Ten Indicators That You Should Replace and Modernize Your EHR System

Tag Archives: Local Health Department

Ten Indicators That You Should Replace and Modernize Your EHR System

Ten indicators that you should replace and modernize your Electronic Health Record (EHR). If your agency has three of these indicators, you should search for another EHR.

 

Not all EHRs are created equally. Some are archaic and cumbersome, and require too much IT support. Some are expensive and yet still do not do everything that you need them to do. Does this sound like your current EHR System? Here are 10 indicators that are telling you it is time to look elsewhere. If you have three of these indicators, it is time to start Googling new EHR.

 

  1. Your staff is constantly complaining about your current EHR being too cumbersome to use.
  2. Your IT and clinical staff are spending months and years to build your EHR. After years, you still cannot capture charts electronically. Even borrowing templates from other clinics is not helping. Your EHR should work out of box from day 1.
  3. Billing and getting paid is an enormous challenge. Expanding to other payers is complex.
  4. Staff is tired of having to go to multiple screens to do even simple tasks requiring dual data entry.
  5. You need an IT guru to pull even simple reports – and even then, the reports are not accurate or complete.
  6. Your agency has yet to achieve meaningful use compliance. Are you shocked how much more you have to pay for upgrade to meaningful use stage 1 or stage 2? What will it cost you to upgrade to Meaningful use stage 3 coming in 2016?
  7. Connectivity to required Immunization Registry or Health Information Exchange is cumbersome or expensive.
  8. You’re tired of the never-ending purchases of this or that module – and you still do not have everything you need?
  9. Service from your current EHR vendor is non-existent – it takes months or years to get an enhancement your staff needs to do their day-to-day job. Your vendor is not focused to meet your needs.
  10. In your heart, you know that putting more effort into a 20+ year old software is not going to get you there, and yet, you continue year after year, because other agencies you know have same bad software.

If your organization has 3 or more of the above indicators, you should seriously check out other modern software. With federal meaningful use standards, switching to another EHR is not hard to do. You may also save some $s.

When battling Flu season, EHR technology can help!

vaccination

During a press conference held on February 15, 2018, both Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Acting Director, Anne Schuchat, stressed that this year’s flu season “continues to be extremely challenging and intense” and that “all indications are that flu activity remains high and is likely to continue for several more weeks.” For the past few weeks, the entire nation has been under attack.
 

Clinicians have to do a lot, so how can healthcare agencies step up their game when it comes to combating outbreaks or other emerging health concerns?  By using Electronic Health Records EHR technology that is equipped to face the challenges.  Then managing the process becomes as simple as 1 – 2 – 3!

     

  1. Easily track trends and pinpoint where the FLU is hitting your communities the hardest

A good GIS Health Mapping system, integrated with Electronic Health Record (EHR) data, allows the health department to see actionable data in real time. This can be an effective tool to plan outreach and communicate need/strategy with community stakeholders.

     

  1. Execute an outreach plan – message all community members to let them know where they can get vaccinated

Communication tools built-in to the EHR can automate mass messaging to community members.  This tool can be utilized to education members of the severity of the flu situation as well as where they can get a flu shot.

     

  1. Administer and easily document vaccines given to all patients that walk through your doors

A good EHR will have an Immunization feature that can improve the patient intake process and reduce the data entry efforts required by nurses. Inventory management and bar code scanning software can provide further automation.
 

With this technology at hand, health agencies can improve the management process of an epidemic such as this year’s flu outbreak. If you don’t have the support you need from an EHR, it’s not too late to get a plan in action.  Here’s how.
 

To keep current on the flu outbreak, check out the CDC’s Weekly reports.  And remember, to help prevent the spread of flu, avoid close contact, stay at home if you’re sick, cover your mouth and nose, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and practice general good health habits.
 

In the Aftermath of Hurricanes, Your Choice of EHR Matters

Hurricane satellite image

Names have meaning.  Names have value and communicate more than the syllables pronounced.  In the face of the weather which has pummeled the United States this past month, now these names have meaning:  Harvey.  Irma. Maria. And most recently, Nate.
 

Per the AMA “Morning Rounds” web news of October 5, 2017, “Damage from Hurricane Maria could lead to drug shortages, federal officials say.”   Having access to real-time inventory at your clinic via a strong and functioning EHR could make all the difference in the world in how your facilities and staff are able to respond in the face of an emergency.  Additionally, individuals who are displaced due to weather will have the impact of the storm on their lives greatly minimized if they have been being served by a clinic with a connected EHR system.
 

