Usability versus Learnability in EHR User Interface

Tag Archives: EHR Solutions

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.

EHRs for E-Prescriptions and Drug Monitoring Programs

ehrs for e-prescriptions

Electronic Prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) allow prescribers to write prescriptions digitally. Digital prescriptions can save prescribers time and energy and lower the risks of prescription errors, drug reactions, and dosage miscalculations that send 1.3 million Americans to the emergency room annually. E-prescriptions are now federally mandated in most states with the last states scheduled to begin this requirement by January 2022. There are now state-regulated Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) too. If your health agency is considering adopting or switching to a new Electronic Health Record system (EHR), consider EHRs integrated for e-prescriptions and drug monitoring programs compliance.

The DEA created the Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) proposal to make a federal law regulating prescriptions and targeting opioid abuse. Their compliance requires the use of e-prescriptions. All states now have Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) for controlled substance prescriptions also. Those require monitoring of all patients in each state that is prescribed a controlled substance. In some states, it is mandated that pharmacies send that information to the PDMP within 24 hours. With the use of an Electronic Health Record solution, all data is already electronic. That can help healthcare agencies simplify and speed up the process of sending data to your state’s PDMP to stay in compliance with state regulations. If the e-prescription tool is integrated into your EHR, it saves extra steps and prevents having to use another piece of software in keeping with federal regulations as well.

EHRs can…

  • Connect to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
  • Alert limits on Controlled Substance Prescriptions
  • Offer Clinical Assessment Tools
  • Improve Patient Engagement and Education
  • Provide tools for Community Outreach

All of these features can help clinicians battle the opioid epidemic that is rampant across the United States. An integrated EHR supporting e-prescriptions and connecting to PDMPs can prevent adverse drug reactions and streamline administrative burdens while doing so, making it good for both patients and doctors. Clinicians are already time-stressed and many experience digital burnout. Having more tools adds technological burdens to their workflows. Integration-ready EHRs help eliminate one more tool your clinicians have to use. This will help them focus on the most important aspect of their jobs – their quality of care.

Contact us to schedule a demo and learn more about how Patagonia Health EHR supports EPCS and PDMP requirements.

Communication Tips to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations

talking about vaccines

How can your organization start conversations about COVID-19, address the needs of individual communities and pave a path forward to increased vaccination rates? How do you prevent misinformation from creating hesitancy? As public health agencies continue trying to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, we can use the following tips from public health experts to communicate skillfully about vaccines in order to build trust and confidence in community members. 

Make it personal.

Getting vaccinated is a personal decision. Keeping family members safe and healthy is a much more motivating factor than the community, the country, or the economy. Express your concern for the health of your patients and their loved ones, provide information and answer questions so that patients can make an informed decision that’s right for them.

Don’t be judgemental.

Avoid judgemental language when speaking to people who are concerned about taking the vaccine. Being concerned about taking a new vaccine for a new virus is normal. Address reservations by encouraging patients to ask questions and provide answers in ways they understand.

Stay positive.

Explain the benefits of getting vaccinated instead of just focusing on the consequences of not doing so. Emphasize that the benefits of getting vaccinated far exceed the risks and remind patients that getting vaccinated is the best step they can take towards returning to normal activities. 

Tailor your messages.

When speaking about the risks of declining vaccination, be sure to tailor your message to the patient you are speaking to from your perspective as their healthcare provider.

Build trust through people not organizations.

Recognize that people trust scientists, health and medical experts more so than corporations or government organizations. You can tell patients that nearly all doctors who have been offered the vaccine have taken it. You can also lead by example by encouraging your entire staff to get vaccinated.

Focus on safety.

Many people are concerned about the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines were created. De-emphasize talking about speed; share information about the safety of the vaccine and speak transparently about side effects. You can share with your patients that COVID-19 vaccines have been held to the same rigorous standards as other vaccines and that scientists and researchers have been studying, working with and creating mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and viral vectors (Johnson & Johnson) for decades.

Speak up against misinformation.

Misinformation will fill the silence if not making an effort to share facts about these vaccines with your patients. Post information in your waiting room, staff break room, common areas, your website and social media platforms. Also, consider sending a letter to your patients with an invitation for them to make an appointment with you.

Use technology to strengthen communication. 

Does your health agency have the ability to send automated messages to your patients and community members through your EHR? Reach out to your patients the way they like to receive communications whether via email, phone or text and welcome them in for appointments to discuss their concerns about vaccines with your providers. If you have a patient portal available, be sure to encourage community members to easily schedule their vaccination appointment though the app and to sign up for automated appointment reminders.

