Electronic health records (EHRs) are an integral component in today’s healthcare industry, offering numerous benefits to practices, providers, and patients alike. Even though patients don’t directly interact with the EHR their provider uses, it can still have a profound impact on their care quality, health outcomes, and overall experience with your practice—for better or for worse.
Using an EHR that’s not effectively designed to support patient care can have several potentially negative implications. It’s up to you to ensure your EHR’s impact is positive as opposed to a deterrent to delivering top-quality care. Here’s how EHRs can negatively impact patient care and what your practice can do to take action.
Increasing Your Practice’s Administrative Burden
Despite most physicians recognizing the benefits EHRs provide, seven out of 10 agree they play a role in burnout, take valuable time away from patients, and increase the total number of hours they work on a daily basis. Nearly half even feel EHRs detract from their clinical effectiveness rather than contributing to it, largely due to the substantial administrative burden EHRs can put on clinicians, often eating up time that could be spent engaging and caring for patients.
In fact, of the 31 minutes spent on behalf of each patient, 19 minutes are dedicated to documenting care in the EHR. In other words, many providers are spending more time in their EHR than they are with patients—which is obviously less than ideal for patient engagement. Additionally, the added administrative burden can also lead to dangerous clerical errors if providers and clinical staff are experiencing burnout, ultimately posing significant safety concerns for patients under their care.
Sounding all too familiar? To decrease your administrative burden, you need to simplify your practice workflows and invest in an EHR solution that’s both user-friendly and intuitive—which brings us to our next pain point.
Offering a Less-Than-Stellar User Experience
Ninety-seven percent of physicians agree an intuitive user experience (UX) is essential for their EHR to provide value beyond data storage. The reality is, usability and functionality vary greatly from system to system. Plus, many EHRs are simply not designed to be patient-centric—and that includes the built-in patient portals and engagement functionalities that many vendors are beginning to implement to better support their customers’ patient engagement initiatives.
Even though patients are inherently disconnected from EHRs and their vendors, health IT should still be built with patient care in mind. That means considering the needs and preferences of their clients (practices and providers), in addition to the ever-evolving expectations of the modern healthcare consumer. Of course, even an EHR with a clean, user-friendly interface is only beneficial if it includes the right features and functions.
Speaking of which ...
Lacking the Right Tools for Patient Engagement
Although many of the EHRs on the market today offer a patient portal and/or basic engagement tools, many of them miss the mark in this area. The “why” is actually quite simple: EHR vendors aren’t experts in patient engagement. As we mentioned earlier, they’re typically quite disconnected from patients and are likely unaware of their preferences and expectations for a digital experience.
What happens when your EHR’s patient portal falls short of expectations? Your patients could become disengaged, which is costly in multiple ways. Disengaged patients often end up less likely to take an active role in their own care if they can’t access the features and services they’re looking for, which, in turn, can lead to poor technology adoption, lower medication adherence, and unsatisfactory health outcomes as a whole.
So, which features are must-haves? To make care experiences easier for your patients—and care delivery easier for your providers and staff—your EHR’s patient portal should include:
- Online appointment scheduling
- Automated appointment reminders
- Digital check-in and registration
- Direct messaging with providers
- Flexible financial options
- Refill requests and lab results
- Mobile application convenience
Looking Ahead: Investing in the Right Technology
So, there you have it: Your EHR needs to integrate with your practice workflows, offer an intuitive user experience, and incorporate advanced features designed to engage patients through each stage of their healthcare journey. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive patient engagement solution, a third-party vendor such as InteliChart may be the perfect fit. A single integration provides access to a wide array of premium, patient-first solutions to improve engagement and health outcomes.