Four EHR features your clinicians are probably underusing

When compared to some of the first EHRs which reached the market, the current crop of software offers a wealth of features that can enhance a practice’s ability to provide quality and cost-effective healthcare services. However, clinicians often underuse some valuable features on their EHR which can result in an EHR not being used to its full potential and a lower ROI. The following list details four EHR features clinicians frequently underuse and ways to engage these features better.

1. Patient portals

In light of the shift toward fee-for-service and value-based reimbursement, the use of portals for communicating with patients has become an important tool in improvement patient outcomes.  However, there is a commonly held perception that patient portals’ benefits are largely confounded by the difficulties they present to patients and clinicians surrounding use and practicality of communication.

This guide to 40 essential EHR features will help your practice select software that you clinicians will engage with

Encouraging portal use rests on a twofold strategy. First selecting the right portal that is both user-friendly and offers the correct functionality can assist clinicians in engaging with portals. Secondly, spelling out the particular value proposition patient portals offer to clinicians and making them an integral part of the workflow can also engage clinicians with this feature.   

2. Voice dictation

The time needed to input clinical notes can occupy a significant amount of time, however, there is a common perception that voice dictation is not only inaccurate but is less efficient than manual dictation.

Research suggests that medical speech recognition technology offers little time savings when compared to typed, but that clinicians experience fewer workflow interruptions with voice recognition data entry. By making the case for improvements in voice dictation technology and emphasizing how this functionality can enhance a physician’s workflow, you can encourage greater adoption and improve practice efficiency.

3. Data mining

With the growing use of value-based reimbursement, practices find themselves under increased pressure to monitor progress toward meeting quality of care objectives. As part of the emphasis on quality of care and reducing the incidence of chronic disease, overuse of healthcare and readmission, payers are emphasizing population health management as a priority.

In this vein, practices can mine data within their EHR to identify care gaps and reach out to those who need care or may benefit from interventions or preventive care. However, there may be a misplaced perception that data mining EHR data is outside the skillset of clinical staff. Quite the opposite is true - given the appropriate training is given that some of the data mining functions within an EHR are not hard to use and can be explained quite easily when coupled with vendor advice.

4. Health maintenance alerts

Health maintenance alerts are reminders about preventive or chronic care services whenever a patient’s electronic chart is opened. The value health maintenance alerts can offer a practice dovetails with the lessons provided in #3 above. However, there is a perception that health maintenance alerts can create a lot of noise for clinicians and become a nuisance when using an EHR. One way to overcome a deluge of alerts is to specify the types of alert to pop up in an EHR, suspending certain alerts and limiting overdue alerts.

The present crop of EHRs available to practices offers a wide array of functionality, but if clinicians are resistant to using this functionality an EHR’s value will be limited. As such it is important to understand which features are used to their full potential and which ones are being neglected to address any barriers to their use.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green