The hidden secret to a seamless patient experience: a consolidated EHR

Providing a superb patient experience requires skillfully integrating many technological and clinical elements of healthcare, such that they create a seamless journey. Organizations have at their disposal one key lever that makes this complex task considerably easier: a consolidated electronic health record (EHR).

During an August Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Cerner, two clinical information leaders from St. Joseph's Health (Paterson, N.J.) — Beth Kushner, DO, chief medical information officer, and Lisa Green, director of clinical information systems — discussed how a consolidated EHR platform can empower health systems to improve the patient experience.

Four key takeaways were:

  1. Getting the digital front door right starts with using a common platform. For healthcare organizations, having a digital front door can go a long way toward simplifying the patient-facing processes of scheduling appointments, registering, receiving reminders, checking in and communicating with providers. But operationalizing a digital front door requires having an EHR that is uniform and consolidated throughout the various parts of the health system.

    "By using the Cerner Millennium platform as our core infrastructure, we're able to layer on top all of the different aspects of what we want to bring to healthcare today," Dr. Kushner said. Those aspects include mobile interfaces, video capabilities, remote patient monitoring (RPM), geospatial knowledge, clinical decision-support systems alerts and communication apps. The result is a faster and less cumbersome provider matching based on consumers' health needs and an improved self-serve patient experience overall.

  1. A digital front door increases exposure for providers and access to care for communities. Because implementing a digital front door increases an organization's digital presence, it also broadens its geographic reach, since more consumers and would-be patients become aware of the resources available across the areas it serves. Ms. Green said one way St. Joseph's optimizes its digital front door is by tracking the zip codes from which consumers search for provider matching and making sure the providers and services available in those areas are properly set up and clearly communicated.

  1. Interoperability is a key goal for providers that a consolidated EHR platform can further. Even though thanks to a digital front door the pre-visit patient experience may appear seamless, there are multiple information and coordination systems working together in the background — and the less of a burden those systems represent for providers, the better.

    "Our goal for both our patients and our staff is that everything seems seamless and interoperable," Ms. Green noted. As an example of interoperability, she cited integrations that allow St. Joseph's providers to pull patient clinical information from other care venues and send it to the Cerner Millennium-enabled longitudinal record. "That way we can try to reduce redundant care to the patients, but also have a better understanding about their health and wellness opportunities."

  1. Remote patient monitoring bundles well with chronic care management. In its commitment to deliver superb chronic care management, St. Joseph's makes use of RPM modalities and tools that are compatible with the Cerner Millennium EHR. Common chronic conditions that lend themselves to RPM include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and even OBGYN and pregnancy-related issues.

    "There are various accoutrements and accessories that can definitely help patients live better and healthier lives at home while monitoring themselves," Dr. Kushner said, highlighting that the primary focus of adopting these technologies is to improve patient care. "We have our physicians speak to the patients about the goals for care, why they should be involved in remote patient monitoring and what the benefit is to the individual patient."

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