Thus:  Whether or not the disaster directly impacts your region, access to a connected and capable EHR matters.  As the article referenced above details, “there are over 80 plants on Puerto Rico that manufacture pharmaceuticals or medical devices, but . . . manufacturers are facing many problems including unreliable electricity, transportation issues, and so on.”  Your region does not have to sustain a “direct hit” for your AGENCY to sustain a direct hit from a hurricane.
 

If your local health department has wisely prepared and has already implemented a capable and progressive EHR, then riding out a storm and its after effects becomes an easier proposition for all parties involved.  One practical example: with an EHR, your staff is equipped to deliver uninterrupted services to your clients by maintaining a strong pharmacy or immunization inventory.
 

So – what’s the name of your EHR?  It matters.  Your EHR should be able to have you real-time prepared both in the face of an impending large-scale emergency, and in its aftermath.  Select an EHR that will be by your side – in preparedness and in secured strength.  Go ahead:  face and weather the storm.  A strong EHR has your back.
 

No more “Do It Yourself (DIY) Electronic Health Records (EHR)”

Electronic Health Records

Over twenty years ago, I started my career in the human services software industry, focusing on public and mental health. Back then, the software was 100% proprietary and was mainly used for billing and reporting systems. They ran software on expensive RISC based UNIX systems and the servers alone, to run the software, were well over $50,000. Old legacy software took large IT departments to run, and if your organization did not have a highly skilled IT department, you most likely struggled on a daily basis with your six figure investment.

 

The implementation model back then was also a “Do It Yourself DIY tool-kit” implementation model. The vendor would come in and train your IT department on how to setup the hundreds of maintenance tables in the software. Then your IT department would spend the next several years implementing the software for your organization. Clinicians would spend many hours with IT people in very frustrating meetings to design various clinical templates e.g. for family planning, communicable diseases, child health, etc.
Continue reading

Overcome the Unexpected Challenges of EHR Implementation

climbing graphic

When adopting a new electronic health records (EHR) or any new technology, there are always challenges.  The challenge of learning how to use it well during the EHR implementation in order to fully maximize its benefits, and the challenge of reorganizing processes and upgrading equipment to accommodate abrupt changes.  These obstacles are to be expected.  But what about those you don’t foresee?  In a previous blog we touched on some of the challenges that arise from people, processes and products.  Here are some not so obvious problems, so that you’ll be able to better deal with them should they arise at your local health department or community health center.

 

People

We all deal with situations and changes in different ways.  Some can be eager about new ventures, but many can be very resistant.  It is important to identify the reluctant people prior to adopting new technology.  It is also important to include them in the decision making process so that they feel connected as part of the reason for the change.  If they feel included, they can better prepare for the change ahead.

 

One critical “people” issue is having the necessary skills.  When adopting an EHR, one is required to know at least the basics of computer use.  Some nurses or providers may be terrified of using computers (rather than good old paper) for clinical charting.  Ahead of EHR training, provide computer skills training to individuals who may need help.  With people, it is important to get them involved in the EHR selection process (to get their buy in), provide training (to upgrade their skills), and be patient (give them time to adapt).

 

However, at the same time, leaders must make it clear the organization is moving forward with an EHR; there is no go going back.  Leaders must hold their people accountable for success.  Make sure you provide training for these people so they do not develop bad habits and workarounds rather than using the technology properly.  Sometime, this means retirement to ensure a smooth transition of your agency into the modern future.

 

Process

The learning curve of your staff should be expected and factored into the adoption process.  Any new system will initially take longer until it becomes second nature to the users.  The more they use it, the faster it will go.  In addition to the learning process, there is also the fact that initial patient visits will require more time to enter the one-time basic data.  On subsequent visits patient documentation has fewer steps to process.

 

To better take advantage of a new EHR, there are also process changes you will need to make to improve your agencies workflow.  It is better to rethink your processes.  Some processes that work well in a paper world, may not be optimal in an electronic world.  In fact, EHRs dramatically reduce duplicate data entry which in turns reduces time and effort.

 

See if your EHR vendor can help you identify these areas to help optimize your new workflow to maximize the EHR benefits.

 

Product or Technology

One obvious obstacle when adopting a new EHR would be replacing pen and paper forms for tablets or laptops.  Of course this will have an initial expense, which can be challenging when it comes to funding.

 

While selecting an EHR, make sure it is designed for your type of clinic.  Force-fitting a general purpose EHR into a local health department for example, will result in too many workarounds.   Furthermore, to make a transition to an EHR easy, clinics are opting for a web-based EHR.  This avoids the need for expensive servers on premises and the associated IT headaches.

 

The benefits of an EHR far outweigh any challenges, and keep in mind that the obstacles you face today will be lesser tomorrow and the next day and the next.  Once the implementation hurdles are over, EHRs can immensely improve your processes, clinic efficiency and increase your revenue.