Alleviate Staffing Shortages with an EHR and Patient Self Services

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Alleviate Staffing Shortages with an EHR and Patient Self Services

alleviate staffing shortages with patient self services

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, health clinics were experiencing staffing issues and healthcare workforce understaffing has only been exacerbated now due to the virus. Because of COVID-19 we have encountered loss of life, staff burnout and unprecedented turnover rates. More patients are returning in-person to clinics yet the staffing has not improved. With variants of COVID-19 still keeping clinics very busy, healthcare agencies are looking for help. It is a critical business issue to be unable to fill job openings. Thankfully, that can be aided with technology. Healthcare providers can alleviate staffing shortages, better support staff and reduce turnover rates with an Electronic Health Record (EHR) and patient self services. 

Healthcare IT has a positive impact on practice management, patient care and more efficient use of staff. A great EHR system can streamline workflow, reduce time spent on administrative tasks and give staff more time to focus on patients. This will reduce the stress of your healthcare workers and relieve them from having to work extra hours. When health clinics are already understaffed, finding ways to have limited staff work smarter and not harder is more important than ever.

Not all EHR systems are created equal, and it is important to shop for and evaluate EHRs to find one that truly does meet your needs to lighten employee workload. Prevent your staff from having to use multiple tools or from double entering data with an EHR that is interoperable with other systems you use. This is very important to combating digital burnout and can be a part of becoming a trauma informed organization. When used properly, a great EHR can automate as many tasks as possible to improve staff efficiency, information accuracy and patient care. It can also protect your healthcare workers from undue stress. 

Putting more control into patients’ hands can also reduce staff workload. Contactless Patient Experience apps, patient portals, self check-in, online forms and billing services, etc that are embedded within your EHR can remove administrative burden on healthcare staff. If there is a shortage of staff available for the check-in desk, it helps to have patients do these tasks themselves. Many patients want the convenience and shorter wait times associated with self check-in anyway. Solve two problems at once with these services. 

It is possible to alleviate staffing shortages with an EHR and Patient Self Services. Interoperable healthcare IT technologies and putting more control in the hands of patients is the solution to supporting limited staff. As we stay committed to improving patient care while working towards recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can rely on these technologies to aid us.

Building Company Culture for Positive Relationships

company culture effect on relationships

Company culture is the combination of interactions, environments, and ethics that run a corporate workplace. It contributes directly to the wellbeing of an organizations’ functionality, and research has found that the more focus managers spend supporting company culture, the more successful employees become. Company culture also ties into customer experience and vendor relationships.  Happy employees are more likely to have positive relationships with their customers. Not only is it good to build good company culture within your own organization, it is also to seek out companies with good culture when considering vendors to work with.

The ideal workplace naturally inspires creativity and collaboration among employees; however, there are continual horror stories about workplaces with faulty management and stressful corporate agendas that lead to poor customer service. Failing corporate systems are in the spotlight more than ever, and this is because more and more employees are realizing that the old ways of corporate America no longer inspire employee confidence. Re-evaluating company culture starts by prioritizing a healthy workplace instead of continuing to enforce a failing system.

So, how does an organization create a positive company culture? It is possible through dedication and the pursuit of change. Managers must prioritize the creation of a thriving work culture everyday alongside their daily work activities. There are three contributing factors that build a thriving company culture: overall environment, available resources, and corporate values. 

  1. Overall Environment: A work environment is the setting, social features and physical conditions of a workplace that impact wellbeing, workplace relationships, collaboration, efficiency and employee health. Beyond the physical environment – communication styles between employees and terms staff members are hired under such as rate of pay, contract of employment and length of workday are also a big part of the workplace environment. This can also include recreational activities and other initiatives to promote a healthy workplace. Once you have established these rubrics for your company and what you offer to employees in terms of a healthy workplace environment, it is important to hire employees that fit into the style of environment you have created so they can be supported and happy employees.

  2. Available Resources: Dependable resources are crucial to create a positive company culture. The last thing employees want to deal with is a faulty HR department, laggy technology or a broken printer. If resources are not dependable then frustration is created and it can lead to bottlenecks in the business framework. Use resources wisely and learn to reallocate funds where necessary to build a successful set of resources that will inspire quality work and efficiency. Be sure your employees have available resources in-office but also when working remotely.

  3. Corporate Values: Mission statements, morales, examples and training processes are all factors that play a major role in building company culture. These are the company’s core values, and they encompass employees’ opinion of the institution. Their job could be a regular 9 to 5, or it could be the continuing dedication to a community and the achievement of a successful career and teamwork. The everyday practice of corporate values creates inspiration and motivation for staff members. If the morals of a company are compromised, the accountability of the firm falls and so does the quality of work produced. A PR disaster waiting to happen does not  inspire workplace excellence, in fact, more likely than not, faulty values will inspire whistleblowing and an overall downfall of confidence. By teaching managers, CFOs, CEOs, financial teams, advertisement teams, etc. the principles of moral codes by the corporation, managers can instill a sense of pride in the staff and inspire the team to believe in their cause.

A thriving company culture creates room for inspiration as well as relationship building, leadership, and teamwork. It creates room for others to build one another up for career success. A fantastic company culture is one of the primary forces behind workplace excellence. By learning to adapt the company narrative to fit staff agendas, ideas, and preferences, companies will begin to see employee satisfaction on the rise. This will lead to quality work and great interactions with customers by employees that are happy to be there and represent your company well.

