preferred workflow and specialty, it can give you quick and easy access to what you need to complete tasks efficiently, collect balances promptly and improve patient experiences.

On the reporting front, an EHR can gather and submit your MIPS reporting data without adding additional time and clicks to your workflow. In fact, much of this data can be automatically collected behind the scenes as a physician goes through their typical workflow. Instead of physicians taking the time to learn how to stay up-to-date on benchmarks, the EHR should be intelligent and automated to complete these tasks for you in a consistent manner. By minimizing the time spent performing tedious tasks, physicians have more time for face-to-face patient interaction and the chance of physician burnout decreases.

Understand the transition process. Make sure the vendor you select offers robust training and support options – whether it’s during the transition or years down the road. For some practices, it’s worth considering temporarily decreasing the patient load. Although this can seem counterproductive to achieving your revenue goals, decreasing your patient roster during an EHR implementation can lead to a more efficient implementation process and put you in a better financial position long-term.

If your technology is hindering on your ability to provide quality care, then that may be an indicator a new EHR solution is needed. Physicians can agree that the efficiency of care delivered to a patient needs to be front and center, and that can only be achieved through a suite of health IT products and services that extend far beyond an EHR system and include all care settings. At the end of the day, practices need to select a vendor that will support your practice throughout the transition process, save the practice time and money, and ultimately create better physicians.

Author: Dr. Arnold Levy, advisor of gMed, Inc., a Modernizing Medicine company

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