EMR’s are no small investment, so it’s important to get your practice back up to speed as quickly as possible post-implementation. But that’s proving to be easier said than done. Follow these tips, How to use EMR, but remember, we’re only a phone call, text or email away!
1. Use shortcuts when appropriate
Think about some of the more repetitive tasks your physicians perform, and then consider how they might be able to complete those tasks more quickly, says Ms. Buckingham. “Most doctors have very rigid standardized treatment plans, so if they can pick their top five or 10 things that they see and treat the most, and build very efficient templates that can be consistent with what they’re going to be working on most commonly, then that will improve efficiency.”
2. Consult your vendor
If you’re not sure how to get started when it comes to templates, shortcuts, and triggers, ask your vendor to spend the day in your practice watching how physicians and staff use the system.. “Let them observe you, let them follow you around for those 20 patients and see what it is you do over and over, and then have them help you create that shortcut abbreviation,” she says. Though this in-office vendor observation might come at a cost, it is much more effective than any vendor assistance you would receive over the phone, as the vendor will better understand “the nuances” of how you are using the system. “Remember the old adage, ‘You get what you pay for,'” says Susan. “… If you want to gain efficiencies, pay for the help to do so.”
3. Pick up a portal
A portal can help your physicians satisfy the patient engagement requirements in Medicare’s EHR Incentive Program, and it can also cut down the time physicians and staff spend documenting patient information. For instance, if the portal is integrated with your EMR and your patients use it to enter information such as their health histories and current medications, that information can be seamlessly pulled into the system. Similarly, consider implementing a patient kiosk in your reception area so that patients can input health information while waiting for appointments.
4. Consider add-ons
The portal is not the only piece of technology that can streamlined. Physicians can use “smart” pens, for instance, to write text on a computer or tablet, which can then be converted to text within the EMR notes. Or, they can use speech recognition software that fills in areas of the record as they are speaking. It used to be that you would just dictate kind of a paragraph of text, now you can use your voice to put text in certain fields.”
5. Find other features
Consider additional elements of the EMR that you may not be using that could help improve efficiency. Many practices overlook tools built into their systems, such as messaging features that help physicians and staff communicate in real time, reminder or calendar options that help physicians stay on time and/or focused on high priority tasks, and referral tools that streamline the referral process. There are so many [often underused features], whether it’s action items for yourself as your personal to-do list, messaging between staff and providers, setting up your letter templates for reminders, or any other type of letters, like letters of medical necessity.
6. Get staff to step up
Physician time is precious, so consider what tasks they are completing in the EMR that could be delegated to staff. In advance of appointments and prior to physicians entering exam rooms, for instance, nurses and/or front-desk staff could capture the patient’s history of present illness, health history, and so on, says Nelson.
7. Train, train, and train again
Fully utilize all vendor training resources available to your practice, such as any webinars, whitepapers, or training modules. Otherwise, you might be overlooking key details that could help you better utilize the system. Always be thinking, How to use EMR, I think a lot of practices are under the belief that when they go through implementation they’re going to know everything they need to know about that software, which is never the case. In fact, It’s almost impossible for that practice to learn that in a week’s worth of training .
8. Stay up to date
Ensure that your practice is always aware of changes and improvements the vendor makes to the system. That way, you are always using it in the best ways. Ask a “super user” to regularly review new information and guidance released by the vendor, such as information released through the user portal to ensure you are up to date.
9. Be resourceful
Take advantage of your vendor’s user groups. “People love to help each other so they are always posting how they do things.” “Why reinvent the wheel if someone else spent a lot of time doing that? Maybe they even built a template that they’ll share with you.” Also, observe a similar medical practice using the same EMR, noting that other practices have likely faced similar challenges. “I actually think the knowledge sharing of visiting other sites that are using the same software would be more beneficial than having a vendor come in, because the vendor is going to be a little bit more protective of what they think is the best way [to use the system],” . “Another physician practice that’s similar, they will relate to each other, and they will have, I think, a better opportunity to see how the EMR is actually performing in another office versus how a vendor thinks it should be performing.”
10. Ask your team
Increase EMR-specific communication within your practice, as that might reveal areas of improvement you are missing. Ms. Buckingham recommends setting aside some time for physicians and staff to meet to discuss challenges, frustrations, and opportunities. “The one thing that the doctors don’t think about is approaching the work flow from a team perspective,” she says. “They know that their nurse is involved but they don’t consciously think about it, so I would actually encourage them to just take half an hour every week and talk to their nurse about, “How could we do this better?‘” ” Call PBA!”