Because corporate culture translates itself into client experience, it is equally important that vendors and other companies your company works with have great company cultures as well. Your client experience will be a function of the culture at a corporation. When choosing an organization to service your business needs, consider the satisfaction level of employees and other customers of theirs. 

Usability versus Learnability in EHR User Interface

Usability Learnability EHR User Interface

When choosing a User Interface (UI) for your Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution, be sure to consider usability vs learnability in the system design. While there is a relationship between these terms, there is always a tension between being easy-to-use versus easy-to-learn and UI’s often sacrifice one over the other in terms of design. A great system has a bit of both, however. It is important to find the right balance between usability and learnability to make your EHR, user experience the best fit for your needs.

Usability is a term that references whether a user can accomplish their goal within a system or app. Learnability focuses on the usability aspects needed for users to more easily learn how to use a system or app. A software or application that is easy-to-use will require some training, documentation and manuals to study but the system can be learned and used for its intended purposes. A software or application that is easy-to-learn will not require outside training or reading documentation and is easy to understand and use right away. Being easy-to-learn does not imply a system or app will be easier to use later on, however. There may be menus of instructions built within the system or app to guide a user through that make a system easy-to-learn and use right away that can become tedious if your system is used over and over by users, making those prompts unnecessary. 

An easy-to-learn system or app is the best fit for novices or occasional users. When your healthcare agency is adopting a patient portal, you have to consider how infrequently patients access it. It is important that the navigation be very intuitive for patients to use right away without outside training and instruction manuals. Your daily-use EHR and billing systems can be a bit more complex, however.

Whether a system or app is designed to be easy-to-learn or easy-to-use, there are universal factors in UI design that will make it overall more successful. Being learnable still is a factor in usability and is how these terms are related. As such, make sure your EHR user interface is easy enough to learn for your staff even if you are providing training. These universal UI design factors include:

  • The intended user understands the user interface and finds it logical.
  • The system or app is consistent in the use of design patterns.
  • The users always feel in control.
  • The users always understand where they are, how they got there, and how to get back.

Having a good user experience ensures your patients and staff do not find your EHR more burdensome than helpful. Balancing usability versus learnability in EHR user interfaces and making sure your product has an overall successful user interface with good design principles is key to avoiding digital burnout.

8 Things to Find Out Before Shopping for an EHR

shopping for a new ehr

Whether your health agency currently uses paper records or an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software, prepare yourself ahead of shopping for a new EHR. By determining the following, you will have a better understanding of your needs and will be able to communicate those needs as well as evaluate vendors more effectively. Here are the things you need to know to find the solution that is right for you:

1- Current System Likes and dislikes  

Find out what is working or not working in your current system, whether it be paper or an electronic system. Interview staff members from across your organization to ensure you get a full understanding.

2- Required Functionality

Prioritize which functionality is required or would be nice to have before shopping for a new EHR system so it will meet your current and future needs and improve your workflow.

3- User Access Requirements

Find out how many and which staff members will need user access; define their specific roles including clinical, administrative, billing, scheduling, etc.

4- Required Programs and Interfaces  

Find out which forms, reports, billing requirements, etc. you need in your system. Also determine what interfaces you require to be functional with other systems you use or would like to connect such as immunization registries, HIEs, laboratory/radiology, medical devices, etc.

5- Certification Requirements

If you are expecting to qualify for grant funding, you will require an ONC Certified solution. Meeting that standard will ensure that your solution adheres to privacy and security HIPAA laws and can work with other systems to share patient information securely.

6- Complete vs. Modular Solution

Find out whether you want a complete or modular solution. A complete EHR solution supports the continuum of care from prior to the patient visit to the coordination of care in the community after the visit. A modular solution combines various vendor products working with your EHR to support that continuum of care.

7- Data Needs  

Determine what data you want to populate into your new EHR system, and if it needs discreet handling versus what can be scanned and uploaded into your new system. Knowing what format your data is in or needs to be can make the data migration into your new EHR much easier. Some vendors offer bulk uploading of data in specific formats, which would save you a lot of time. 

8- Budget 

Find out your total budget before shopping for a new EHR solution. When you consider vendor products you will want to watch out for any additional fees for training, services or vendor add-ons besides their base product price so you can find a solution that gives you the best value in your price range.

Optimizing IT Spending: How EHR Support Affects your Bottom Line

ehr support bottom line

When it comes to your EHR, how does support for your product affect your IT budget’s bottom line?  

As healthcare organizations seek to recover from the financial downturn caused by COVID-19 and improve patient outcomes, CIOs are turning to health IT and EHR optimization to lead the way. Digital tools are now a competitive differentiator for healthcare systems, yet poor support for these products can be draining on resource costs whereas good support can save you.

Help desks too overwhelmed to handle the number of inquiries coming their way can create frustration due to delays, yet frustration is only the start. Delayed responsiveness and unavailability from IT support and customer service teams can add on time to new system go-lives, lengthen training times and slow the speed of your own crisis response management. However, nimble response times and availability for implementation and training is not the only way good IT support and customer service can save your organization time and money. 

Strong IT support and customer service teams are not only versed in the EHR system they support but also in the healthcare organization’s cross-organizational workflow and communication practices. Great support teams are able to offer solutions specific to your organizations. They can also provide analysis of help desk incidents to underscore workflow or system education difficulties. In other words, great IT support teams help your EHR system work even better for you.

If you are in the process of comparing EHRs, be sure to optimize your IT spending by choosing a vendor with great IT support and customer service. This will ensure your EHR works even better for your staff and those it serves and that your EHR support positively affects your bottom line.