Checklist: 10 steps for future-proofing ambulatory EHRs

Action items to help make the most of whichever electronic health record platform you’ve chosen.
By Bill Siwicki
08:08 AM
Checklist: 10 steps for future-proofing ambulatory EHRs

Following are insightful tips from ambulatory EHR experts on how best to prepare today for the ambulatory EHR technology of tomorrow.

1. Healthcare organizations need to mitigate physician frustration and simplify the EHR. “For many years, the focus in EHR development was on meeting regulatory requirements, which meant users had to adapt to less-than-optimal solutions,” said Allscripts CEO Paul Black. “That comes at a cost: When provider wellness suffers, it can negatively affect decision making and patient safety.” User-centered design principles must be employed to create more intuitive systems, overcome workflow challenges and make EHRs smarter to give users the right information at the right time, he said.

2. Providers must prepare for the growth in Millennials. That’s because they’re digital natives willing to harness tech tools to play a greater role in their health and bringing new expectations to the system. “Consumers are viewing health solutions in terms of overall wellness, patient experience and outcomes, an indication that patient-centric solutions will become the norm for all aspects of healthcare,” Black said. Many pediatric practices are discovering that Millennials have different expectations for their children’s healthcare than previous generations, so services such as online scheduling and e-mail appointment reminders have become an expectation for the generation that grew up with the internet, he added.

3. Start leveraging mobile to boost physician productivity. “While most EHR vendors offer mobile versions of their applications, many practices aren’t utilizing mobile in the right way,” said Richard Atkin, CEO of Greenway Health. “When utilizing mobile applications, make sure the offerings create a seamless user experience and are implemented appropriately into your workflow to maximize results.”

[Also: What to know before purchasing a next-gen ambulatory EHR and here's a case study about how one medical group uses its EHR to tackle three big goals]

4. Rethink the physician/patient encounter. It will only continue to change in the years to come. “What does your organization provide that others do not?” Atkin pointed out. “Today, patients want actions, not just conversations. Ensure your organization is truly committed to patient care by providing patients with specific, alternate health regimes and walking them through the costs of visits, medications, etc., so they have a better understanding of their overall care plan and how much each plan may cost.”

5. Evaluate or migrate to cloud-based applications and platforms. “They offer scalability, AI and security investments beyond the reach of most organizations,” said Robert Van Tuyl, CIO of Easter Seals of the Bay Area, which uses athenahealth’s ambulatory EHR.

"Cloud applications offer scalability, AI and security investments beyond the reach of most organizations."

Robert Van Tuyl, Easter Seals of the Bay Area

6. Apply design thinking concepts. This goes to both EHR makers and customers because to product development can help solve problems that address end-to-end use-cases, improve ease-of-use for clinicians and improve adoption rates, Van Tuyl said.

7. Integrate population health system tools to leverage evidence-based care. These enable clinicians to collaborate with care teams and patients, said Girish Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. By investing in the system, providers will have a more comprehensive approach to healthcare by further understanding their patient populations, he added.

8. Embrace machine learning and artificial intelligence. “AI and machine learning are going to play an important role in the future of healthcare by establishing intelligences that create inferences to improve care outcomes,” Navani said. “Quantitative data will be profound with direct integration into the EHR to help doctors at the point of care.”

9. Yes, the same goes for genetics and genomics. By many accounts genetic screening will become cost-effective and, in turn, commonplace in short order. “Genetic screening will be monumental to help practices understand disease patterns, better assess risk, and promote better medical outcomes,” Navani said. “Integrated directly into an EHR, any order, such as a medication written by a physician, will be validated against a patient’s genetic profile.”

10. Craft a living care plan. Betty Evans, CEO of group practice Oak Street Medical, which uses the EHR from Greenway Health, recommends that practices and medical groups build a “living care plan” into their EHRs that is both user-friendly and integrated into a patient’s record. Include “the ability to create flags and generate reports for tracking as needed,” she said.



Focus on The Business of Healthcare

In December, we take a deep dive into what top business decision makers need to know about digital transformation.


Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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