For many health systems, implementing an EHR was a monumental task exhausting to both human and financial resources. Most facilities have now succeeded at creating a functional EHR—yet based on the effort expended to implement it and the potential of leveraging the data it contains, the value of the EHR is largely unrealized and now mature enough to be tapped.
Harvard Business Review identified the potential of the EHR in a 2017 article saying, “…just as the cell phone, originally designed as a mobile communication device, has been adapted to an unimagined array of additional functions, the EHR is serving as a platform for innovation and creativity… Providers that embrace the full functionality of the EHR will have an advantage in gaining market share and in lowering their costs.”1
Recognizing more value from the EHR is certainly key to the operational success of a care facility. But relying solely on the EHR vendor to provide that additional function and innovation might not offer the same level of result as including a “best-in-breed” engagement partner. Here’s a few of the many reasons why a health system should consider trusting patient engagement to a leader in patient-facing technology.
Boost Patient Portal Usage
While most providers offer a patient portal and adoptions rates hover around 90%, active patient usage is closer to 30%.2 Working with an engagement specialist, you can utilize solutions such as in-room interactive television or mobile solutions to remind patients to access the portal and introduce features that may be specifically meaningful such as test results or discharge instructions and checklists. Once the patients access the portal, you can engage them further by adding personalized features such as prescribed video education they can view post discharge to increase compliance with their care plans.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recommends using access to electronic health information to increase patient participation in care decisions. “EHRs, PHRs, and other health IT developments tend to make many patients more active participants in their own health care.”3 Working with a solution provider who specializes in patient-facing technology, can make electronic health data more user-friendly and less intimidating to patients.
Leverage Data with Simple Integrations
Another way to optimize value from the EHR is to leverage the data. Simple integrations to the EHR can unleash operational efficiencies and encourage more patient participation. A great example of this is the digital whiteboard. Since the board updates automatically, staff save time (9 hours per day for a 22-bed unit) and patients get accurate and complete information immediately (up to 90 minutes sooner vs. being at the end of a rounding cycle). Just as real time flight information has enhanced the traveling experience, patients expect similar communication during their hospital stay. Having a dashboard of their care team, schedule for the day, meal orders, and pain score that is updated electronically in real time improves communication and a feeling of control. Plus, prominently displaying things like wellness goals or education completion status influences participation rates. There is a wealth of data entered in the EHR that can be leveraged for patient-facing communication.
Expanding the reach of your EHR also extends its value. The American Hospital Association identified ‘Connection Beyond EHRs’ as one of its six key agenda items for interoperability.4 “To improve health and care, interoperable systems must expand the reach of information sharing to support population health, address social determinants of health and facilitate remote monitoring and patient-generated data.”4
Take patients and discharge medications as one example. Patients can review their medications on the in-room interactive television or mobile device prior to discharge and alert staff of missing or inaccurate information. Patients are also able to opt in to a “meds-to-beds” program which offers the convenience of filling their discharge prescriptions prior to going home. For patients without access to transportation, this service can improve medication adherence and can reduce avoidable readmissions.
There’s a wealth of ways that a solution provider like SONIFI Health can help a healthcare facility quickly and on a reasonable budget, obtain significantly greater value from their EHR. We work together with providers every day to enhance the benefits of the EHR, drive operational efficiency, and improve the patient experience.
1. Bender, A. J., & Mecklenburg, R. S. (2017, October 10). How the EMR is increasing innovation and creativity in health care. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2017/10/how-the-emr-is-increasing-innovation-and-creativity-in-health-car
2. Heath, S. (2018, July 31). Patient portal adoption tops 90%, but strong patient use is needed. Retrieved from Patient Engagement HIT: https://patientengagementhit.com/news/patient-portal-adoption-tops-90-but-strong-patient-use-is-needed
3. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). (2018, September 26). Increase Patient Participation in Their Care. Retrieved from HealthIT.gov: https://www.healthit.gov/topic/health-it-and-health-information-exchange-basics/increase-patient-participation-their-care
4. The American Hospital Association. (2019). Sharing data, saving lives: the hospital agenda for interoperabilty. Retrieved from https://www.aha.org/system/files/2019-01/Report01_18_19-Sharing-Data-Saving-Lives_FINAL.pdf