How EHR can improve patient retention (or make it worse)

EHR systems can have a serious impact on patient satisfaction with a healthcare practice. Depending on the system and how it is implemented, patient satisfaction with EHR can positively or negatively impact patient retention. Good user experience is essential as it allows physician attention to be given to the patient and not focused on documentation.

The good

Facilitating communication between patient and physician - Modern day patients are consumers of healthcare, actively looking to find a clinician that they trust, respect and are able to communicate with. Patients require the ability to communicate with their healthcare providers easily, efficiently and that returned communication is done in a timely manner. EHR systems allow for efficient communication between patient and provider through patient portals, messaging systems and secure email.

Facilitating ease of appointments, special tests, and communication with other specialists - A good EHR system allows for efficient interoperability between specialists, pharmacies and patients. The system should allow for smooth prescribing of medications as well as prompt lab and test reporting.

Recommended reading: EHR software selection survival guide

Allowing for an easy intake process and reducing paperwork for the patient - One area of dissatisfaction for many patients is the extensive paperwork and lengthy intake process when registering at a new healthcare practice. EHR with an open enrollment function within the patient portal will capture all necessary information without too much work, improving patient retention. In addition, a good system will automatically forward previous information to the next visit, so that the patient does not have to do the work twice.

Easy access to medical records - Patient retention will improve if they have access to their own medical records, patient visit summaries and lab/test results. This is very easy within many EHR systems due to the presence of a patient portal.

The bad

Poor access for clinician and patient - If the healthcare practice is utilizing an inadequate EHR system with difficult user access, it can negatively impact patient retention. With poor EHR systems, clinicians can become so absorbed in the inputting of data and recording of information, that they lose their rapport with the patient. Patient’s become frustrated and feel as if the clinician is treating their computer instead of the patient.

Good user experience is essential as it allows physician attention to be given to the patient and not focused on documentation.

Poor communication between patient and practitioner - A bad EHR system does not allow for ease of communication between the patient and their healthcare provider. It can be difficult for a practitioner to return all phone calls during the course of a day, while still seeing all of their patients. Therefore, messaging systems within a mobile EHR system are excellent for communicating with patients at a time that is convenient for the practitioner.

Poor reporting or poor interoperability between specialists - Poorly implemented EHR systems often prevent streamlined and efficient prescribing, communication and access between specialties, physicians, or pharmacies. This can make patients frustrated, as their results are slow and their prescriptions are not ready.

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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

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