4 steps to building efficient and informative EHR support processes

In order to provide the clinical and operational staff with efficient and informative EHR support processes on an ongoing basis, it is first essential to identify areas of need. These areas might include topics such as usability, access, information exchange, prescription generation, insurance and billing issues, patient portals, and outcomes reporting. Once your practice has identified its particular support needs, you can better build your own internal EHR support processes. In the majority of cases, the issues will arise with EHR users and not with the technology.

Try following these 4 steps for improved staff support.

1. Assign a super-user

Dedicate one super-user (or two if you have a very large practice) who is technologically adept and has a comprehensive knowledge of the EHR system. This person should have access to and understanding of both clerical and clinical operation of the system. This person should have patience and be willing to teach and support other users. It may be beneficial for this person to be given time for “office hours,” in which they can answer system-related questions.

2. Provide ongoing education and updates

Because EHR systems evolve over time, there will be new updates to the system, new portals and applications within the system. The practice administration should keep abreast of these changes (which are typically communicated to users via email). In addition, regular (ideally quarterly) updates should be shared with the rest of the staff, by means of a scheduled meeting or through online communication. Part of your EHR support process should be ongoing education and updates for optimal usability, but they should not detract from the productivity of the staff. For this reason, keep these updates regularly scheduled but concise.

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3. Regularly update network processing and security

Although many EHR users will have little to do with changing networking specifications and are unlikely to notice most updates, they will definitely recognize when the network is not working properly. If the technology is not working properly, then users will blame the whole EHR system. Avoid the unnecessary headache of clinician and staff frustration with the EHR system: include as part of your EHR support process employing a trusted IT professional or department with ongoing monitoring and updating procedures for the network and technology-based equipment.

4. Document workflow processes

Documenting the workflow should include a comprehensive environmental outline, including the floor plan, power sources and network connections. Identify where computers and documenting stations are intended to be for greater predictability and accessibility. Creating a workflow document for best practices of commonly performed processes will provide a reliable reference for staff. For example, workflow documents for patient intake, e-prescribing, appointment scheduling, referrals and billing can reduce confusion for both clinical and non-clinical staff. A readily available workflow document will provide clinicians autonomy, giving them a tangible reference for completing these tasks.

In the end, your EHR support process needs to recognise the gripes users may have and should have procedures in place to manage these issues, should they arise. Afterall, an EHR implementation is a large undertaking and you will want users to adopt the software.

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Amy Vant

About the author…

Amy Vant is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical director for an outpatient physical therapy clinic in the United States. She has experience utilizing and implementing many forms of medical documentation through various healthcare practice venues. Amy enjoys writing about healthcare administration strategies, including electronic health record systems.

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Amy Vant