Three ways to adapt your EHR to a modern workforce's needs

EHR’s role in clinical care is obvious, however their role in human resources represents a lesser considered area of concern. An EHR can either exacerbate existing problems in a workforce or it can act as a way to help employees be more productive, and engaged, and to enjoy greater happiness at work.

The following three tips can be used to adapt your EHR to the needs and concerns of a modern workforce.

1. Mitigate the risk of clinician burnout

Research published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows roughly one in five physicians intend to reduce clinical work hours in the next year. And about one in 50 physicians intend to leave medicine for a different career entirely in the next two years. Among these physicians, those who were burned out, dissatisfied with work-life integration, and dissatisfied with electronic health records were more likely to intend to reduce clinical work in the next 12 months.

Given the realities of physician burnout, one method to help mitigate this risk is to select and design an EHR that can offer simplified workflows, reduce complicated or time-consuming data entry, and allow clinicians to refocus on face-to-face patient interactions and reduce time on tedious administrative tasks.

2. Facilitate ease of communication and EHR use through mobile technology

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey indicates that 77% of Americans own smartphones, while roughly half now own tablet computers and around one-in-five own e-reader devices. It reasons that with the prevalence of smartphones and other mobile devices being used in the population, EHR interfaces and workflows should emulate (or come close to emulating) the interfaces found on smartphones and other mobile devices.

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Practices with EHRs that do not have interfaces that mimic mobile devices should consider these characteristics as important in boosting productivity given that a majority of their younger workforce will have spent a majority of their lives using mobile devices, and would potentially be more productive if EHR workflows match that of their mobile devices. As such, the selection process should consider interfaces that display these characteristics vital to worker productivity.

3. EHRs and employee engagement

With all the benefits inherent in an expanding market for services and a growing job market, there is one downside. Healthcare workers can move smoothly to the job market due to increased opportunities spurred on by the high demand for services. According to CompData's 2015 BenchmarkPro Survey of 28,000 organizations healthcare ranked third highest in turnover rates at 18.9%. High turnover results in a massive economic burden related to retraining costs and lost productivity.

Given the cost of employee turnover, how can an EHR help mitigate the risk of employees jumping ship? One of the main drivers of employee turnover is a lack of engagement. Engaged employees are less likely to leave, conversely, a disengaged employee may be looking for greener pastures. In turn, this begs the question, how can an EHR be used to foster employee engagement?

EHRs can foster employee engagement in a number of ways. For example, incorporating clinician and staff input in the selection process allows employees have a stake in using an EHR as a tool to better an organization. In addition to employee engagement in system selection and design employee, EHR data particularly with regard to clinical and organizational performance can be used as a way to involve employees in monitoring performance, but also a way to  enhance their productivity.

For example, an EHR can monitor wait time data, which in turn can be used to provide feedback and solicit input from employees who conduct intake on how to maintain good performance, but also improve. Using this strategy, employees have a meaningful stake in organizational performance, and presumably will be more engaged.

EHRs are not a magic bullet which can solve the numerous employee engagement problems facing healthcare organizations on their own. However when viewed as a tool used in conjunction with other management strategies, a practice can mitigate a number of workforce-related-problems they may encounter.

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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