The physician, the EHR and the pandemic: How providers can boost EHR adoption with a new approach

The COVID-19 pandemic has required health systems preparing for EHR conversions to delay implementations, forcing hospital project managers and consultants to quickly reconfigure EHR go-live processes.The innovations that have been fueled by the crisis point towards new value creation for health systems, and like telehealth, could provide long-term remedies to common IT pain points including high project expenditures and physician burnout.

Sonny Hyare, MD, CEO at Houston-based ReMedi Health Solutions, became involved in the world of EHRs over a decade ago. Dr. Hyare recognized the needs of physicians in the EHR space and created ReMedi Health Solutions in 2017, a national healthcare IT management and consulting firm. The firm focuses on making physicians' lives easier with innovative solutions.

Dr. Hyare recently spoke with Becker's about ReMedi Health Solutions, virtual EHR solutions, physician optimization and more. Below are key takeaways from the conversation.

ReMedi Health Solutions major EHR implementation during the pandemic

ReMedi's hospital client considered delaying its EHR transition to late 2021 as a result of the pandemic. Dr. Hyare and his team responded immediately, developing an innovative virtual command center built in Houston, and quickly produced results that marked the model as one that could be utilized post-pandemic as well. ReMedi distributed tablets for video conferencing across the various clinics and continuously monitored end-user workflows using a custom remote desktop support application. ReMedi's consultants recommended improvements to end-users based on roles, including physicians, nurses, front desk, lab and imaging. Pulling real-time data from ambulatory clinics, ReMedi embraced the new support data generated from the virtual solution, and tabulated visual models for its health system to get a true pulse of the go-live. The customizable data provides a bird's eye view of a system's processes, allowing organizations to develop a smarter learning management system based on the personalized data for each clinic and department.

Statistics from its first virtual ambulatory EHR go-live

Dr. Hyare shared statistics from a go-live report that pulled data from Oct. 19 to Nov. 13, 2020. The report provided breakdowns for 4,386 one-on-one video calls between support and clinics, including data on role, minutes per role and minutes per clinic. Of all the calls, 17 percent were about workflow, 48 percent focused on education and 35 percent were technical questions. Across the board, if end-users struggled with a particular function or process, ReMedi was able to seamlessly disseminate a resolution throughout the command center and into clinics, Dr. Hyare said.

ReMedi made several adjustments after the first day of go-live to better the process for future support projects, and developed an AI-powered tool that allows for continuously changing client specific workflows to update within the support staff.

Empathy and relationships as a consultant  

"We're face-to-face, not behind a phone," Dr. Hyare said. "We're forming real relationships with the physicians and staff." ReMedi's consultants visit clinics in-person to ensure staff understand how to use tablets for support calls, answer questions, and earn their trust. 

The firm's clinically-experienced consultants also deliver hospital leadership a 360-degree view of what the transition will be like and how to think about critical decisions for the EHR implementation from beginning to end. Having experience as the end-user of EHR systems, ReMedi consultants understand exactly what insights hospitals need to be successful. 

Getting physicians to best utilize EHR

In order to fully understand the nuances of the EHR, ReMedi emphasizes its peer-to-peer training, said Dr. Hyare. Just an hour or two of personalization sessions lead to a better understanding of functionality and specialty-specific workflows, while also improving physician buy-in and adoption. 

Dr. Hyare shared that it comes down to two best practices that have the biggest impact on reducing physician burnout over the long-term: accurate patient data on day one of go-live, and personalization. Generally, institutions decide between an "all or nothing" methodology regarding patient data as it relates to the EHR implementation. Provider satisfaction is optimized when data is accurately migrated from the legacy system, allowing physicians to learn the new system and develop better habits from the beginning.

Using its virtual support solution, Dr. Hyare stated that the model connects doctors and ReMedi physicians face-to-face and computer-to-computer, resulting in an extremely productive user experience for both parties. ReMedi's virtual solution reduces EHR support costs up to 30 percent, eliminating exhorbitant project expenses.

Hospitals and health system leaders focused on improving EHR utilization should consider partnerships with consultants with clinical backgrounds, specifically physicians. 

"The Virtual Command Center we built is the most essential support system that hospitals need for their EHR infrastructure at the moment, and it will continue to provide tremendous economic value for hospitals in the future," Dr. Hyare concluded.

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