What Should Clinicians Look for When Evaluating an EHR?

Selecting an electronic health technology is usually the purview of the business office, with the C-suite typically making final the decision after consulting with various facility stakeholders. The business office will prioritize the quality of the revenue cycle management tool, while clinical staff will be focused on ease of use and a short learning curve. Given the direct effects an EHR can have on patient care, the needs of clinical staff – physicians, nurses, techs, etc. – should play an important role in this decision making process.

While facility leadership may hold the purse strings, it’s the clinical staff who will be required to use the tool on a daily basis. Knowing how to evaluate the ways a tool will affect clinical workflows, and how to communicate that evaluation to leadership, can make even the most technology averse clinician an important partner in the EHR selection process.

 

An EHR Should Centralize Resources

Remember the last time you were consulting with your team on a difficult patient? You probably had a stack of paper records in one hand, a test result pulled up on your laptop while you frantically searched for an important note on your phone, only to realize moments later that a printout you needed was sitting on your desk in a different part of the hospital.

Sound familiar?

A good EHR solution should make your job easier, centralizing all of the information you and your entire team need in a simple and easy-to-use interface. No more chasing down the lead physician for a forgotten signature on a note. No more missing important messages from your pharmacologist. No more dictating into the phone while trying to absorb information from two computer screens and countless sheets of paper. Just streamlined workflows that help you and your team improve communication while reducing adverse events and improving patient care.

Make sure that any EHR solution your leadership team considers actively facilitates communication between departments and teams by centralizing all necessary communications, test results, and notes. Not only will this save time, but the reduction in printing, scanning, transcription, and storage costs alone saved one Cantata Health client $1.7 million dollars per year!

 

An EHR Should Help Improve Patient Outcomes

We’re a long way away from fully automated surgical procedures, but that doesn’t mean today’s technology can’t improve the way you care for your patients.

The best EHR solution will go further than improving compliance and communication – it will actively prevent mistakes. By centralizing and maintaining all of a patient’s records, the most advanced EHRs prevent mistakes, not only by reminding clinicians of upcoming deadlines, but can even alert you to potential medication interactions or allergies. And, with an average incidence of 2-7 per 100 adverse drug events per admission in the average hospital, even a 5% reduction could save you an average of $280,000 per year.

 

An EHR Should Be Tailored To Your Hospital’s Needs

Whether your facility is transitioning from paper records, a hybrid paper and electronic model, or from one electronic health technology solution to another, the right product should be tailored to the specific needs of your hospital.

The EHR market has matured significantly, making one-size-fits-all solutions unnecessary and impractical. Your team can and should prioritize solutions that are tailor-made for your specific hospital and industry. Many customizable, modular solutions exist, and the best companies should provide your team with a variety of implementation options while making themselves available for immediate assistance in the event of a problem.

Be sure to represent the importance of customization and customer support to your leadership team. While a cheaper solution with limited support may seem appealing in the short-term, a poorly-timed glitch can impede effective care, and could even cost your hospital millions of dollars after a months-long installation process.