The way to move forward with getting your communities fully vaccinated is to open lines of communication and build trust and confidence through information sharing and answering questions. Help your community members make informed decisions to protect themselves and their family members. Increase communication with technology built to help you more easily reach your patients. If your current EHR software does not provide these tools, consider comparing other vendors and whether or not it is time to make a switch.

6 Ways to Optimize Your EHR

optimize for EHR success with your EHR vendor

Whether you are moving from paper, a hybrid system or an existing EHR, now is the time to think about how to optimize your EHR. It’s not an easy task. It has a lot of moving parts. But, putting this effort in before you search for an EHR vendor and implement a system is key to your success.

1. Make it a Collaborative Effort

EHR optimization is a collaborative effort. All of your key stakeholders should be involved. This includes personnel from billing, program management, practice administration and clinical. However, don’t forget to include your EHR vendor in this list. They will help you work through this process and help provide insight and best practices.

2. Re-imagine your Operations

Begin by re-imagining your day-to-day operations with technology in mind. For instance, if you used to pull and file charts, how would you do that differently with electronic files? What are your patient-centric activities? Then, think about how these activities can be streamlined so you can provide more effective patient care. This is where you begin developing your workflows. Believe it or not, your EHR can be optimized to follow your organization’s processes.

3. Go beyond the Basics with Documentation

Go beyond the basics. What works and what doesn’t work for your organization? What information do you need for every client? Are there things that can be templatized to make your process more streamlined? Do you need check boxes or free text? Also, think about how your current documentation processes can be improved and work those changes into how your EHR functions.

4. Really Think about your EHR Workflow

Just because you’ve always done it a certain way doesn’t mean you should continue with it. People moving from paper often try to recreate their workflow in their EHR. But, if you are trying to leverage the value of an electronic system, you should consider how your organization can capitalize on that functionality. Think about the possibilities of how your clinic can function now that information is available for any authorized staff member.

5. Keep your Eye on the Bottomline

Cash flow and revenue cycle management can be a real business issue. Create goals or benchmarks for your key financial performance metrics, and use your integrated EHR system to monitor critical reports on a regular basis. In addition, you can share results with the entire team around daily collections, insurance claims outstanding, and your insurance Aging Report. When practice management, electronic health records and billing systems are integrated, you will see a direct impact on your revenue. You’ll begin seeing increase cash collections, a decrease in aging and better reporting for earning government funding.

6. Personalize. Configure. Customize.

Think about how your solution can be tailored for your organization. For example, how can your EHR be personalized for your users so they only see the information that’s relevant to their role? Similarly, how can it be configured with your programs, templates and forms? And, as often is necessary, how can your EHR be customized to meet your unique needs?

As you’re on your journey to implement an EHR that is optimized for your organization, ensure you select a vendor that will truly be a partner for you. One who will help you implement best practices for clinical workflows that meet the needs of your care setting. Optimizing your EHR will help you improve quality of care while also improving your team’s productivity. It’s a win-win.

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Do the MACRA – Changes are coming sooner than you think

MACRA EHR

To end the year on a high note, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Final Rule on October 14, 2016, for the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The changes provide the most complex and significant change to reimbursement in over 20 years. But how soon will these changes affect you?

 

Probably sooner than you think. The timeline is aggressive and performance measures will go into effect this year. It is already important to be tracking services and patient information in an easily reportable format. As healthcare providers, you will still be expected to provide the best care to your patients and you will be rewarded for doing so. You have choices, but ultimately the changes can help increase your payout and ability to provide care for patients, if you know the intricacies of the plan.

 

Education will be key for your team, so make sure your leaders (especially your C-suite) understand how the changes will affect your health center. Optimize what knowledge you have from Meaningful Use to help estimate your Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) score.

 

One of the easiest ways to get ready for the upcoming changes is to make sure your EHR partner is up to the task. Your EHR should be certified and capable of adapting to payment changes quickly and efficiently. An effective EHR must be able to provide important reports easily. You should also expect more service from your vendor to help explain changes and decide the best path for your clinic, community health center or local health department. A true EHR partner will provide dedicated billing experts to guide you through the new details in the Final Rule. Your billing team is sure to have questions, as with any major change to reimbursements, and they should know where to go to get help.

 

Don’t lose out on reimbursements with an old system or a system that expects you to figure out complicated government changes by yourself.

 

For more details on billing to Medicaid and Medicare, visit the CMS website.

 

For more information about the new payment models, check out the new Quality Payment Program Website.