HIMSS Stage 7 makes for happier physicians, says KLAS

Hospitals that reach the pinnacle of the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model have more satisfied docs, more widespread personalization of EHRs and better teamwork between clinicians, according to a new survey with HIMSS Analytics.
By Mike Miliard
12:03 AM
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Achieving Stage 7 on the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model is a tall order. It demands that hospitals have totally transcended the paper chart, are using data warehousing and advanced analytics, are able to share clinical information readily with an array of outside entities and are in strict compliance with a range of other exacting requirements for enterprise-wide IT deployment.

WHY IT MATTERS
It's worth the effort, as a new report from KLAS, done in cooperation with HIMSS Analytics, shows. Not just for the clinical and operational gains that can be accomplished with that level of technology maturity, but for generally higher levels of physician satisfaction.

At a time where EHR-exacerbated physician burnout is being discussed more than ever, those are interesting findings – suggesting that it's the way technology is deployed, rather than the mere fact of it, that might have the most beneficial impact on doctor productivity and patient care.

Physicians who have access to the full tech suite that comes with Stage 7 are generally more satisfied overall, the new report shows, "having better tools to deliver care, having better functionality, and having better integration."

Not to say that Stage 7 solves every problem, however, according to KLAS, which notes that in areas that are sticking across healthcare – EHR efficiency, usability, analytics – Stage 7 hospitals have merely similar satisfaction levels as pre–Stage 7 organizations.

Also, the report notes, "EHR training is not of noticeably higher quality at Stage 7 organizations – and in fact, training represents an area where the industry at large has room for improvement."

That said, "physicians at Stage 7 organizations do report deeper adoption of EHR personalization functionality as well as better teamwork between clinicians and IT personnel," said KLAS researchers. "Stage 7 organizations also boast slightly higher physician job fulfillment."

The report is a collaboration between HIMSS Analytics and KLAS' Arch Collaborative initiative, a provider-led effort to better use measurement, benchmarking and best practices to boost EHR usability and satisfaction.

The Arch Collaborative sees evidence that it's not just technology that's making for more successful providers with more satisfied physicians. Indeed, "EHR success is largely driven by change management (i.e., people and processes)," according to the report.

"This means that in addition to having a good system in place, organizations that are successful with their EHR nearly always provide strong training, ensure the EHR meets users’ specific needs (i.e., they encourage personalization), and develop shared ownership."

In an era where more and more physicians are finding that technology is sapping their ability to experience the "joy of medicine," the KLAS report notes that "85.9 percent of physicians at pre-Stage 7 organizations report that they find practicing medicine fulfilling, compared to 86.5 percent of Stage 7 organizations. While this difference is very small, it is important to note that organizations that pursue a more comprehensive information technology offering do not risk hurting their physicians’ job fulfillment."

THE LARGER TREND
Once a rarefied distinction, attaining Stage 7 on the EMRAM Model has started to become much more achievable as more and more hospitals and health systems make the effort and investment necessary for a robust IT infrastructure to benefit their physicians and patients. Still, fewer than 7 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have done it.

This past year, 131-bed Los Angeles-based Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital told Healthcare IT News how it earned the accomplishment.

ON THE RECORD
"To most organizations, EMRAM Stage 7 feels like an incredible mountain to climb, and it is," said KLAS researchers. "However, EMRAM Stage 7 isn’t the peak, but rather an important milestone on the journey toward revolutionizing the delivery of healthcare.

"Everyone in this field shares a common hope that the EHR and other information technology, combined with excellent people and new processes, can revolutionize healthcare," they added. "The good news is that industry pioneers are leading the revolution by achieving high levels of technology adoption and also ensuring that their users have the help they need to maximize the technology’s value. And it’s working. Their physicians report greater confidence that their technology makes a difference."

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Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com