Why you should make your EHR part of a comprehensive patient experience strategy

As the share of medical practice revenues coming from patient obligations continues to grow, providers are increasingly looking at how to improve the patient experience. There’s a growing realization that the ways patients engage with their doctor - paper forms on clipboards, phone calls and pay by check - are out of sync with today’s world. In today’s world, those same patients can order a car, check-in to a flight, and pay their bills from their phone whenever, wherever they are.

Practices need to rethink patient experience as more than the sum of patient touch points. In the end, it’s about delivering convenience - for patients primarily, but for staff and providers, too. The use of digital technologies, of which the EHR is a critical piece, holds the potential to drive patient engagement, increase loyalty, and improve collection rates. Here are three ways you can make your EHR part of your overall patient experience strategy.

1. Look for integrated digital intake solutions that populate a patient’s chart

Patient intake technology continues to evolve, and there are now a number of solutions available that can automatically populate the EHR with patient-provided clinical intake questions filled out during check-in. A more efficient check-in process leads to happier patients and happier providers, thanks to accurate, timely information available at the beginning of the encounter.

Adoption rates for any new patient experience technology are vital - and digital check-in solutions are no exception. One of the best ways to improve patient adoption is to provide the greatest amount of convenience for the least amount of effort. That means check-in solutions that work across kiosks and tablets in your practice, on a computer while at home, or on a smartphone on the go, all with a single log-in for a patient. With mobile solutions, patients can fill out their check-in paperwork at home or work, setting up the patient encounter before ever entering the office.

Make sure you look for a solution that integrates into an EHR by using discrete data fields collected during check-in, as some of the digital check-in offerings may only update the patient demographic data and consent forms or may require office staff to transcribe data to the EHR, leading to wasted effort and inevitable mistakes.

2. Reduce clicks to increase attention

A recent survey of over 1,000 patients showed what many of us know instinctively: there is nothing more important than attention from your physician when it comes to determining satisfaction with a practice. In fact, 70% of patients named the level of attention from providers as one of the top 3 criteria for determining satisfaction, with health outcomes second at 58%.

An intuitive, well-designed EHR that automates repetitive tasks and can pre-populate common conditions is a great way to reduce the amount spent looking at the screen, and increase the level of attention to patients. This not only improves the patient experience, it will also lead to greater loyalty and referral business.

Guide: EHR implementation - six steps to success

Look for user interfaces that are modern and well-designed, and push vendors to demonstrate how many clicks it takes to carry out common procedures - this can be useful in your vendor selection process.

Many EHRs suffer from feature bloat, where the screen is full of buttons or fields that aren’t relevant to a specific physician, but need to exist because others in her practice use them. The newest EHRs can customize the layout and user interface through easy to build templates per provider The end result? A perfectly-tuned documentation machine helping providers spend less time with the computer and more time with the patient.

3. Choose an open platform EHR approach

The rate at which new patient experience solutions come to the market continues to grow, and many of the best ones are developed under an ‘open platform’ approach - meaning they are easy to connect to other systems. It makes a lot of sense to look for EHRs that are built as an open platform and therefore can be extended with additional capabilities easily and without much fuss or cost.

Take telemedicine, for example, which has seen growing usage. Telemedicine can be a great addition to many practices looking to improve the patient experience with greater convenience. An open platform EHR will be much easier to integrate with telemedicine solutions.

Wearables are another new technology that has the potential to improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care, but not every EHR is ready to easily integrate patient wearable information in a way that is both user-friendly and cost-effective. The best way to prepare for wearables is to carefully choose an flexible and open EHR, future proofing your practice to prepare for what may come. A track record of innovations from a vendor and a thriving ecosystem are good indications that an EHR is flexible and open.

The birth of a new category: PXM

Patient Experience Management (PXM) is an emerging category where the EHR plays a huge role in ensuring patients get the convenience they expect from the rest of their modern lives. By looking for ways to get patient data directly into the EHR, reducing clicks and increasing attention, and choosing an open platform, you can improve the patient experience and get a more effective EHR system in place.

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Daniel Sabido

About the author…

Daniel Sabido has over a decade of experience working with leading organizations to identify, understand, and adapt to changing market environments as a consultant and marketer. He brings a global perspective, having worked in both the U.S. and U.K. healthcare markets, and a record of driving clear, actionable recommendations for his clients.

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Daniel Sabido

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