Unlocking the Potential of Your EHR

10 Keys to Harnessing the Power of Your EHR

Certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) systems are designed to help reduce health care costs and improve care delivery over time, but simply adopting EHR is not enough to transform care. How can you ensure that you are getting the most return on your investment in health IT and using your EHR to its fullest potential? Use these 10 tips to harness the power of your EHR and start transforming patient care:

1. Capture data in structured format. This seems like a given, but it is not. In fact, some EHR systems lack the structured knowledge bases needed to capture structured data. Be sure you are consistently capturing structured data in order to produce quality data that can help you monitor patient care, enable effectiveness studies and report quality measures.

2. Implement protocol compliance tracking and proactive alerts. Once you have the foundation of CEHRT and are capturing structured data, start using that data for clinical decision support, such as protocol compliance tracking with point-of-care alerts. Point-of-care alerting helps providers bring patients into adherence with evidence-based guidelines. This small addition to the provider's clinical workflow will gain incredible returns by way of improving outcomes and shifting the focus to the patient to promote patient-centric care.

3. Implement lab interfaces. Lab interfaces streamline clinical workflows, improve patient safety and enable better management of chronic diseases. Lab interfaces also enable the exchange of detailed laboratory information, facilitating greater interoperability, allowing for triggers in population management and promoting more coordinated care.

4. Use your CEHRT to generate automatic patient reminders via text message or email, depending on patient preference. This can help your practice reduce no-shows and improve overall patient satisfaction.

5. Use a patient portal. Patient portals hold significant potential; they can help boost patient engagement, increase clinic efficiency, shorten patient wait time and increase patient satisfaction. Leverage the patient portal as a central hub to bolster communication between the patient and the care team.

6. Use extended Rx functionality to monitor prescription history. This feature takes electronic prescribing a step further and allows you to obtain all claims paid medication history to watch which prescriptions a patient has actually filled and when they were filled. With this functionality, providers can monitor and improve patient adherence to pharmacologic therapies and treatment plans and monitor patient outcomes. Extended Rx also incorporates formulary information based on the patient's insurance, so that providers can eliminate cost as a barrier to medication treatments.

7. Report clinical quality data. Clinical quality data has the power to transform health care by enabling comparative effectiveness studies and leading to greater transparency. Public reporting of comparative information about health care quality, such as that found on the CMS Physician Compare website, is believed to improve accountability and quality of care.

8. Participate in HIE. Health Information Exchange (HIE) holds the promise of improving quality and efficiency of health care delivery and lowering health care costs. Organizations participating in HIE initiatives are better positioned to offer complete, accurate and patient-centered care; they can also play a pivotal role in the significant improvement of health outcomes. If your CEHRT partner is working with an HIE in your area, consider participating.

9. Use medication management tools. Medication management tools help providers select safe, effective and appropriate medications tailored to specific patients and circumstances based on evidence-based guidelines. Medication management tools can provide patient and condition-specific dosing recommendations and check for drug and allergy information and interactions including drug-drug, drug-allergy, drug-disease and therapeutic duplication alerting. These tools can also help track adverse events like allergies, side effects or interactions.

10. Use order sets to standardize clinic processes. Order sets promote patient-centric care by reducing variability, promoting guideline adherence and improving quality of care. Using order sets can also benefit your practice through streamlining processes for point-of-care actions by facilitating multiple patient orders with a single click.

Your EHR vendor's core offering may or may not include some of these functionalities; a truly integrated CEHRT partner will offer all of them. Want to take it a step further? Learn how to optimize use of your EHR.